There was a major earth tremor in Gibraltar on Monday evening. No it wasn’t reported in the media but it happened – trust me, I’m a journalist.
Joe Bossano was again re-elected as leader of the GSLP – no news there then – but the fact that Fabian Picardo came forward to put his hat in the ring as a future leader without ructions could only have happened if Joe Boss had given the nod. That event alone meant the tectonic plates below the Rock’s political parties made a major shift as the big beasts Bossano and Caruana contemplate their futures.
It was back in 2001 that Daniel Feetham stomped out of the GSLP because Joe Boss would not make way for the younger generation snapping at his heals. Daniel then formed the Labour Party and after that fell flat on its face scampered off to the ruling GSD where he now keeps a low profile in a cupboard marked Minister of Justice. Rough justice or poetic justice perhaps. Compared with the ructions of the Feetham exit the stepping forward of Picardo – and I have no reason to expect that he’ll go unchallenged – was as smooth as a gentle waltz.
Before the last election Joe Boss made it known that he would not fight again as leader – and appears to intend to keep his word. So whilst he still holds on to the mantle the talented younger generation that now make up the GSLP ranks are coming to the starting line to see who takes over. The next election is due in 2011 or 2012 so we can expect Joe Boss to gently ease out and allow for an election at a future AGM.
It appears that Joe Boss will stay on as an MP after he steps down as leader. This is good news and bad news for the party. The GSLP is very much a Bossano fiefdom and many of its supporters, especially the older generation, are very loyal to him. If he is a GSLP candidate they will turn out for the party again. The bad news is that it is generally accepted that once a leader steps down, he should scoot off as soon as possible to allow the new team a clean run. José María Aznar, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher come to mind – but so too does Ted Heath who sat in the House of Commons scowling at Mrs T during her entire reign. So whoever leads the GSLP will have to make sure Joe Boss knows his place – and stays there.
The wise money is probably on Fabian Picardo to lead the GSLP – he is well known and has been Joe Boss’s side kick even making trips with him to the UN. Gilbert Lucadi is also in the frame and is not only a political colleague of Picardo’s but a legal one as well. There could be others. Far be it from me to wish to be seen pointing out the Messiah at this stage in the game. If a week is a long time in politics – then two or three years is an eternity.
Just one thing worries me on the GSLP’s part. The chief minister and GSD leader, Peter Caruana, has beaten Joe Boss four times on the trot and probably believes he can take him a fifth time too. OK that is not on the cards – but if in 2010 Joe Boss is hanging on for another year – and if the wily Caruana calls a snap general election – then either the GSLP would have to go to the polls with Bossano at the helm or be caught up in a leadership battle when they should be fighting the GSD. Hence the sooner the GSLP has its future leader in place or anointed, waiting in the wings – the better.