Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Every day I receive and read press releases from town halls, governments and political parties. They tend to be commenting on serious matters so little to chuckle about there.

The exception was 13 years ago when I ran the English language service of a radio station broadcasting out of Benahavís. At 16.00 every afternoon the fax machine would spring in to life and pages would poor out with press releases from Marbella town hall. It was during the Jesús Gil era and more often than not the first pages would be a communication from the great man himself taking politicians, business people, the government or the media to task. Let us just say Jesús Gil had a lively, fruity way with words so whilst you could never broadcast or publish his thoughts they did make amusing reading.

So wind on to yesterday – who has made me chuckle? The answer is a press release from Gibraltar’s GSLP – Liberal Opposition which came to me from Dr Joseph Garcia – the Liberal leader.

To start at the beginning on Monday October 26 the new Governor of Gibraltar arrived on the Rock and was duly sworn in to office. Under the title – We Govern – You’re the Governor – I wrote in my Gibraltar column:

“Last Monday Gibraltar welcomed its new Governor, Sir Adrian Johns, a naval man, to the Rock. The difference between Sir Adrian and all his predecessors is that whilst he still wears the cocked hat he governs under the new Constitution which basically means he doesn’t govern at all.

"The words of greeting from the Chief Minister (who does govern) and those of the leader of the Opposition (who has governed and would have liked to do so again) were also a warning shot across his bows of how future affairs would be conducted.”

I then went on to give chunks of Chief Minister Peter Caruana’s speech which specifically related to the situation of the new governor. It was only yesterday as I read through them again that it struck me that Sir Adrian was well aware of Gibraltar’s new status without having to be nagged on the matter by Caruana. It would have been quite appropriate for the chief minister to point to the new status quo but his speech of welcome became engrossed with nitty gritty and was frankly hectoring.

Then the press release from the GSLP – Liberal Opposition plopped in to my inbox and I did chuckle when I read:

“The Opposition consider that the majority of Gibraltarians have other more important things to worry about than whether there should be someone in Gibraltar who is called the Deputy Governor or called something else. Nobody is going to lose any sleep over this.”

I agree!

The statement then continued: “However, given that Mr Caruana has become obsessed about it, it is important to remind him that his view on this aspect of the Constitution is simply that, a personal judgment or a personal interpretation.

“In the past, Mr Caruana has been very quick to point out, whenever someone has not shared the Government’s view on any particular aspect of the Constitution, that the complainant should take the matter to the Supreme Court. A legal opinion by one or more lawyers cannot be the arbiter of whether the United Kingdom Government is in breach of the Constitution, or not respecting the Constitution, simply because they have someone called Deputy Governor in a post in Gibraltar.

“It is true to say that the Constitution no longer requires the use of the words Deputy Governor, but the fact that the requirement has ceased does not convert it into a prohibition. If the UK Government considers it appropriate to describe the officials concerned as Deputy Governor and as Assistant Deputy Governor, reflecting their role in acting upwards as representative of Her Majesty when the need arises, one can only assume that Her Majesty is satisfied with these arrangements and the Opposition has no problem with them.”

Well if it’s good enough for the Queen it should be good enough for Caruana.

If Sir Adrian was in any doubt, and I doubt that he was, about the prickly customer who holds the office of chief minister of the government of Gibraltar – he certainly isn’t now. The problem for Peter Caruana is that his speech was given at a formal ceremony, indeed on an historic day for Gibraltar, but rather than setting out the bench mark for future relations with the Governor and Britain – in the cold light of day many of his words hold him open to derision.

Embarrassment for him – but a chuckle for the rest of us and perhaps the Governor too!

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