Tuesday, July 27, 2010


La Línea is the Spanish town that has grown up across the border from Gibraltar at the tip of southern Spain. Over the years Spaniards have flocked to the town to seek work in the dock and ship yards plus the other booming businesses of Gibraltar. This is relevant to what follows because it means the itinerant husbands and wives did not have their families to support them in the event of giving birth or a child’s death.

Last November Cristina Díaz Carrasco broke the astonishing tale of her brother’s possible disappearance from La Línea hospital in 1967 to the media. He was said to have died shortly after his birth. As her mother was from Irún in Northern Spain and had no family in the area his body was buried by the hospital. The family returned each summer and left flowers on what was presumed to be his grave. However after works at the cemetery in 1980 the grave could not be found and it was subsequently discovered that there were no records at the cemetery, the Civil Registry or the archives of his birth, death or interment. (The photograph above shows the baby's grandmother with his supposedly dead body in the hospital mortuary).

It was an interesting story but I presumed a one off. Not so because since Cristina made her suspicions public at least five other families have come forward with a similar tale in La Línea.

One of the latest involves a woman named Carmen from the Canary Islands. She came to La Línea in 1968 with her husband to work. She arrived pregnant and fearing all was not well sought medical aid. On November 14, 1968 she gave birth at the private Inmaculada Clinic to a son who she was told soon died.

Neither Carmen nor her husband had any family in La Línea and the hospital told them not to worry it would take care of everything. It was when her daughter saw Cristina Díaz Carrasco on the Antena 3 TV programme ‘Espejo Público’ and they discussed it she found their situations had been very similar and just a year apart.

She had never visited La Línea cemetery to visit the grave of her son but now she decided to make the trip. Again no grave could be found nor did the cemetery have any records of such a baby having been buried there in November of 1968. She also visited the Archivo Histórico Municipal in La Línea which holds the records from that time. There is no record of his birth, death or burial.

One might argue that this were cases of poor record keeping except that in wider Spain during the Franco era it has been established that children were indeed taken from their parents without their knowledge and passed on to an adoptive family.

It is reported Judge Baltasar Garzón has estimated that during the post war period of the Franco dictatorship a staggering 30,000 babies were re-allocated in this way. Garzón has reached that conclusion by gleaning facts and figures from various studies. It has also been reported that 200,000 pesetas was the price of acquiring such a baby in the 1960s. In his book – Mala gente que camina – Benjamín Prado says that in Spain people think “such things only happened in Argentina or Chile which had much shorter dictatorships. The courts do not want to investigate in case the same thing happened here.”

In Madrid in the 1960s one of the standard jokes amongst children was to say to their parents “did you buy me in the Rastro?” However Prado points out that many did just that – bought them at the market - and hence many Spaniards do not know their true parentage or indeed who they are.

Now there are many web pages and social networks on this theme. The problem is that the Andalucía health system that runs the present hospital La Línea didn’t exist then and the birth and death records are in archives with those involved in recording them long since retired or deceased. However the thirst for the truth amongst the 40-year-olds is strong and they will not be silenced until the truth is uncovered.

As I wrote this article the prosecutor in Algeciras – the nearest major town to La Línea - has decided to open an investigation into these local disappearances. Chief prosecutor, Juan Cisneros, has accepted the official reports by six families that involve births at the then municipal hospital in La Línea as well as two private clinics in the town. Cisneros says these cases have to be investigated to find answers for the families involved and determine just what happened in the last century.

All the affected families have now joined an association called Anadir formed by Antonio Barroso. He was adopted and suspects he was stolen from his true parents. The lawyer Enrique Vila is taking all these cases to the High Court both in Cádiz and in Spain where there are dozens more. However it has to be recognised that because of the time that has passed any investigation will be difficult to pursue a fact that was recently stressed by the head prosecutor in the Cádiz court, Ángeles Ayuso.

(A version of the above article appeared on Tuesday July 27 in the Morning Star).

Friday, July 23, 2010


I write today of the Egyptian Vulture - Neophron percnopterus (yes of course I speak Latin – Pax vobiscum – Et cum spiritu tuo) – or in Spanish the Alimoche.

On June 10 an Egyptian Vulture was born at Jerez zoo but the news was only released this week after it was determined that it was faring well in its new environment. The reason for that will become apparent in due course.

The Jerez councillor for the environment and sustainable development, África Becerra, said “this birth is a great success for the Jerez botanical zoo. I send my congratulations to all the team that has worked from day to day to obtain these positive results.”

The Egyptian is a small vulture (58-70 cm in length, weighing 1,6 -2,5 Kg), white in colour with dark under feathers and a yellow head. They breed in southern Europe and winter in Africa. The population in Spain is around 1,500 pairs - the last major grouping of these birds in Europe and they have endangered species status.

In recent years the population in Spain has dropped by 25 per cent with illegal poisoned bait being one of the main causes –much of this bait is used to control waste dumps. The loss of prey such as rabbits has also taken its toll as has collisions with electricity cables and the wind generators that may be environmentally friendly by defile the countryside.

In Andalucía, where the Egyptian Vultures were frequent in the past, there are just 34 breeding pairs the majority of these are in the Sierra de Cádiz. As they like to nest in mountains and rocks this is an obvious location. They reach a breeding age at four to five years and can live to 45.
Whilst the birds are kept in numerous zoos they reproduce in captivity rarely which makes the Jerez chick of major importance.

The first birth in Spain was in 2003 and involved the same pair of birds at Jerez zoo. Since then although the birds have hatched chicks on two occasions they have both died within days hence the decision not to announce this latest birth until some time had passed.

The new chick has now passed the critical stage, has been ringed and checked by vets. Visitors to the zoo can see the young vulture via a special camera on its ledge with its parents. Once it reaches adulthood the vulture will be sent to another European zoo to be part of their breeding programme.

When I sit on the terrace of my Jimena de la Frontera home Leonardo vultures often fly by at almost eye level. As I grew up on Westerns with vultures circling the desert I at first found this rather disconcerting. I have seen them circle over the group of old men who sit on the wall by the plaza de la Constitución and wondered if they a checking to see who is next to fall off his perch. I have also noted with alarm them giving me the beady eye. Still I live on in hope that the far rarer Egyptian Vulture will one day pass my way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Call me naive, call me a romantic, but my view of Socialist International was a brother and sisterhood of socialist parties united under the red flag. Well that has not been the experience of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party due to Spanish practices by PSOE.

I start this article in Gibraltar not with the GSLP but rather the Liberal Party that has been its junior coalition partner in opposition since 2000 and if the opinion polls are correct could join it in government in 2011. The leader of the Liberals, Dr Joseph Garcia, was telling me the major role they play in Liberal International.

“Liberal International is the global federation of Liberal and Democratic political parties. There are Liberal parties from 50 countries that are full members and from 25 countries as observer members. The Liberal Party of Gibraltar is a full member in its own right. We have our own seat on the Executive Committee and our own voting rights independently of UK parties.”

It was later when I spoke to Fabian Picardo, a British trained lawyer, a GSLP MP, a possible future leader and Chief Minister that I was stunned to learn that not only was the party not a member of Socialist International but did not even have observer status.

Now if you ask Socialist International they will tell you that the GSLP has never applied for membership and hence the issue has not been discussed by the committee. Except they are unlikely to tell you anything at all. Joe Bossano, the founder of the GSLP, a former chief minister of Gibraltar and current leader confirmed they wrote to the Secretary General, Luis Ayala, around 1984/5 just prior to Spain joining the EU in 1986 and they have never had a reply despite many reminder letters. I contacted Socialist International three times without the courtesy of an answer either.

So let’s take a look at the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party. It is the oldest surviving active political party in Gibraltar. Its grass roots are deep in the British Trade Union Movement because founder and current leader Joe Bossano had lived in London’s East End where he was active in the Labour Party and union.

Indeed when he returned to Gibraltar he became the District Officer of the TGWU which during Bossano’s tenure was instrumental in achieving parity with the UK for all workers in Gibraltar. The GSLP fought its first election in 1978 and between 1988 and 1996 was the party of government.

Labour veteran Alf Lomas told me: “I have had a long association with Joe Bossano since I first went to speak in Gibraltar in the seventies to address the AGM of the TGWU. I was Political Secretary of the London Co-operative at that time and active in the union and the Labour Party. There was no GSLP in those days and Joe and I had long discussions about forming a Labour Party. I helped to draw up the constitution and was made No 1 Honorary Member of the Party on its formation.”

So what’s the Spanish take on all this. It is the opposition of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español - PSOE, which celebrated the 100 th anniversary of winning its first parliamentary seat in May that has kept the GSLP out of Socialist International.

I spoke to PSOE’s José Carracao who sits in Spain’s Senate – its upper house of parliament. He was a mayor of Jimena de la Frontera, president of the association of municipalities in the area across the border from the Rock and today has in the Senate special responsibility for Gibraltar – Spanish relations.

He said: “Gibraltar is a dependent territory of the UK and is represented internationally by the UK. The existence of “internationals” of political parties (Socialist International, Liberal International) is the consequence of national parties of the same politics coming together. From our point of view Gibraltar does not have an international presence and it represented in its external relations by the UK. The only parties that can have representation and international presence from an ideological point of view are the parties of the UK. The consequence for us is that is that Gibraltar can only have representation and an international presence by its integration or association with other parties of the same ideological point of view, with parties in the UK. This has been the position till now of PSOE and those responsible for its external relations in its various Federal Executives.”

Here are some points on José Carracao’s remarks:

Dr Joseph García said: “Spain’s Centro Democratico y Social introduced us to Liberal International and supported our membership. We have very good links with our Catalan friends and have hosted visits to Gibraltar by Catalan MPs and by the International Relations Secretary of Covergencia Democratica in the past.”

Glyn Ford, who had been the MEP for Gibraltar and is closely associated with the GSLP questioned: “How does he explain the separate SI membership of the SDLP from Northern Ireland, a British Colony!”

Whilst Alf Lomas, who was also an MEP till 1999 added: “I often clashed with the Spanish Socialist Party about Gibraltar particularly on occasions when Joe visited the Parliament as my guest. PSOE even opposed Joe coming into the EP Socialist Group Meetings.”

Although Franco died in 1975 many consider the socialist PSOE’s general election win in October 1982 as being the defining moment in Spain’s transition to democracy. Hence in 1985 Joe Bossano travelled to PSOE’s Madrid HQ to speak with Manuel Chaves – the then Minister of Labour - and Elena Flores, the International Secretary of PSOE.

At a personal level relations between PSOE and the GSLP are very cordial. They told Bossano that if Premier Felipe González had his photo taken with him at Socialist International it would cost PSOE one million votes. As Bossano did not want to harm his fellow socialists electoral chances in the 1986 election he agreed to delay an application.

I told Joe I could understand Spain’s opposition to Gibraltarian institutions but not Spanish socialists opposing Gibraltar’s socialists joining the international umbrella organization. “But Socialist International has influence,” he countered –and there we had it. Forget the PSOE mantra mouthed by José Carracao – the party is simply scared that Socialist International might follow the lead set by Liberal International and endorse Gibraltar’s right to self determination.

Surely this is the most fundamental of socialist democratic principles yet an anathema to PSOE and Spain at least where Gibraltar is concerned.

Photo: Joe Bossano campaigning 1984

(A version of the above appears in the Morning Star on Thursday July 22)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It is said the US President Barack Obama has no love for the British. I know not whether that is true but he certainly has a command of the Queen’s English. He is a fine orator so can talk the talk and his writings would indicate he can walk the walk too.

Enter stage far right the woman who would replace him as president in 2012 – Sarah Palin. A challenger she may wish to be but she is certainly challenged. This twit, surely the name for a person who Tweets, wrote at the weekend the non-word “refudiate” when she clearly meant “repudiate”. However when her mistake was picked up by those who monitor her Twitterings rather than hold up her hand and say it was a typing error she claimed it was a new word.

She had even more scorn poured on her when she later Tweeted in her own defence: “Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” The literati presumed she was putting herself on a pedestal beside the Great Bard Will. Not so - she had merely jumped up on a bar stool alongside Chuck Shakespeare who held court in the One Eyed Moose in Beaver, Alaska and spouted nonsense in to the spittoon.

Everybody I have spoken to about Sarah Palin –men and women – insist the American people would never be so stupid as to elect her to the top office in their land. Surely they wouldn’t hand her the crown so far denied to the highly talented Hilary Clinton? Well as Obama told us “Yes we can” and if you want further proof of what damage the US voters can inflict on themselves (and us) look no further than George W Bush.

Logic says that George W Bush should never have been anything more than a middle ranking oil exec. Yet he was governor of Texas and thanks to those hanging chads went on to be a two term US President.

He and Palin would make good Twitter companions. Remember it was George who told us: “Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream” and “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family” and least we forget “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” It is obvious there is nothing he can teach Palin that she doesn’t know already.

So it would be a brave man or woman who would bet against Sarah Palin being the first woman in the White House as president. As George W Bush reminded us: “They misunderestimated me.” Let us not make the same mistake with the Number One Dude’s better half.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I have to admit that I was astonished that an octopus in a tank in a German aquarium should have captured the world’s attention by correctly predicting the result of eight matches in the World Cup.

Just on Saturday I sat gob-smacked before my TV as I watched a news item on the octopus named Paul surrounded by hi-tech film crews from the major broadcasters filming the creatures every move – which with eight legs is rather a lot.

Sadly the news presenters on Sky News got their calamares in a twist. Normally the talking heads read straight from the autocue but there are one or two who like to throw in the odd quip which are usually as hilarious as hitting your funny bone.

When the exploits of Paul the English born octopus, who predicted Germany would beat his own country and Spain would triumph over the mighty Hun, were aired we were treated to asides about plates of calamares. Oh dear, oh dear – calamares are squid not octopus and I have to say that whilst I live in Spain under the sun of the Mediterranean diet calamares, pulpo and jibia are not dishes I would seek out. Calamares I could chew on but pulpo and jibia would see me running faster than an eight-legged octopus. Certainly faster than Wayne Rooney!

Just in case you were wondering what you’d do with an octopus should one stray your way (or indeed a Sky News presenter) I bring you a recipe below from Galicia where they know all about these beasts of the deep.

I should also point you to the blog of my esteemed colleague Brian Reyes – My Mediterranean Diet – which as the label says brings you wonderful recipes from this region. He has yet to tackle the octopus – wise man, wise man!


2kg of octopus
4 potatoes
1 green pepper
1 large onion
2 or 3 peeled tomatoes
Coarse Salt
1/2 teaspoon of hot paprika
3 cloves of garlic

Put 2 litres of water into a pan and, when it begins to boil, put the octopus into it briefly three times. That way it will be more tender and the suckers on the tentacles will not be lost. Then let it cook, over a strong heat, for 40 minutes. When this time is up, put the water to one side so you can use it to make the sauce. Peel and chop the potatoes and partly cook them in the reserved water. Then add salt to them. Finely chop the onion and add it to a frying pan with oil. When it is well done, add the chopped pepper and tomato. After 15 minutes, add 2 or 3 large spoonfuls of octopus cooking water. Put the potatoes in a deep serving dish and the chopped octopus in the centre. Add salt immediately. Lightly fry the garlic and, separately, mix the sweet and hot paprika. When the garlic is browned, add a large spoonful of cooking water and then the paprika mixture. Optionally, you can use a little vinegar. Pour the sauce obtained over the octopus.

By the by I am told that octopus should be eaten very hot indeed - as to Sky News presenters the hotter the better!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I have written widely in recent weeks about the crisis that is looming across the border from Gibraltar in the town of La Línea where at least 10,000 people are jobless and many receive no benefits whatsoever.

This situation recently took a chilling turn when the social services stepped in to take into immediate care the three children of Rosana Bautista Vázquez. She is jobless and homeless so has lived with her youngsters at the home of her mother. The children’s grandmother complained to the social welfare service in La Línea that she did not have the resources to care for them all – so instead of stepping in to help – the children were taken away.

On Saturday some of the 640 people signed a petition in the family’s support that was taken round the town in the morning by friends and neighbours supported by Prodeni Campo de Gibraltar – an NGO that protects the rights of children – and “Los Parados” the local unemployed action group. The petition calls on the Andalucía Ombudsman, José Chamizo, to intervene in this family’s plight.

What has angered local residents is that no sooner did the grandmother make her situation known than the 4, 8 and 10 year olds were rushed in to care in Chiclana – around 100 kms away. There was no attempt to see what help could be given locally in terms of social worker assistance, food aid, housing or other measures. The town hall is strapped for cash so with indecent haste the three mites were bundled off to the Andalucía Government who have put them in a home far away from their family and friends. Even if Rosana could afford to travel to see them there are bureaucratic obstacles put in her way.

Rosana has documentation from the regional government after an investigation in to her case. She is said to care dearly for her children, they are in good health, there is no evidence of domestic violence, they had not been abandoned – her one crime is she is poor.

Prodeni is demanding to know why the dreadful situation Rosana finds herself in could not have been settled locally in La Línea by the town hall. More worrying still there are thousands of families in the border town in the same plight. The parents are on the dole and facing the same crisis as Rosana without money, housing, food and dependent on their children’s grandparents. So will they too have their children snatched from them? Prodeni warns that future generations will speak of “Los niños de la crisis del 2010” –another unwanted black spot in Spain’s social history.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I am grateful to Martín Moniche writing the “El Canapé” column in La Opinion de Málaga for bringing me the news that at the weekend the first sex shop in Andalucía closed.

Intim Shop had been a much visited feature on the plaza de Bailén in Málaga since 1983. It was in that year that a young Swiss blonde called Gloria came to the Costa del Sol with numerous artefacts to stock the shop plus a wide selection of pornographic films.

Gloria had no problem entering Spain or setting up business. She duly declared her wares at customs and paid the dues required. Nor was their any law in this country to prevent her from selling her intimate products or showing her blue movies in discreet booths.

She and her trade were welcomed with open arms by Malagueños who lived in one of the largest cities in Spain of then some 400,000 residents - who were and are noted for their free spirit.

Well now the business is no more –not because the economic crisis has bitten – but because after all these years Gloria feels she deserves a break and few people now want to sit in a booth when they can watch a porno film on their DVD or the internet.

However Martín closes his piece as I will mine with a story told to him by Gloria. Apparently as part of the closing down sale a Swiss couple purchased from her a wide selection of Sadomasochism gear. They were duly stopped at Málaga airport by the police, not because these items caused offence but because they broke the airport security regulations. By all accounts they had a hard job persuading the officers that their get up was for sexual enjoyment and not to threaten the aircraft crew with.

As I said – how times have changed!

Friday, July 9, 2010


Many moons ago when the world I and where young and the King’s Road had only just been invented I used to eat at Thierry’s, a French restaurant in Chelsea on a regular basis.

I happen to remember the restaurant not for the food and wine – which was excellent, not for the company – which more often than not was the Wend – but because behind the door of the gents was a poster of sexual positions for each star sign.

I only raise this now because on recently Googling for star signs the poster came up on my screen. I was delighted because it was like meeting an old friend! Yet like meeting a friend after a 40 year gap you are not too sure if you are pleased to see them or not.

Although I was a child or rather a teen come 20s of the swinging 60s what swung was largely in the media rather than my bedsit in an attic in Belsize Park. Hence the poster presented aspirations – like the picture of a gleaming red Ferrari - rather than reality. In 2010 I have moved on a fair bit and now the positions do not look like the achievable but a threat.

So I would just like to say here and now would any Taurians please keep their distance whilst I, as a 100 per cent Aquarian, lay back and think of England – or rather Spain winning the World Cup.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Spain’s new abortion law is now in operation – probably the most liberal legislation of its type in Europe - including the provision allowing 16 year olds to have a termination without reference to their parents if they believe there would be conflict.

However the problem for the socialist government in Madrid is that many of the regions of the country are ruled by the opposition centre-right Partido Popular. The PP has been closely aligned with the Catholic Church in its fierce opposition to the new legislation. Whilst it will not flout the law of the land it has made it clear that the clause allowing medical staff to refuse to carry out abortions on conscientious grounds will be backed to the hilt so in effect stopping terminations.

Nowhere is this policy being followed more strongly than in the region that governs the nation’s capital, Madrid. Its minister of health, Javier Fernández-Lasquetty, stated on Tuesday that the majority of the medical professionals would not be willing to carry out abortions except in exceptional circumstances, for example where the mother’s life was at risk.

Speaking on the region’s TV station, Telemadrid, Lasquetty assured viewers that the Comunidad de Madrid would respect the new abortion law – “the law with which we must comply” – but would preserve “at all times” the right of the professionals, particularly doctors and nurses, who refuse to carry out abortions because it goes against their conscience.

The minister stressed there was no change to the situation which had existed since 1985 when Spain had introduced its first abortion law. “The Comunidad de Madrid, in its public hospitals, will not oblige anybody to carry out an abortion and the reality is that the majority of the professionals, will not carry out these operations except in exceptional circumstances and their right to do so is absolutely guaranteed by the regional government.”

This same stance is being followed by all the regions governed by the PP which means that the majority of abortions will have to be carried out by private clinics.

Lasquetty said it was a “sad day” when the new law came in to effect. He added it had not been an electoral promise of the Zapatero PSOE government – on the contrary – the Spanish premier had undertaken during the election campaign not to reform the abortion law. “The law has no electoral support”.

The minister insisted there were no type of plot or boycott on the part of the regional governments governed by the Partido Popular. He stated: “The PP has presented an appeal on the unconstitutionality of the law to the Constitutional Court and, God willing, it will be resolved before long, but we are in a State of law, under the command of the law and the law must be obeyed.”

Now long term readers of my blog will know that as a matter of conscience I do not support abortion except in the most extreme circumstances. I do not believe abortion should be used as a belated form of contraception and I believe the unborn child has the right to be protected – by us.

But, and yes there is often a but in my columns, I do not believe that the Partido Popular should take a stance on this issue. It is ridiculous to suppose that all members of the PP are against it – many will support abortion. Equally many of us on the left deplore the PSOE legislation but certainly the PP does not speak for me.

Also, like it or not, the legislation is now law. Whilst it is right that those medical staff who do not wish to carry out abortions on ethical grounds should be protected from doing so - it is wrong that the PP should manipulate their objections to further their own political goals. The law is the law.

I would argue for abortion to be taken out of the political arena and either the members of parliament should be allowed to vote freely or it should be put to a referendum. It is too important an issue to play party politics with.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


There have only been a few occasions in my life when I have been Gobsmacked and I have just experience another rare occurrence.

The Gibraltar Government has just announced that Clive Golt is its new media director replacing the late lamented Francis Cantos.

Certainly Mr Golt, a one-time stalwart of the GBC and more latterly the editor of the GSLP-leaning New People, has all the credentials for the job and more.

He resigned from his GBC post to stand as a GSLP candidate in the 1996 elections. Sadly for him the GSLP lost power, he wasn’t elected to the then House of Assembly, and has spent the years since out in the cold.

Perhaps cold is an understatement as the relationship between Mr Golt and the Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, his new employer, was at best frigid. Numerous rows and unpleasant accusations went to and fro between the two in public. I bite my tongue!

Now Caruana says he has never doubted Golt’s “personal integrity” – whoops there goes another political pig flying overhead.

Still Mr Golt is now a civil servant and should the GSD lose power next year as the opinion polls predict, he will still be in the job serving the new GSLP government.

Which is where he wanted to be in the first place.

A smart move therefore by Mr Golt but Mr Caruana has left me Gobsmacked!

Friday, July 2, 2010


On Thursday I sat in Gibraltar’s parliament as the chief minister, Peter Caruana, delivered his budget speech.

Later that afternoon I spoke on Talk Radio Europe with Peter Cochrane and said it was like sitting through a speech from another era.

Gibraltar has around five per cent growth (what’s growth Obama, Brown, Cameron and Zapatero cry?). There is a surplus. Low national debt and unemployment. Taxes for Gibraltarians and businesses are coming down.

It would be wrong to say that Gibraltar has escaped the effects of the world economic crisis but it has had nowhere near the chaotic impact as in the EU or USA.

Across the border from Gibraltar sits the Spanish town of La Línea. As a cruel reminder of what the crisis means for ordinary people I also wrote yesterday about the 10,000 signed on at the local unemployment office and the thousands of others, who are not registered, receive no hand outs and rely on the Red Cross (Cruz Roja) and the Catholic charity Carítas for the food on their tables.

Of course there are very many Gibraltarians who are not happy with the chief minister’s speech or his performance in government. If you go to Facebook, key in Fabian Picardo, you can read his comments from parliament as he and the GSLP – Liberal opposition - of which he a member - peppered the GSD government ministers with difficult questions and came up with some unhappy answers.

That is why I say this is a tale of two budgets – the same document that wows the outside world appals many Llanitos. So much so that the GSD trails the opposition in the opinion polls and Caruana may well be facing his last year in office after being in the post for an awesome four terms.