My Journey With Together Gibraltar – Towards A More Inclusive Politics
By Nick Calamaro
Ahead of Together Gibraltar’s first public meeting since Marlene Hassan Nahon’s resignation, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on what Together Gibraltar and politics mean to me: the opportunities I have been given, the work left to do, and why the team and I are committed to staying the course.
What Together Gibraltar Means to Me
Despite a keen interest in politics from as far back as I can remember, getting involved locally always seemed like an impossible task. The only roles that seemed to be open were for a cheerleader to sit on the sidelines while the party elite made all the decisions.
In Together Gibraltar I found something radically different. Here was a team willing to make room for anyone with an interest in moving Gibraltar forward. Through their public debates, their policy workshops and the 2019 election, I had the chance to meet and learn from members of the public about a whole host of issues, from animal welfare to our foreign affairs. I got to share my own ideas and contribute to the party’s vision for Gibraltar while learning how to communicate these and turn them into workable policies.
Together Gibraltar gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and as an activist, to challenge myself, and to challenge the status quo. It gave me a home where I could make a difference and which I could trust to uphold its core values of inclusivity, participation and sustainability.
Why Gibraltar Still Needs a Third Party
If the last election is anything to go by, our politics still has a long way to go. Issues and ideology took a back seat to allegations, personal attacks and politicians patting themselves on the back. The two main parties were more interested in scoring points against each other than in addressing the real problems that Gibraltar faces. That atmosphere has driven people away from public service and from the hope that our politics will ever improve.
Together Gibraltar is still needed to offer a different way of doing things, one that is based on listening, collaborating and innovating. We are here to put the people first, create a space for the debates we need to have, to air the issues that need to be addressed and to empower Gibraltarians from all walks of life so they can stand up and get involved.
Political participation doesn’t begin and end at the ballot box. Everyone has a topic they can provide a policy view on, and everyone has something that we, as a party, can learn from. I’m excited for TG to show that outreach isn’t just for election years and to keep meeting with individuals and community organisations. With their input we can make sure TG has a constructive agenda and becomes known for finding solutions as well as problems.
Towing the Party Line
One concern I hear from many activists is that they are hesitant to join a party for fear of having to tow a party line. This is always tragic to me because our parties need diversity of thought just as much as they need unity of purpose. Of course there will be values we expect our members to adhere to: respecting civil rights, promoting social justice and protecting the environment. These values are enshrined in our charter and will be defended fiercely by our executive team. But much like parties in more mature democracies, there must be space for debate, disagreement and yes, even dissent.
I hope that over the next four years our team can show that parties do not need to be a monolith or that they already have all the answers. They should be a home for anyone who wants to get involved, to share their views, to learn from others and to work together for the common good. We are not afraid of constructive criticism, we welcome it. We are not bound by dogma, we are guided by principles.
A Culture of Opportunity
I hope that if Together Gibraltar continues to want me as their leader, that I will not be judged for my personal qualities, but by what I have done for the people around me. That when people think of Together Gibraltar they will not only remember our achievements and our proposals, but of how we empowered the people who make that possible. People who other parties might write off as too young, too old, too inexperienced, too different or too outspoken to make a difference.
It’s time to move away from the culture of fear that surrounds politics and to enable a culture of opportunity. A culture where people are encouraged to express themselves, to question the status quo, to be part of a movement. Together Gibraltar is more than a party, it’s a platform for the trailblazers, the changemakers and all those who believe in a better way for Gibraltar
If any of that resonates with you please come down to our public discussion this Thursday 23rd November and tell us about the Gibraltar you hope is possible.