Marlene Hassan Nahon's New Year Message

Together Gibraltar’s New Year message from Marlene Hassan Nahon:

Dear Gibraltarians, as your loyal public servant and the most voted Opposition MP, I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to wish you all a happy new year.

Unfortunately, existing media protocols were not designed to accommodate our current 3-party dynamic, so we’ll yet again have to take the alternative path. If you believe in the values of Together Gibraltar and the importance of our message, we would appreciate it if you could forward this video in order to help us overcome this lack of exposure. 

2019 was a big electoral year. Locally, besides The GSLP’s re-election, the big story was the fact that over 20 percent of Gibraltarians put their faith in Together Gibraltar, a new, truly progressive political party that captured the imagination of many in the community, with policy pillars based on equality, social justice, and the fight against corruption and climate change. These pillars will continue to drive our op- position efforts in the coming legislature. 

In the UK, we finally saw Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposition succeed in the December elections. It was a tough blow for all of us who believe in the European project, and believe that Gibraltar’s interests are best served by being part of the Union, but it is time to accept this inevitability and work together to minimise its aftermath. 

On this issue, as well as with all issues that are pivotal to the national interest, The Government can count on me and on Together Gibraltar to provide assistance and support every step of the way. I stand with our Chief Minister in support of his message of responsibility and courage, and have total faith in our nation’s resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity. 

I cannot, however, endorse the elements of belligerence and Churchillian grand- standing that transpire from Mr Picard’s New Year’s speech. Even though statements made by members of VOX are entirely reprehensible and deserve a firm response in the courts, these affairs must be conducted in a measured and judicious manner. Let me make this clear, VOX represents the polar opposite of Together Gibraltar in political terms, and I oppose their ideas and political positions with a pas- sion. However, appearing on sensationalist Spanish TV programmes and issuing defiant public statements in the current circumstances is simply not intelligent politics. 

These are not times for sabre rattling and testosterone, firstly, because we are an open and tolerant nation, secure in our national identity and confident in our institu- tions, and most importantly because it could potentially be bad for Gibraltar. 

It is time to tone down the Nationalistic rhetoric, which rouses the emotions of the electorate in a way that benefits only Mr. Picard and his party. These times of un- certainty require a thoughtful, sensitive and responsible approach to politics that will put Gibraltar in the best possible position to dialogue with ALL parties, even with those with whom we profoundly disagree. Instead, the chief minister insists on developing a cult of personality that could weaken his position at future negotiating tables and, ironically, benefits extremist parties like VOX. The best way to combat these fascist ideals is to continue to be ourselves, doubling down on our commitment to the values of respect, tolerance, diversity and democracy. 

In Spain the last elections have finally delivered a progressive coalition that includes the support of nationalist parties from many different parts of the country. The support of the primary Basque and Catalan parties’ points to the democratisation of the Spanish national identity, if not via a full-blown referendum in Catalonia, at least via reforms that will be more respectful of national diversity and the doctrine of self- determination. 

This lays out a favourable context for Gibraltar and its interests in anticipation of the coming negotiations, and I hereby offer the Chief Minister my support in the mission of establishing good working relationships with this administration, so we may cement a respectful and mutually beneficial post-Brexit relationship. 

2020 will also be the year in which the government will ask Gibraltar whether we want to allow women to have reproductive freedoms now granted by almost the entire western world and broadly considered to be basic human rights. We said this repeatedly throughout the campaign and it is worth saying again: Basic human rights should not be put up to referendum. It sets a dangerous precedent, and exposes us to the humiliation, in the case of a negative outcome, of the UK supreme court having to intervene to override our archaic legislation. 

In any case, we have to put an end to the status quo as soon as possible. Having to terminate pregnancies in Spain exposes our women to heightened social stigmas and big financial burdens. It is unfair, discriminatory, it is bad social policy and it violates our human rights. Furthermore, it deprives women of counselling and support networks which could potentially prevent many abortions taking place. It is for these reasons that Together Gibraltar will be campaigning, with other pro-choice organisations, for the new law to be implemented in March, despite our reserva- tions. 

2020 also starts with a stark reminder of the global environmental crisis we are facing. After suffering years of persistent heat and drought, Australia is being ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swathes of the country devastated since the fire season began in late July. A total of 27 people has died nationwide, and in the state of New South Wales (NSW) alone, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 

The environmental impact of these fires is absolutely catastrophic, and much worse could be yet to come. We must heed this warning and act urgently, and continue to push our Government to deliver on their environmental commitments. So far, sever- al months into the legislature, nothing has materialised. No transformational envi- ronmental policy has been rolled out, or impactful measure taken. What we do know now is that the Government have committed 50M to assist the developers of Victoria Keys to fund their reclamation project, the environmental impact of which we still know nothing about, and that the unsustainable building spree is set to con- tinue for another 4 years. What happened to the Green manifesto promised to the electorate? We will hold the Government to account on this and every other issue that affects you. 

And it is not only in environmental issues that we are yet to see any meaningful transformation. three months into the legislature, we are yet to see any indication that corruption will be seriously tackled, inequalities addressed and opportunity distributed broadly, and fairly. 

In the meantime, we will be told to rally around the flag and stand up firm to the en- emy. We will be compelled to feel outraged by the insolence of our deplorable opponents. Taking a leaf from national-populists and demagogues from around the world, our Chief Minister has started to promote his very own brand of identity poli- tics, in the hope that it will distract us from the lies, the spin and the dishonesty of this GSLP administration. This seems to be the name of the game in politics today, and sadly we are not immune to this pernicious trend. 

But we are here to remind the people of Gibraltar that there is another way. We will continue to work for you, humbly, patiently, but with clarity and conviction. Calling out the Government’s bad practices and providing help and support to our constituents. 

If you too believe in a better way, come and join us at one of our public meetings. Let’s unite, organise, and make it happen. There is a lot of work to do. 

My dear Gibraltarians, I wish you all a wonderful 2020.