Friday, August 05, 2005

Feetham joins ruling Social Democrat Party

GSD - Labour merger * by Brian Reyes

The long-expected linkup between the ruling Gibraltar Social Democrats and the Labour party was finally confirmed yesterday.

It has been called a ‘merger’, a ‘fusion’ and a ‘joining of forces’, but in essence it amounts to Labour party members joining the GSD.

The new party will keep the GSD name and will be regulated by the GSD’s present constitution, legal form and structures. The policies of the GSD will also remain as they are at present, as will those of the government and its manifesto.

As reported in yesterday’s Chronicle, three members of the Labour party executive committee will be co-opted into the GSD’s executive committee.

Daniel Feetham - ex Leader of the Gibraltar Labour Party joins the Gibraltar Social Democrats today in a long anticipated merger of the two parties.One of those three will be Labour party leader Daniel Feetham.

The remaining two will initially be selected by Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister and leader of the GSD, and Mr Feetham, but their decision will have to be rubber-stamped by the GSD executive.

“Therefore it is in a sense the decision of the executive, but the executive understands the basis upon which this fusion has taken place and I fully expect that the executive of the party will endorse the agreement that we come to,” Mr Caruana said.

The remaining Labour party executive members will be joining the GSD, as will any other Labour party members who wish to do so.

Mr Caruana and Mr Feetham announced the widely anticipated move at a joint press conference yesterday, held at the GSD headquarters in College Lane.

They arrived at the GSD offices together and, surrounded by the party’s electoral posters and under the watchful gaze of senior GSD executive member Terry Cartwright, explained the detail of the union. In turn, they also dismissed any suggestion that the GSD was simply taking over the Labour membership.

“No one pretends that this is the coming together of two groups of people of equal size, weight, standing, political stature or anything of the sort, Mr Caruana said.

“This is not a formula to hide anything that is not the reality.

It is an honest, sincere formula that reflects the position, the spirit of both parties in which this is taking place, and it is the logical, natural way to do it.”

Mr Feetham added:

“It is the coming together of a group of people with a common set of values, with a common vision for Gibraltar, who want to offer the electorate at the next election a single alternative.”

Mr Feetham confirmed that he intends to present himself as a candidate for the GSD’s next electoral line-up but insisted, as did Mr Caruana, that he had been given no assurances in this regard, and that he had sought none.

He said that he and his Labour colleagues would work hard to prove their worth within the new party and gain the confidence of their new political partners.

“Frankly, my personal view is that I’m confident he’ll succeed in achieving that,” Mr Caruana said, adding that GSD members would also have to work to gain mutual respect.

“I think that that is the correct way to go about it and I think it’s a formula for guaranteed success,” Mr Caruana said.

The Chief Minister also confirmed that Mr Feetham would retain his place on the committee on constitutional reform.

“I think it would be unnecessary and unfair that he should now stand down from that - he is welcome, if he so wishes, to continue travelling with the government to its regular appearances before the United Nations.”

Mr Feetham gave ample praise to the GSD government’s “policies and judgement” on a range of issues, both domestic and international.

And while he had been critical of the delay in delivering affordable housing, he said Mr Caruana had “acknowledged this and satisfied me that he has the necessary plans to rectify this.”

Mr Caruana was asked about GSD executive members who had opposed the move and whether he expected any of them to leave the party. He replied, as he had done earlier this week, that this was a matter for the individuals concerned.

Related Article:

05 August 2005 - Feetham was already on the other side, says Bossano

04 August 2005 - Reform Party declares itself 'the independent force'

03 August 2005 - Caruana confirms GSD/Labour link is moving ahead

04 June 2005 - GSD divisions over Labour merger surface

03 June 2005 - Azopardi airs question mark over labour merger

01 June 2005 - Caruana to formally explore merger with Feetham

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