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FCO fretted over ‘able, articulate, devious’ Bossano, documents show

FCO fretted over ‘able, articulate, devious’ Bossano, documents show

Joe Bossano’s dramatic breakthrough in the 1984 general election – in which his GSLP went from one to seven seats in the House of Assembly – caused considerable unease in Whitehall, newly released records reveal.

Ahead of the vote in January 1984, the then Governor Admiral Sir David Williams told London that Mr Bossano was “able, articulate, devious” and possessed a “vaunting ambition to be Chief Minister.” Further passages on Mr Bossano remain redacted.

A month later, after the election had catapulted the GSLP above the Democratic Party of British Gibraltar (DPBG) to become the main opposition to Sir Joshua Hassan’s AACR, Admiral Williams wrote that Mr Bossano was a “charismatic leader of dubious and perhaps Mintoffian purpose”, a reference to the Maltese politician Dominic Mintoff, who fought British colonial rule over Malta.

A more detailed analysis of the new leader of the opposition was provided by Richard ‘Dick’ Neilson, who was Deputy Governor in Gibraltar from 1981 to 1984.

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“Bossano has a somewhat exaggerated reputation in Gibraltar as an intellectual, but there is no doubt that he is a reasonably well-qualified economist and a highly-experienced trade union negotiator,” he began.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of Bossano to understand is that he is a Gibraltarian nationalist.”

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Tommy Norton
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