ERG/AOP responds to Musicians’ Association

‘We welcome the Musicians’ Association’s airing of their concerns regarding Equality Rights Group/Action on Poverty’s campaign statements on the issue of poverty; but would welcome greater understanding and richer perspectives when it comes to pronouncements on the treatment meted out to the poor and vulnerable in our society,’ the NGO’s spokesperson responded.

‘It’s clear that MAG respects ERG, as we, in turn, respect them. Yet we clearly disagree, and profoundly.
‘Because while the economic case the Musicians’ Association so ably makes in their uncharacteristically public statement on behalf of business is a perspective they advance, no case, let alone an economic case is or has been made on behalf of the poor, the benefit-dependent, the low-income elderly or otherwise vulnerable.

‘ERG/AOP, however, makes that case and we’ve been doing so for the past three years. And we continue to make it in an of itself because of the intrinsic importance and value (without economic qualification) of the marginalised in defence of our human values in society. Because the only justification is human.

‘And without doubt we do make that case forcefully. Because it would appear that for too long we have been more than happy to cruise along from year to year letting things stand just as they are. That endemic neglect and blind spot towards this sector is not sustainable for us as a society.

‘We at ERG/AOP are not willing to look the other way. And nor should the rest of us in Gibraltar. And more and more people from all walks of life are now waking up.
‘And so we call out society, the MAG included, to put the poor and the vulnerable at the centre of their focus and their concerns. Because a society that marginalises the least able is not a healthy one. There is something wrong when we fail to understand that an economic system that favours some but neglects others and turns them into permanent third-class citizens is a system that fails us all in the long run.

‘Because we all have members of family, friends, or acquaintances who, for whatever reason, find themselves living without the concern of others, leaving a number of good-hearted individuals labouring in the background feeding families and single people, providing them with necessities the rest of us take for granted.

‘The Musicians Association of Gibraltar argue their case based on two long years of pandemic, overlooking and ignoring the many, many more years that a good number of economically vulnerable people of many different ages have lived on the margins of society with a social security system that is desperately out-of-touch and out-of-date. And unlike the rest of us who have now been vaccinated or otherwise taken care of they, however, will not see an end to their situation and will continue to live minimally unless we wake up and demand change. Poverty is an illness that needs addressing.

‘We do, nonetheless, agree with MAG’s campaign that ‘Local Culture is our Responsibility’. But that must include the culture that abandons individuals to live in hardship.

‘Finally, MAG speaks of Pride as if it’s one more business opportunity. Pride was born out of political demands for social justice, with solidarity and caring at its base. It certainly was not predicated on building business or profit.

‘ERG/AOP does not militate against the open market economy. We are not an ideologically-fixed organisation. But we do take umbrage at the use politicians, governments and business associations attempt to make of Pride for business ends, when placing those ends above in their consideration to issues and justifiable concerns for social advance.

All this said, we at ERG/AOP are more than happy at any time to meet with representatives of the Musicians Association to exchange views and create understanding.