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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

Tears of despair

Many PN supporters are crying tears of despair as their party tries to find the way to the future. Angry their party has been beaten in elections twice in a row, some cannot understand why

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
12 September 2017, 7:30am
Many stalwart PN supporters are crying tears of despair witnessing the travails of their political party as it gropes in the dark to find the way to the future. They are angry that their party has been whipped so badly in elections – not once but twice in a row. And some cannot understand why.

After all this was the party that stood up to the excesses of Mintoff and his gang of thugs that he couldn’t control. 

A detached observer would see a parallel with what happened to the Knights of Malta on the arrival of Napoleon, or to Mintoff when he closed down the military base in 1979. Both had seen their enemies disappear and this had also made them obsolete.

In the case of the PN, this happened when it reached its goal of Malta becoming a member state of the EU, more so when Labour under Muscat embraced Malta’s EU membership as if it was his idea! Some say that anchoring Malta to mainland Europe was the dream that fuelled the PN since the 1880s when it was founded. At the time Britain was hardly considered to be part of Europe. The British still believe they are not, as the Brexit misdaventure is showing. 

No doubt our EU membership was a game changer. There is no need any more for one to fight tooth and nail to save freedom and democracy. These are now taken for granted. 

The Labour Party also had to go through the pain of a rebirth. Under Joseph Muscat it was reinvented to suit today’s political climate.

The current prolonged and unmatched economic boom owes its origins to the PN’s direction when in government – a direction that Joseph Muscat cleverly built upon.

So here we are today, with a Labour government partly privatising the energy sector and partly privatising the management of the education and medical services, warts and all. The Labour pro-business approach has gone much further to the right than any PN supporter envisaged. Now, there is little or no substantial ideological difference between the two political parties. The PN has won that battle. This is the reason why the tears of despair are uncalled for. 

In choosing its new leader, the PN is facing a dilemma. In the end, however, it is Napoleon’s dictum that matters: ‘A leader is a dealer in hope.’ That is where Simon Busuttil’s leadership failed. Integrity and honesty – as always mixed with a dose of hypocrisy – do not inspire hope. That is why his leadership was a complete failure, increasing the PN’s vote deficit from 30,000 to 40,000 and losing two seats to a parasitic political setup that managed to dupe him.

What is going on is no doubt a challenge to the PN. In Opposition, its main – but crucial – job has to be to check the performance of the government and to provide an alternative where things go wrong. Will the new leader manage to do this in a serious manner while raising the hopes of PN supporters?

Labour faces a challenge, as well. Joseph Muscat has already said that the last election was his last. This is the time when he has to choose to go down in our political history as a true statesman or not. Will he end his political adventure in Malta as a true European who really believes in the rule of law or will he opt for the very successful Macchiavellian methods where the end justifies the means and where there is no relationship between ethics and politics?

Has he learnt from the so called ‘mistakes’ of his first term in office? Will he allow his successors to condone corruption as he obviously did by closing an eye on several occasions, or he will ensure that, once gone, it will not happen again? 

The one big lesson of the last five years is that our checks and balances have, so far, largely failed. The rule of law has been abused and the only bulwark left is the much maligned judiciary that – despite its many failings – has a record of rising to the occasion when it really mattered. 

During the next few years, will Muscat’s administration co-operate with the Opposition to come up with some judicial reform and to strengthen our checks and balances, especially in those areas where they have obviously failed?  

Of course, this means having to give up a good part of the power of incumbency and this is not an easy decision. 

Only true statesmen, who look beyond the next election, do it. History’s judgement of Joseph Muscat depends on the way he behaves and acts in the next four years or so.

***

Journalism and truth

Serious journalism is all about the search for truth and informing the people about the true facts. The reader (or listener/televiewer) should be allowed to reach conclusions freely and without undue influence.

That is why I do not consider Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog as journalism. Dishing out three vicious posts in as many hours is hardly the hallmark of good journalism. It is merely a rumour mongering machine where truth is irrelevant: its aim is not to disseminate truth but to purvey hate for whoever she hates. 

As to her flair for investigations, she must have got it from the likes of Inspector Clouseau!

Her claim that her abhorrent methods are normal in the international press is, of course, completely off the mark.

Rather than pontificating – as I have been accused of doing by people who pontificate – I will cite an example that shows the pride of the serious international press in its defence of the truth.

The New York Times launched its “The Truth Is Hard” campaign with a series of ads to pitch itself against facebook and google by reminding the world about the role of journalism in holding power accountable and delivering the truth in this post truth era of fake news. 

 

This is how one of the adverts went:

The truth is hidden.

The truth must be pursued.

The truth is hard to hear.

The truth is rarely simple.

The truth isn’t so obvious.

The truth is necessary.

The truth can’t be glossed over.

The truth has no agenda.

The truth can’t be manufactured.

The truth doesn’t take sides.

The truth isn’t red or blue.

The truth is hard to accept.

The truth pulls no punches.

The truth is powerful.

The truth is under attack.

The truth is worth defending.

The truth requires taking a stand.

The truth is more important now than ever.

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
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