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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

People don’t have opinions, they have parties

People have a difficulty in understanding the implications of the word 'loyalty'. Does it mean approving and agreeing with your party whatever it does? 

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
31 October 2017, 7:20am
A throwback to the 80s - the PN is depicting the current situation as a repeat of the abuses of the Mintoffian regime
A throwback to the 80s - the PN is depicting the current situation as a repeat of the abuses of the Mintoffian regime
A recent piece in ‘The Times of Malta’ by Revel Barker, who chose Gozo as the place where he retired – despite his critical ways of looking at both Maltese and Gozitans – included the comment that ‘In Malta, the majority of people don’t have opinions, they have parties’.

Although many times I find Barker’s comments rather uselessly irritating, I think this statement of his has hit the nail on its head. 

The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has brought out this phenomenon to the fore. People are having difficulty to judge her because she was neither really a supporter of the PN nor of the PL. Many were inclined to support her just because she attacked Labour – whatever she wrote and the way she wrote it. When she attacked the PN or exponents of the PN, people started having a different opinion of her. When she was brutally murdered, many changed again their opinion, following their party’s lead.

Some have dismissed this attitude as ‘hypocrisy’; but it is not that simple.

People have a difficulty in understanding the implications of the word ‘loyalty’. They think it means approving and agreeing with your party whatever it does. They consider anybody who disagrees with their party on any particular issue as ‘traitors’ or people who have switched to the other side. There is no leeway: the party is always right.

"Depicting Malta as some rogue state, as sections of the international media have done is doing untold harm to us and to the country our children will inherit"
This is ridiculous, of course.

People believe that the alternation of power is healthy for our democracy – so long as their party is always in power, of course.

This one-sided attitude, normally expected from extreme party hacks is spread among the majority of the population. The situation becomes completely ludicrous when the electorate decides to change the party in government. What was wrong suddenly becomes right and what was right becomes wrong.

As a result, many wallow in inconsistencies and contradictions without realising it. Those who claim that in Malta the rule of law is about to disappear – or even that it has broken down completely – organise online petitions asking the Prime Minister to fire a particularly stupid police officer who went online to express his happiness at the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Our rule of law imposes disciplinary procedures and rules that could lead to the sacking police officers but in this case, the same people that ‘lament’ the passing away of our country’s rule of law, expect the Prime Minister to ignore the rule of law.

From comments that one can read on the social media – and even in some newspapers – it is obvious that those lamenting about the state of our rule of law are just repeating parrot-like something that was said by some PN party bigwig. They, obviously, do not know what this is all about.

In this situation, party spokesmen have a big responsibility as regards the statements they make. But Maltese political parties are not bothered about their social responsibility – they just make gross statements and allegations which their followers keep on repeating until they become the ‘sacrosanct truth’. Just for the sake of some brownie points!

The PN’s attempt at depicting the current situation as a repeat of the abuses of the Mintoffian regime in the past – when party thugs behaved violently openly and with impunity – is wrong. Behind Beppe Fenech Adami’s palpable anger one can see the traumatic effect of his childhood experience when Labour thugs attacked his family home and his mother. This is the only reason why I tend to excuse the way he talks about the current situation being a repeat of what happened so many years ago. Others should know better.

Later the PN won a majority of votes and a minority of seats – a politically untenable situation. The PN’s struggle then was completely justified on moral grounds. Today the PN has lost an election with a bigger vote gap than it lost four years ago. There is no moral justification for the PN to attempt to destabilise the country.

Yet those who realise this and say so openly are depicted by the PN as blind Labour supporters or ignoble former PN supporters who have ‘committed treason’ or people who have been ‘bought’ by all kinds of hand-outs for which Labour is justly famous.

And it does all this while preaching democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

"Many were inclined to support her just because she attacked Labour – whatever she wrote and the way she wrote it"
On the other hand, while the Government avers its respect for the rule of law, prominent Labour party supporters who have been caught making money fraudulently are still being ‘investigated’ by the police who have as yet refrained from actually formally accusing them in the Courts. These silly attempts to undermine the course of justice do untold harm to the country and to the government of the day and continue to stoke the fire that must be doused for the country’s sake.

We need more responsible political parties who are prepared to sacrifice short-lived poltical gain for the sake of a better future vision of Malta.

No rogue state

Depicting Malta as some rogue state, as sections of the international media have done is doing untold harm to us and to the country that our children will inherit.

Comparing the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia with the state-sponsored assassinations of journalists in such countries as Russia and Turkey and third world countries – that are further away from our shores – is also wrong.

That is why I found it difficult to understand why her assassination was designated as a ‘political murder’. This spurious statement was later ‘explained’ by the claim that the attempt was possible in Malta because of the government’s shortcomings. Even this explanation stretches one’s imagination. Unsolved murders by criminal groups have occurred under the watch of both parties. Where these made possible because of the shortcomings of the government administered by the PN or the PL, whoever was in power? Or does the gravity of a murder depend so much on who is the victim?

There was no need for Daphne’s brutal murder to be used as a political ball between the two parties.

But then the Maltese don’t have opinions, they have parties.

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