Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
raphael_vassallo
Raphael Vassallo

Come together (over my dead body)

The PN could only go one way or another; and whichever path it chose, it would automatically have lost a significant chunk of its voter base. The most recent polls indicate that the haemorrhage has in fact been more severe

raphael_vassallo
Raphael Vassallo
3 January 2018, 7:13am
President Marie-Louise Coleiro chose to forego her own Christmas message this year, and instead ceded the floor to four children. One of them “spoke of being disappointed by Malta’s adults, and called for the spirit of Christmas – hope, trust, unity, respect and generosity – to be observed on a daily basis
President Marie-Louise Coleiro chose to forego her own Christmas message this year, and instead ceded the floor to four children. One of them “spoke of being disappointed by Malta’s adults, and called for the spirit of Christmas – hope, trust, unity, respect and generosity – to be observed on a daily basis
It is a curious fact that everyone suddenly seems to realise exactly what Malta’s problems are, and exactly how to solve them... but only for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Last I looked, there were actually 52 weeks in a solar year. And for 51 of them, we tend to behave in the exact opposite of the way we all exhort everyone else to behave during the last seven days. And once even those are up – the day after tomorrow, to be precise – well, what do you know? We all revert right back to pre-Christmas mode: half the time, without so much as batting an eyelid.

If it wasn’t so predictable, it would be uncanny. But look at how many calls for ‘national unity’ we’ve been getting this Christmas season. Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia “stressed the need for respect in order for there to be unity” at this year’s ‘annual exchange of season’s greetings outside Parliament’. At the same venue, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said: “We need to bring hope, and deliver the message that politics does not necessarily mean hatred and division. We need to deliver the message that politics can bring people together, like tonight, and that we are capable of working for the common good for Malta...”.

Even outside the parliamentary circuit, most columnists and political pundits seem to have joined the chorus. On Xtra this week, former PN information secretary Frank Psaila “insisted it was important for the country to come together, but before this could happen, people’s faith in the Police force needed to be restored.” And on it goes...

You will surely notice, though, that while all these different musings hover vaguely about the concept of ‘national unity’... they all seem to place certain conditions on how it can be achieved. Farrugia and Psaila, for instance, both talk of ‘unity’ as if it were something that can only come about on their own precise terms. Farrugia demands ‘respect’ – does he know he’s quoting Joe Pesci from ‘Goodfellas’, I wonder? – while, even more curiously, Psaila’s example homes in on a very specific issue: suggesting that Malta’s tendency towards political hatred is actually the direct fault of the Police Force; and can therefore be ‘fixed’ by means of a reform of the Corps.

"We’re not as retarded a nation as the BBC likes to portray us, you know. We can recognise a crock of bullshit when we see (or hear) one"
Even just there, you can admire the sheer vacuity of such positions in all their spinning, whirling contradiction. Both sides agree that ‘unity’ would be a nice thing to work towards; but both sides disagree fundamentally on the causes of the very division they want to heal. And as a preface to ‘negotiations’, they all place conditions that are simply impossible to ever meet, because they are themselves rooted in the very issues that divide us. Where does that leave the road to national unity? Where can it possibly leave it, other than exactly where it was before the ‘spirit of Christmas’ engulfed all our senses? (i.e, nowhere to be seen, for 51 whole weeks of the year?)

But much as I hate to say it, these arguments are also vacuous because we all know they are simply untrue. Here, Delia’s take spells it out more clearly than most. Consider, for instance, how his own call for unity departs from a premise that can only be described as a bizarre flight of fancy:

“We need to deliver the message that politics can bring people together”, he told us. “We are capable of working for the common good for Malta,” he said. Erm... sorry, Dr Delia. You can’t expect people to take that message seriously, when it is so manifestly WRONG. Politics cannot ‘bring people together’. Whatever gave you that absurd idea in the first place? It cannot even want to bring people together (except perhaps over the Christmas period) because its own survival depends precisely on sowing division, not unity.

And when have our politicians ever worked for ‘the common good of Malta’, anyway? How can they, when their very concept of the ‘common good’ is inevitably going to be based on their own, divisive political objectives?

I mean, come on. We’re not as retarded a nation as the BBC likes to portray us, you know. We can recognise a crock of bullshit when we see (or hear) one. And if 2017 has made anything visible with any clarity, it is precisely the sheer inability of politics to ever heal what is ultimately a political divide. Delia himself began his whole career as Nationalist leader by describing Labourites as ‘the enemy’. That was the ‘message’ he was ‘delivering’ only five months ago. And what... now, he suddenly turns around and stresses the importance of delivering the clean opposite message? To dispel a division that he has helped to perpetuate himself?

A tad late for that, I should think. Also because – truth be told – Delia has so far proved incapable of instilling unity even within his own party... still less the entire country. To be fair to him on at least this, he faced an impossible situation from the very start. Last August’s leadership election posed a choice between two mutually incompatible leadership visions (such that they were)... and more importantly, exposed an unbridgeable rift between rival factions which seem to have completely forgotten the fine art of ‘political compromise’.

As a result, the PN could only go one way or another; and whichever path it chose, it would automatically have lost a significant chunk of its voter base. The most recent polls indicate that the haemorrhage has in fact been more severe than even the worst-case projections. So even if Delia is entirely genuine in his ‘call for unity’... the platform he leads is too weak and fractured to actually do anything about it. Especially considering that it is far too busy fighting a war with itself, to start ‘peace talks’ with another party.

Meanwhile, there is abundant evidence that the rest of Malta doesn’t necessarily want to ‘unite’, either. While people like Frank Psaila quote (wittingly or unwittingly) John Lennon, their chorus of ‘Come Together’ is met not with the refrain ‘over me’... but with a resounding ‘over my dead body’. For 51 weeks of the year, this is not a country that ever seems willing to put its political differences aside. Wait till Tuesday, and you’ll see what I mean.

One particularly poignant news item this year seemed to sum it all up, really: “Concert intended to unite the Maltese through music has been cancelled”. I found that rather sad, because music has indeed been a politically unifying force in other parts of the world. Global awareness of apartheid in South Africa owed much to rock concerts by the likes of Paul Simon, and to songs like ‘Sun City’. In Malta, however, even the causes of this concert’s cancellation became immediately mired in political controversy. You can imagine, then, how much Maltese politicians will ever ‘come together’... when not even music – the healer of all things, if poets are anything to go by - is capable of making a jot of difference.

But then, perhaps even I myself succumb to this malady of ‘suddenly realising how all problems can be solved’ at Christmastime. Because there is a simple solution to this mess (in theory, anyhow; in practice, it is about as ‘simple’ as handbook on quantum mechanics in Portuguese).

Interestingly enough – for there is always a ray of hope, even in the bleakest of times – it fell to the least likely speaker imaginable to point it out for us, once and for all, during that annual exchange of greetings. President Marie-Louise Coleiro chose to forego her own Christmas message this year, and instead ceded the floor to four children. One of them “spoke of being disappointed by Malta’s adults, and called for the spirit of Christmas – hope, trust, unity, respect and generosity – to be observed on a daily basis.”

Can we give that child a Gieh ir-Repubblika medal, please? I couldn’t put it more succinctly if I tried. All these ‘calls for national unity’ we’ve been hearing? Let’s hear them for all 52 weeks of the year, instead of only one. And let’s see them backed up a palpable will to actually unite, too... instead of just to permanently fester in a quagmire of contrived animosity.

And while we’re at it: let’s also end all wars, feed the hungry, solve global warming, find a cure for cancer, and guarantee peace and prosperity for all mankind. I mean, how hard can that be, anyway? Surely, not as hard as...

Ah well, never mind. Let’s just have a Happy New Year, shall we? There, that’s something we can surely ‘come together’ over... even if only until the day after tomorrow...

DealToday
follow us on facebook