michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

The singer not the song

Many posts on blogs and on Facebook provoke such one-sided blind hate that one starts to doubt whether we really are a mature and civilised country

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
27 June 2017, 7:30am
'The problem with Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil was that they had no experience with the common citizen'
'The problem with Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil was that they had no experience with the common citizen'
The inability of many to distinguish between the song and its singer has led to a very sorry situation in Maltese politics.

As a result, arguments about Maltese politics have reached a stage where hate of others is palpable and reason is nowhere to be seen. Many posts on blogs and on Facebook provoke such one-sided blind hate that one starts to doubt whether we really are a mature and civilised country that deserves to be a member state of the European Union. 

Not because one does not find hate speech and political drivel in other European countries, but because – in our case – it has become the common approach of many supporters of both main poltical parties. Perhaps it is because we do not really have adequately strong fringe parties that one finds the sort of divisive and rabid language of European fringe political parties within the fringes of the two main parties themselves.

Yet these people are doing a great disservice to their own cause with many on one side mistakenly concluding that the rabid voices on the other side represent what the other side stands for. Politics has fallen into disgrace. Too many people fall into the trap of reacting as if they believe that peccadillos – sexual or otherwise – of politicians are serious, disgusting, and/or to be laughed at, according to which political party the person in question militates. 

The sin is of no concern, of course: it is the poltical colour that matters when people come to pass judgement on others – which, as they should realise, they have no right to do, anyway. The same transgression is treated differently by certain blogs and people posting comments on the social media, depending on whose side the ‘guilty’ party is. Guilty is the right term, of course, because social media pronounces any person on the other side of the poltical divide as guilty just because that person is on the ‘other’ side. This betrays an abnormal bias that is incredibly subversive and that is leading to an uncontrollable unprecedented spiral of verbal violence that is poisoning the country.  

I am fed up seeing blogs that purportedly report what someone else is saying and doing so in a very clever manipulative way, provoking comments that rely on what the commentators think was said rather than on what was actually said. Why bother to check whether the message has been distorted, if one likes the way it has been reported as it fits in nicely with one’s bias?

And the argument goes on and on, taking a life of its own, creating and confirming a piece of fake news that suits one side and not the other. This is not just the fault of one side. Both know how to play the game although a particular blogger excels in it. 

I can lay the blame on many on both sides of the political divide but surely playing the blame game does not make it any better.

Our political leaders also share the blame of omission – they either do not have the guts to condemn outright the abuse of their own ‘followers’ or make it worse by trying to profit from the hate-mongering for electoral gain.

An acrimonous election is over. Surely, it is time to give peace a chance. Both political parties should publicly condemn those within their ranks who are responsible for the pitiful state this country finds itself in.

Or am I hoping for too much?

***

WANTED: A VILLAGE LAWYER

The race for a new PN leader is on. I do not know who will be taking part, nor am I interested in promoting one rather than another.

It is the opportune time, therefore, for me to paint a picture of the ideal leader for the PN – not because such a person really exists but to help those looking to make the PN great again. Many do not even know the characteristics and traits that the new leader should ideally have.

The problem with Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil was that they had no experience with the common citizen. Their feet were nearly never on the ground. Apart from their defects – and everybody has defects – their big problem was that their experience of life had never really put them in touch with the way the average Maltese man and woman thinks and reacts.

This was something that Eddie Fenech Adami excelled in. He was able to gauge any proposal on the way he thought that the poeple would react to it. His assessment was almost always correct – without relying on opinion polls. His experience as a ‘village lawyer’ came in handy – rather the opposite of what was thought by whoever dismissed him as such.

Eddie never lived in a bubble made up by those who surrounded him. He was down to earth in the sense that he always knew what was being said by ordinary folks taking an early morning tea or coffee in the village bar. His informers were no pompous asses who can only transmit their own opinion in a self-defeating game where leaders are fed the information that the ‘informers’ think they want to hear.

He was also aware that the social milieu of the Sliema district does not reflect the majority of the people of Malta – irrespective of who is wrong and who is right. Not that this milieu was to be ignored but that it should not be considered as a good reflection of the whole country.

So the new leader must have had a good dose of experience of the real Malta. 

He or she must also have a strong character: strong enough to make a clean sweep within the PN – an earthquake, to plagiarise Joseph Muscat. At the same time the new leader should be  charismatic enough to make everybody feel that the PN is their natural party, to make people believe in a better furure under his/her leadership.

The new leader has to be prepared to do this cleverly and patiently – hysterics and hyperbole should not feature in the long-drawn period between one election and another.

Successful leaders are also people who can put their foot down whenever necessary – without kicking anybody in the ass and pushing them to the other side. 

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