It is all about winning, nothing else

We need change, but more important than change, we need politicians with substance, men and women with ideology and moral standing, to stand and speak out without looking behind their backs

It was all there: the strategic electioneering, the vote-maximising policy planks, the great campaigner, all coupled with spin, flash, and even untruth
It was all there: the strategic electioneering, the vote-maximising policy planks, the great campaigner, all coupled with spin, flash, and even untruth

When it is all over, there will be a leader. A leader of a party. And they will emphasise in their first days that they will work hard to elect their party to government. Somehow they seem to forget that the reason that people become politicians is not only to launch political campaigns and get elected, but to change people’s lives and propose new political projects.

For the Nationalist Party to win the hearts of voters it cannot afford to be hard on all those niche groups or strata in Maltese society who look at politicians as a means to an end.

Their leader, for example, will not be able to talk of tax as simply a necessary evil. Of course, I’m sure any talk of tax will be avoided for the more obvious of reasons; but the reality is that today, more than ever, the morality of paying tax is a much-needed discussion that has to be part of our debate.

It will be difficult for the Nationalist Party not to talk about reviewing planning laws – if it dares to – and the rules regulating heights and local plans. Labour’s lax policies on planning led voters in droves to cast their preference for Labour because it made economic sense to them.

Would the PN dare to answer its European calling and abide by the Birds Directive to control hunting in spring, or will it be reluctant for fear of unsettling the small but vociferous hunting and trapping fraternity, whose core vote is today married with Labour?

A modern, European conservative party that is sure of its identity and roots in liberal democracy, would not be scared of allowing the debate on abortion and euthanasia to be led by civil society, and abide by the will of the majority in a referendum. Or will the PN be knee-capped by its small but vocal, Catholic conservative vote?

The PN’s new-found antipathy to do away with political patronage when it comes to appointing individuals to political and sensitive posts will surely be discarded once ministers start wondering “who they can trust” or how can they curry favour from their constituents if not with plum jobs and choice contracts.

And finally, the idea of blocking financial support from big business will lead party activists to question how their party can be expected to function and operate if they do not accept money from big business. Of course, supping with the devil always requires a long spoon. Surely, the PN will have to stock up on some very fine cutlery in the coming weeks.

Imagine taking all of this into consideration, and wondering which leader could pull such a feat: you would need a leader who is not only charismatic but a shining example of principles and capable of attracting voters who are not bound to their party.

The truth is that success in politics has been reduced to whether your party can win the election – that is, the democratic ingredients of electioneering, pluses and minuses on spin and propaganda – and not what your party stands for or whether your party has a political vision in place. And that means, that a “good” leader is somehow who is a good campaigner – not necessarily a truthful one, or someone who is offering a new future.

In 2013, the political manifestos of the PN and PL looked similar, with no evidence of hidden agendas. There was little talk of the IIP, or gas from SOCAR, or how planning laws would turned to encourage more construction, villas inside rural areas, and destruction of the environment.

Both Lawrence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat were good and well-matched debaters. But the people were tired of the PN, tired of its high-handedness and arrogance. The viciousness with which critics were despatched, both internally and, with one blog in particular, externally, made that haemorrage more extreme in certain quarters.

But after 2013, it would have been unbelievable to learn that some people, people at the very top, had entered into politics to enrich themselves – as we have come to learn over the past seven years. It was all there: the strategic electioneering, the vote-maximising policy planks, the great campaigner, all coupled with spin, flash, and even untruth.

Even after all this, it may not be enough to move people to change their political allegiance.

We need change, but more important than change, we need politicians with substance, men and women with ideology and moral standing, to stand and speak out without looking behind their backs.

School’s out

This week, I asked Marco Bonnici, the president of the MUT, whether teachers would be willing to walk that extra mile and increase their contact hours to make up for lost time with students. He went into a long convoluted answer which meant ‘no’. My reference to the contact hours is about what foreign students have in their schools and other countries when it comes to teacher-contact.

My questions on the lack of contact hours in Maltese schools that will open on 14 October were left unanswered. Both education permanent secretary Frank Fabri and education minister Owen Bonnici insisted that State schools could have started beforehand but they refused to point a finger at the MUT.

What is the problem in saying that the MUT are in the wrong?

What is the problem of saying that unionised teachers have been selfish and difficult in these last weeks?

A comparison between private and State and even Church schools will show very clearly that private schools have been well versed in opening to their students and most importantly active in their online teaching.

Clearly State schools have been lagging behind.

As the case with most things, no one seems to take responsibility for this fiasco.

COVID-19

COVID-19 infections continue to rise and more deaths are being recorded. It is high time that the restrictions that are being imposed are enforced. If we do not bring the numbers down, we will all be suffering and our economy will be entering a very difficult period with tourism arrivals at a standstill.

The only reason the vast majority have still not come to terms with this crisis, is because they still receive a government wage, unlike many in the private sector who have had to face severe cuts.

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