Fudge… and even more fudge

Do they honestly think that more fudge will explain all the fudge away?

The fudge with which the PN has been led over the last few years has now led to the inevitable mother of fudges.

The sorry episodes that climaxed into the business of the PN executive meeting on Thursday cannot be described otherwise. Have Franco Debono, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, and Jesmond Mugliett been expelled from the PN for not toeing the party line? The answer is as fudgy as one can be: not really, but they will not be allowed to stand for the election as PN candidates. So technically they are still Nationalist Party MPs.

This could indicate, however, that the days of stretching on this Administration’s term of office are over, but, on the other hand… As Lawrence Gonzi himself put it: ‘It’s a decision not to have them run on our ticket in the next elections. They are still members of the party... whether they support the government as MPs is up to them now. When the parliament reconvenes in the first week of October, we hope we can move the laws that we recently approved, as well as move the IVF, cohabitation and EU stability mechanism laws.’

The fudge can hardly get fudgier.

To many observers it does seem that discipline at this stage is too late – like the proverbial shutting of the stable door after the horse has already bolted. Many feel that a ‘no nonsense’ stance should have been adopted as soon as the signs of what could happen were so evident. Instead Gonzi opted for sweet talking and bending his back backwards – tactics that do not work with spoiled brats.

Pullicino Orlando’s attempt to involve Gordon Pisani, John Dalli and two Labour MPs as well as the Police Commissioner to prove his allegations on Richard Cachia Caruana is pathetic. Are his fudgy allegations against Cachia Caruana worthy of investigation by the PN executive committee? From what has been reported, the allegation that Cachia Caruana colluded with Alfred Sant’s 1996-98 Labour administration has no basis in reality. That people sitting on different sides of the political divide communicate with each other is obvious and this can never be considered to be tantamount to betraying one’s beliefs and principles.

Pullicino Orlando – of all people – should know that and his pathetic attempt to portray Cachia Caruana as some traitor to the PN cause is nothing short of ethereal. Perhaps, Pullicino Orlando’s move against Cachia Caruana was just a ploy to delay a decision against him that the PN executive seemed to be on the brink of taking. It did not work that way.

Pullicino Orlando has either never heard or decided to ignore the admonition attributed to Confucius: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

In my opinion, if the PN executive thought there might be something after all, it should have nominated a small team of three of its members to investigate the details and make recommendations rather than entertaining the possibility of turning itself into a kangaroo court.

No such decision was taken and one is not sure what was the PN’s real reaction to all this JPO nonsense – nothing except fudge of course. Do they honestly think that more fudge will explain all the fudge away?

Ever since last Sunday, when the Prime Minister predicted that very important decisions were to be taken by the PN executive on Thursday, the varying hot and cold winds coming from the PN’s headquarters – and duly reported in various sections of the press –did more to confuse people than to explain anything at all. The confusion was worse confounded and the fudge produced even more fudge.

Eddie Fenech Adami’s presence during the committee meeting only served to confirm that the failure on the part of the present leadership to galvanise the party behind him is now beyond reasonable doubt.

In turbulent times like this, a political party needs a strong leadership with a clear direction. Anything else could do more harm to the party than the original source of the turbulence. 

Yet, the present PN leader kept on postponing facing the issue, living in his own bubble while every day being viewed from outside more and more as a very sorry figure, oblivious of that well-known Italian saying: ‘tardaresi, scappare, no’!

In spite of the hyped up expectations that on Thursday the PN executive meeting was going to take very important decisions, it  simply approved a list of election candidates after unanimously approving a motion saying that the three ‘rebel’ MPs would not be allowed to stand as election candidates on behalf of the party.

Both Pullicino Orlando and Mugliett had already pre-empted this ‘very important’ decision as they had indicated that they had decided not to stand for re-election quite some time before.

That has simply left poor Franco Debono out in the cold: he reacted by incredibly describing the decision as ‘cruelty, absolute cruelty’.

I cannot help wondering by what stretch of the imagination he had expected a reprieve!

***

Hats off to the Judge who earlier this week ticked off in no uncertain manner the lawyers who appeared on behalf of the Superintendent of Health and who pleaded – amongst other things – that licences were a favour granted by the State and not the right of the citizen.

This is a remnant of an old school of thought coming from Roman law where all powers were vested in the Emperor – ‘Jure Imperii’, as one legal friend of mine explained. It is true that there is a bevy of old case law in which this idea has been given weight, but today everybody recognises that human and civil rights have more weight than the whims of the State.

When I was young, I once heard the owner of a village wine bar referring to his trading licence as the ‘supplika’ – a remnant from the days when to get such a trading licence one had to supplicate and plead to the sovereign – whether it was the Grand Master in the Palace at Valletta or the representative of the one who lived in Buckingham Palace – to grant him the privilege of opening a wine bar. These were privileges granted at the leisure of the sovereign.

That in the year 2012, lawyers representing one of the State’s many tentacles insist that this sovereign right prevails over the ordinary citizen’s rights, is an utter shame. I do not believe that the government of the day has such pretensions, but allowing its lawyers to claim them is a reflection of the way the mandarins’ administrative beliefs in the almighty state are being given priority over the government’s political beliefs that have been relegated to being played as a second fiddle.

The government’s political beliefs should be understood by its own lawyers who should not be allowed to betray them by taking legalistic stands that fly in the face of these beliefs – for they are the beliefs of the party in government and of the voters who elected it in power.

Anything else is a shame: this is an area where fudge is unacceptable and cannot be allowed.

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