That is what happens when you take voters for granted

While they may be a minority, there are many decent people out there whose main concern is that the country’s very soul has taken a sharp nosedive

File photo
File photo

It seems that Labour has realised, a little too belatedly, that it has completely disillusioned a lot of its supporters.

The penny seems to have dropped a couple of weeks ago (27 February) when the MaltaToday survey showed a substantial segment which is refusing to vote, bringing the gap between the two main parties down to 23,000 votes. Another survey published on the same day by the Times initially showed a different trend, claiming there would be a gap of around 44k.

On 7 March, the MaltaToday survey showed a slight improvement for the PL, with the gap at 27,000 votes, but voter abstention was firmly showing that it was coming mostly from erstwhile Labour voters.

Last week on 13 March, MaltaToday’s survey showed that, “the PL had lost 3.7% of 2017 support to PN, which loses 2.9%, a shift of 2,400 votes from Labour.”

By Friday, the Times was also reporting that 37,000 voting documents had not yet been collected. According to this paper, “Political analysts predict that abstentions mostly harm the incumbent party as being in government is more likely to result in failing to satisfy voters than being in opposition.”

The clearest indication that there would be voter abstention within the Labour ranks, however, came from the Prime Minister himself who started mentioning it in every single speech. Not one occasion has gone by, especially over this last week, when he hasn’t urged people to go out and vote. I must say there is a grim satisfaction in seeing this type of panic, because, just in case he hasn’t quite understood it yet, this rebellion is a result of too many years when voters who had entrusted the PL with governing, had to acknowledge the cold hard truth that they have been severely let down.

Unfortunately, just like the PN Government pre-2013, Labour politicians seem to think that being “let down” has to do with not granting enough political favours and not giving their constituents what they demand. And just like the Nationalists used to do back in the day, they have now resorted to beseeching voters, practically pleading with them, “tell us how we have hurt you! Approach us so we can right whatever is wrong.” Oh, so NOW they want to listen? Seeing this scenario repeating itself simply underlines the fact that while it took the PN 25 years, the Labour Government has managed to erode the goodwill they had enjoyed within just nine years. Arrogance can only be replied to in one way – by cutting the PL’s majority down to size.

If Labour is really that surprised that many of its supporters are turning their backs, perhaps it needs to be spelled out.

Many are furious about the out-of-control construction on every corner, which has even led to loss of life, and the Planning Authority rubber-stamping permits for humongous developments owned by the big guns, destroying entire villages, towns and the countryside in the process. If your home has suddenly been overshadowed by a monstrosity of a block of apartments, completely blocking out your view, your sunlight, and making your expensive solar panels redundant then why would you want to re-elect this administration?

Ian Borg has been busy chopping every tree in sight and subjecting the country to his vision of wider roads as a “solution” to the traffic problem which has, of course, been no solution at all. One bad accident on a main arterial road last week, gridlocked the entire country and no amount of road widening can prevent that. The only solution is to dissuade us from using our private cars but Labour will never rock that particular boat. Meanwhile, they try to mollify us by planting a few pathetic wispy saplings under flyovers to compensate for what has been destroyed - and are calling everything which is inaugurated ‘green open spaces’ and ‘gardens’. Do they think people have never seen what real gardens and parks look like? What is worse than the eradication of the greenery is the way we are often treated like imbeciles.

And let us not even get started about the direct orders, the cushy, lucrative jobs for friends and relatives, and the widespread employment of politicians’ constituents with the public sector. The history of corruption which has permeated every corner of this island for so long, has not only never been tackled, but under Labour it is brazenly right in your face. There isn’t even any pretence to try and hide it anymore. Those who genuinely believed Joseph Muscat back in 2013 thought things would be different but what we got what was more of the same, multiplied by infinity. Robert Abela, while making a few changes, has only scratched the surface of what is going on. Only those who always prosper no matter who is in government are happy with this state of affairs – for thousands of ordinary people with their ordinary jobs, it has become just too much to take.

Most of all, those with deep-rooted left-wing roots look at this Labour Party and do not know what to make of it any more. Rather than social justice for those who need it most, it is a party which is so cosy with the powerful business class and so obsessed with capitalism that it might as well rebrand itself as right-wing. When it does come up with proposals for the working class, it is not to lift them up to improve themselves, but to throw money at them, trying to blind them with handouts and freebies which are only a short-term quick fix. In fact, the go-to answer is to throw money at everyone, as we have seen during this campaign (a practice which has been emulated by the PN).

Unfortunately, the more they keep talking about money, the more it becomes clear that neither party really has its pulse on the reasons why so many have decided to stay home on 26 March or will be voting for other alternative parties and candidates. While they may be a minority, there are many decent people out there whose main concern is that the country’s very soul has taken a sharp nosedive. This is their one chance to send a clear, unequivocal message that even if Labour wins again, at least it won’t be with their vote.

Say my name, say my name

The law which made it possible for women to retain their maiden name on marriage came into effect decades ago.

Yet today, it seems that what should be something very straightforward, to which all government departments should have access with the tap of the keyboard, is still to this day mired in needless bureaucracy.

A number of women, including myself, received their tax rebate and the so-called stimulus cheques and realised that some anonymous clerk saw that they were married and had arbitrarily changed their identity, giving them their husband’s last name instead. Let’s leave aside the fact that the cheques cannot be cashed because the person who is named does not exist. The more galling thing about this official gaffe is that we have now been told that it is we who have to inform the tax department about the decision to keep our maiden name.

Now one of the reasons I didn’t want to change my name at this stage in my life is because it would have felt downright odd. A surname, after all, is part of one’s essence and one’s very identity. I realise that some women enjoy taking their husband’s name but it is not for me, as it makes me feel like an appendage.

So as I looked at this strange name it felt like someone had just swiped me out with a stroke of a pen; it felt like a violation. The other reason I wanted to keep my name is that I like to simplify things, and the thought of having to inform every single entity of a change of surname just seemed like a lot of extra work. So the fact that the inland revenue department actually needs to be informed that nothing has changed, seems to defeat the whole purpose of keeping things simple. I have never heard of anything more bizarre – surely they should only be informed if there is a change?

I have to say that my angry complaint was replied to immediately and I was told what to do to rectify matters, so in that respect were efficient. But it has created unnecessary hassle when the onus should be on all government departments to have the correct data.

Mine perhaps was only a minor irritant; what is worse are women who continue to receive tax rebates in their husband’s name, or what is worse, in their ex-husband’s name which can be even more problematic if it was an abusive relationship. There needs to be a complete overhaul of the inland revenue system, where women are recognised as individuals in their own right.

For all the talk about gender equality, no MP, male or female has ever sorted out this unacceptable state of affairs.

Beyond gender, however, there needs to be a thorough upgrading of the system, where if you change your address with Identity Malta, for example, it is automatically changed with every entity I do not think that this is too much to ask for in this day and age.