Still undecided?

Unless those in the lead have the competence and the commitment to bring over new growth, this country is on the path to decline

Vision in a political party must go beyond the handling of regular business
Vision in a political party must go beyond the handling of regular business

On Saturday we give a direction to our country. Will it be a direction for change or more continuity? In these blessed islands most will vote in the way they have always voted. Since a few years however we are seeing a growing chunk of voters which weigh their choices. More and more are ready to switch between parties. Switchers, undecided, non-voters or those critical of all on the list. It is these who compose the critical cohort able to change the path of our country. If you belong to this group, I want to have a word with you in the following lines.

I don’t want to play innocent. I have lost a good part of my objectivity as an advisor to the floater or the undecided on the day that I decided to give a lending hand to the PN. In this path I strive however to be sensible to the different options on the table beyond PN. Let us elaborate on the options using a few key areas as the ground to compare the Nationalist Party and Labour’s offer.

The first battleground between political parties should be their vision and their ability to put it into practice. On Labour’s side, the vision of ‘Malta tagħna lkoll’ was meant to make this country more meritocratic where opportunities and equal rights were at the grasp of all in society. Labour was also expected to promote the position of the workers and labour mobility where social progress prevails while government was to be pro-business. Nine years of labour have shown that business is becoming more and more difficult starting from the mountain of additional bureaucracy imposed by Labour’s Greylist not to mention the quasi impossibility of participating in public procurement without an endorsement from ‘someone on the inside’. Workers cannot speak of a much better progress than business. Official statistics by the NSO demonstrate a situation of virtual wage stagnation from 2012 to 2022 with a mere 4% wage increase, not even enough to cover cost of living increases.

Labour did open up more equality on one front: on civil rights and freedoms especially for the LGBTI community. This is an area where any future government must build on. The PN has in fact lived up to this challenge not only by aligning its policy and being active and innovative on that front through policy proposals but also by fielding the most diverse set of candidates across the gender vectors.

Vision in a political party must go beyond the handling of regular business. Let us keep in mind that we live on a set of rocks 30 kilometres long detached form the continent and devoid of natural resources. The level of prosperity that we enjoy in 2022 is possible only thanks to the genius of this people to carve out opportunities in the international market, through foreign direct investment, through the attraction of new money in new areas by setting up innovative shops which others have failed to set up before us or as good as us. The ladies waving the labour party torch flag and those waving the PN maduma at the rallies have one thing in common for sure, their future depends on our collective ability to inspire trust in the world and to stimulate the ambition of investors in Europe, the US or China to settle here and provide jobs which may go to those flag wavers and their families.

How did the PN perform on this in the past and how did labour? The PN opened up new industries which were unheard of in Malta before PN governments actually laid down the laws and made the calls to attract the companies which now call Malta home. This goes for some of our best employers from gaming to financial services to aviation, pharmaceuticals and beyond. How did Labour perform on that front? It simply did not perform. Labour limits itself to opening up additional investments: a new sub office or a new production line of a company that set up shop in Malta during the PN government.

Make no mistake, this here is not a question of egos. This goes beyond that. Unless those in the lead have the competence and the commitment to bring over new growth, this country is on the path to decline. Our standard of living and quality of life on these beautiful islands depend directly on our ability to attract an influx of foreign investment to our shores. The PN is showing the will and the competence to start another cycle of success as from the end of March. We have a detailed plan to invest in attracting 10 new industrial sectors, from 3D printing to robotics, applications of Artificial Intelligence, eSports, production of video games, innovative energy sectors, social enterprises and the sports industry. This we will do while strengthening the industries that feed us right now, by strengthening the Maltese tourism product, by restoring reputation and hence adding value to our fin services and i-gaming industries too.

Beyond the vision, then we also need the people to accomplish such vision. Labour has a frontline of district ‘champions’ from ‘ok sieħbi’ Edward Zammit Lewis to ‘lumberjack’ Ian Borg to Rosianne Cutajar. These are labour’s champions thanks to the gifts and favours they managed to distribute over the past nine years, from fridges to oranges to €9,900 tenders to secure direct orders to canvassers and close friends. They are popular indeed. How can you not ‘like’ someone who distributes freebies and distorts the rules to give you an advantage over others? But does anyone really think that these ‘champions’ are the best set of people to run the country? Again? Do we want another re-run of the ‘mekenisms’ saga with Julia Portelli, or another season of tree massacres with Ian Borg or another charade of ethics by Rosianne Cutajar?

Does anyone seriously believe that the team on Labour’s side is better than the PN’s renewed and diverse set with new blood and energy with people like Julie Zahra, Rebekah Cilia, Josephine Xuereb and many many others? It is ironic that while they try to picture us as old or weak, the PN beats labour on all fronts on gender diversity and age. We have the youngest group and the biggest number of female candidates.   

Most importantly, none of the PN candidates carry labour’s luggage. The labour ‘champions’ were held ‘collectively responsible’ for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and are all behind the parasite contracts of Vitals and Electrogas and their systemic theft of the Maltese people.

The PN has now spent nine years in opposition. We learned from our mistakes and have humbled ourselves to listen, listen and listen to then finally speak only for the people. I have been visiting people in their homes for a few years now can see the tide changing when it comes to the PN’s image out there. Some years ago many households would still tell you of wrongs the PN did while in government. Those sore feelings are much less now, largely replaced by Labour’s own wrongs. Up till a few years ago, many would tell you that the PN is largely divided, still searching for its soul. That is no longer the case today. Bernard Grech is giving a soul to our call for change, founded on the need to work for concrete solutions for the people, across all sectors of society.

Our road has indeed been bumpy for a while. Now we are back in shape to provide leadership to the country. Now this beautiful country needs your help to avoid another five years of continuity. Change takes effort. We are ready to toil and work hard to implement change, to allow for new dreams, new horizons, new opportunities, which will include your own projects.

Malta needs your help. You may be undecided on who to vote as yet but you decidedly want a better country for all of us. If you abstain on Saturday, your silence will count as another signal for continuity. Are you ready to live with that risk?