The Plain Truth

Politicians have to learn to see the wider interest of society and communities and not only the narrow ones. The Plain Truth is that nothing can be taken for granted

When I was young, or rather, younger, I remember seeing a magazine that all households would receive by post for free. It was called The Plain Truth and we were warned by parents that the contents were not quite right. It was not an erotic publication but a religious one.

We were given the impression that the magazine belonged to the Jehovah witnesses but I later found out that the editorial content was created for The Church of God.

Good Catholics were never expected to read stuff from other denominations.

From a very young age the idea was instilled in me that the title did not necessarily reflect the contents. In other words, what you see is not what you get or better still what you are told is not exactly the honest truth.

Which brings me to the latest news from the Nationalist Party. It was the week, that saw PN leader Bernard Grech declare that he was after all for the changes in the IVF law. It was a statement which cleared the air after the neither here nor there reply he gave on Xtra.

Then there was the expression of interest filed by Alex Perici Calascione for the deputy leader post. Perici Calascione is an individual who comes across as a nice guy, but someone who in the PN is known to be close to Karol Aquilina and Jason Azzopardi. There were no other nominations for the post. No new names, not even a bright star. Everyone it seems was too petrified to jump into the cauldron of a party that according to Grech has a debt of €32 million.

Grech continues to disappoint. I am not sure that Alex Perici Calascione was his candidate. If he was not, whose, was he?

The real duo that could have done the trick at an election, would have been Bernard Grech and Joe Giglio. But the latter does not seem to have the appetite for more controversy.

Giglio experienced a real taste of internal PN backlash when he said the plain truth about Maria Efimova on 103FM.

Giglio’s words immediatedly led to a vomiting competiton, leaving him bruised in the process.

PN insiders who do not depend on a salary from the party or Medialink, the media company, told me that Bernard Grech has missed the boat completely. Grech has not quite understood that success in politics is derived from the sense of loyalty to his supporters, the ruthlessness in taking decisions when needed and a vision.

His counterpart Robert Abela may not have the three virtues in place, but he is better placed.

On loyalty, Abela has made it his aim in this administration to award up and coming loyal supporters by putting them in important posts. In the process he is removing those with clear bonds to his predecessor.

On ruthlessness, Abela would not twitch and tell others that he wants new faces but goes ahead to make those decisions. I believe the most extraordinary decision was his Cabinet outcome in March of this year. He left Michael Farrugia out of Cabinet, even though Farrugia was one of a handful Muscat-era ministers to have supported him as a leadership candidate against Chris Fearne.

His decision I would imagine was based on the notion to get more new faces in Cabinet.

On vision, Abela has had to contend with major crises not of his doing that conditioned his leadership. But when it came to tough decisions, such as the calibration needed to accede to FATF demands and get Malta off the greylist, he took the plunge.

Yet, all political leaders, have their Achilles’ Heel. Abela is unwilling to spill the ‘Plain Truth’ about energy prices. About the millions and eventually a billion euro needed to stabilise energy prices. His reluctance to ask the public to share the burden is either a shrewd approach to keep anxiety at bay, or else is a sign of his inability to tackle the situation.

Like all other things time will tell.

Finally, there is another malaise in our political class. And that is the inadequacy in weighing the importance of a lobby. I am referring here to the front page of ILLUM published today on the stand taken by the First District Labour MPs on the outdoor music saga in Valletta.

It reveals two things. The first is that it is clear the Labour Party does not trust its individual parliamentarians to answer questions. Instead, the party has answered on their collective behalf. The MPs have become a mere number and nothing more.

The other observation is the decision stated in the Labour Party statement that its MPs agree with the extended time for outdoor music in the majority of bars and restaurants in the capital.

Apart from the issue that this extension goes against the whole concept of Valletta as an alternative night out, it betrays the fact that not some MPs elected on the Valletta district are against the music time extension.

And yet the party overrules them and stops them from speaking their mind.

That is not only very sad but dangerous! A cohesive political force is welcome, but castrating or neutering the elected officials is taking away their grey matter and dignity.

Which is why politicians have to learn to see the wider interest of society and communities and not only the narrow ones. The Plain Truth is that nothing can be taken for granted. With summer just starting, political fatigue will kick in and very little will tickle the public's attention.

That, I believe is a very temporary matter and only a question of time before everyone starts to realise that the world’s crazy problems are not going anywhere.