No, Jason. There is nothing ‘mad’ about voting for a free boob-job…

But the best part of all is that – judging by his own reaction – Jason Azzopardi still doesn’t understand that this is precisely WHY both he, and his party, lost the last election so calamitously

In all my years of writing this column, never – not in my wildest dreams – did I imagine I would one day end up comparing Sir Winston Churchill to (of all people) Jason Azzopardi.

But then again, there were a lot of other things I never imagined I’d end up doing… like, for instance, writing articles about ‘free boob-jobs’. (Honestly, though: who would ever have seen those two coming, huh?)

Besides: Jason Azzopardi made it more or less impossible for me to pass up this challenge… having practically made the comparison himself, in a Facebook update this week. And I’m glad he did, too, because – believe it or not – it turns out that those two politicians DO have a couple of things in common, after all. (I’ll give you a hint from now: ‘Winning the War’ isn’t one of them…)

But back to Jason Azzopardi’s post. It’s a little too long to reproduce in full; so I’ll limit myself to this Lovin’ Malta press summary:

“Former PN MP Jason Azzopardi has recounted a particularly unusual house visit he went on last February, which he said left him questioning the essence of democracy.

“Azzopardi said he knocked on the door of a social housing unit and was greeted by a large family, all of whom spoke politics with him and told him they would vote PN: except for the girlfriend of one of the sons. ‘She stayed quiet, smoking a cigarette, and [the rest of the family] told me she was from another district,’ he said. ‘However, as I was leaving, she spoke out and her words hit me like a cold shower.’”

“According to Azzopardi, the woman told him: ‘Listen up, you. I’m not giving my vote to either the PN or the PL.’ [Jason] asked her whether she was joking or whether she was voting ADPD. She replied that she was not joking, and that she would give her first-preference vote to [Żaren] Tal-Ajkla because he was going to give her money to expand her breasts.”

It was at this point that Winston Churchill was – presumably, to his own great surprise – dragged into the picture. Azzopardi ends his anecdote with the line: “I left the home reflecting on what Churchill had famously said about democracy…”

Now: interestingly enough, Jason didn’t specify which particular Churchill quote he had in mind (of the several hundred – real, or attributed – that would have fit that situation rather neatly.)

The Lovin’ Malta article suggests it might have been his most famous aphorism about democracy: i.e., that “[it] is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried, from time to time”. And who knows? That may well be correct.

I, however, suspect that Jason Azzopardi may have reflected upon another, lesser-known Churchill quote. Namely, that: “the best argument against democracy, is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Either way, however: let’s pause for a moment, to consider what those two quotes – the latter being most likely apocryphal, by the way – tell us about how Winston Churchill actually regarded democracy, himself.

In the first, Churchill grudgingly (and humorously) admits to the virtues of democracy… by comparing it to ‘all the other forms of government that have been tried’. And yes: on that scale, democracy certainly emerges as ‘preferable’ (given that the alternative is invariably going to be ‘tyranny’: in one ideological manifestation, or another).

As such, Churchill was clearly – albeit sardonically – praising democracy with that remark; even if, at the end of the day, it remains very much a ‘lesser evil’ argument.

The second quote, however, is a little more problematic. For starters, there is no evidence that Churchill ever really uttered those exact words (but he did express similar sentiments on other occasions: so I’ll ignore that objection, for now); but also, because it comes from a political leader whom history has – rightly, or wrongly – lionised for having ‘won Word War II’ (thereby ‘saving democracy from the clutches of tyranny’, and all that.)

It seems, then, that the man who ‘saved democracy’ was somewhat disdainful of that same political model, himself. And while I cannot pin the remark down to any specific date in history (for the simple reason that it cannot even be verified), I think it’s safe to deduce that, if he ever said those words at all… it would most likely have been soon after the 1945 election: which Churchill lost by a landslide to Clement Atlee’s Labour Party, despite having only just ‘won the war’.

More specifically: it was also the first democratic election that Churchill actually contested (having been appointed Prime Minister, at the head of a War Cabinet, in 1940). And OK: he did go on to win one election, in 1951… but still. It is hard not to imagine that the catastrophic 1945 defeat would have nettled a political figure of the calibre of Winston Churchill (so soon after having been hailed as the hero of ‘Britain’s finest hour’, too…)

Right, let me guess. You’re beginning to see the comparison for yourselves, aren’t you?  For while Jason Azzopardi might not be credited with ‘saving democracy’ – except, perhaps, in his own imagination – he certainly does project himself as some kind of ‘Messianic Crusader’: tirelessly championing all the values of democracy, as though they depended on his own election to Parliament for their very survival.

… yet there the same Jason Azzopardi suddenly is: subconsciously revealing an astonishing degree of contempt, towards the same political model he is officially trying to ‘save’.

Leaving aside that his entire reaction was itself rooted in a singularly anti-democratic belief: i.e., that ‘voting for third parties’ – not just Zaren Tal-Ajkla, mind you: but also ADPD – is an indication that: ‘Erm… you must be joking, right…?’

No, Azzopardi even spelt it out to us, with the words: “Kont diġa bdejt nara siegħa homevisit tiswa’ suf…” [Loose translation: ‘Already I felt that an hour’s worth of home-visits had been worthless’].

Once again: what does that reveal about how Jason Azzopardi really regards the democratic process? Why, the same as Winston Churchill, as it happens: I.e., that democracy is indeed every inch worth fighting (and even dying) for… but only as long as it actually gets you elected to power.

The moment it ceases to do that – in Churchill’s case, by losing against Labour in 1945; in Azzopardi’s, by failing to even get elected in 2022 – well, that’s it, really. Suddenly, the entire system of ‘proportional representation through free-and-fair democratic elections’ becomes, in a nutshell… WORTHLESS.

But guess what? We haven’t even got to the part about ‘free boob-jobs’ yet. (And you didn’t seriously think I’d forget about the ‘free boob-jobs’ part, did you now?)

So let’s go back, for a moment, to what that woman actually told Jason Azzopardi, to his face, last February (and boy, oh boy: what I would have given to be a fly-on-the-wall, at that precise moment…)

“‘Listen up, you.” [And how’s THAT for an attention-grabbing opener?]  “I’m not giving my vote to either the PN or the PL. […]  No, I’m giving my vote to Zaren Ta’ L-Ajkla: because he promised to give me money [€4,000, to be precise] for a boob-job…”

Now: from this point on, there are only two ways we can realistically approach this. Either that woman was ‘trolling’ Jason Azzopardi (in which case, what can I say? She must have a PhD in ‘Advanced Trolling’, from the Trolling University of Troll Kingdom, Ana-Troll-ia…)

Or else, we can share Jason Azzopardi’s own assessment that… no, actually. She really WAS one of the 376 voters who gave their first preference to Nazzareno Bonnici, in the last election. And yes: she was also swayed by his (entirely farcical) offer of a ‘free boob-job’…

But the beautiful part is that: it doesn’t really matter which interpretation we choose. Whether she was joking, or dead-serious, the underlying implications remain exactly the same: ‘Żaren Tal-Ajkla is offering me a free boob-job, worth €4,000. What the heck are YOU offering, that can possibly top that?’

And guess what? She’s quite right, you know. Because while the concept of ‘being swayed by a free boob-job’ may seem entirely ludicrous, to many… it still remains a free boob-job MORE, than either of Malta’s two mainstream political parties are actually offering the electorate, right now.

And besides: while a boob-job is hardly going to entice a voter like myself (I happen to think my own boobs are entirely reasonably-sized, all things considered)… well, to some women out there, it might actually make a genuine, meaningful difference in their own lives.

It might ‘boost their self-esteem’, for instance.  It might make them feel ‘sexier’, or ‘more attractive’… or even (paradoxical though it may sound) more ‘empowered’.

Which brings us right back to that woman’s question. What WAS Jason Azzopardi offering in the last elections, anyway, that could possibly hit all those same boobs (I mean, buttons)? ‘Good governance’? ‘The rule of law’? ‘Social justice’? ‘Transparency’, ‘accountability’… and a host of other intangible, abstract concepts, that would appear literally ‘worthless’ (‘tiswa suf’, remember?) to someone who actually just wants to enlarge the cup-size of her bra… but doesn’t have the €4,000 to pay for a boob-job?

But the best part of all is that – judging by his own reaction – Jason Azzopardi still doesn’t understand that this is precisely WHY both he, and his party, lost the last election so calamitously.

Yet even Żaren Tal-Ajkla understands it only too well. If you want those voters to actually vote for you: you do have to at least offer them something that is meaningful… TO THEM.

(Get it now, Jason? ‘TO THEM’: not just ‘TO YOU’…)