The George Vella touch

So Vella's gamble has led Abela to retreat • The Prime Minister has claimed that the new abortion bill is a victory • We all know that it is not


George Vella’s opposition to a tame abortion law was known to everyone. At least to those in the business of following politics.

Vella has consistently always opposed progressive reforms that impinge on his Roman Catholic beliefs. Vella is also a non-nonsense former politician.

But there is a context that cannot be ignored; there is no love lost between Vella and the Robert Abela family.

The chemistry between George Vella and George Abe- la (Robert’s father) is far from healthy. Vella has of course never forgotten the history with George Abela in his decision to part with the Alfred Sant administration back in 1998.

Then both Vella and Abela (senior) were deputy leaders in the Labour Party in its 22-month stint in power.

The pro-life movement thinks that it has changed the decision-making process in government on the abortion Bill. The truth is that Abela could not afford to have a Labour president resign.

So Vella’s gamble has led Abela to retreat. The Prime Minister has claimed that the new abortion bill is a victory. We all know that it is not.

Vella has used his immense influence to thwart proper reform.

He will probably go down as the president who blocked abortion reform. There is really nothing else to talk about when it comes to George Vella.

Now, George Vella is not one to seek attention, but he has a reputation for being unwavering in his opinions. And the fact that he owes no favours to the Abela family makes his position ever more rigid.

Vella of course could have used his position of power on other issues. He chose not to, for they did not create an apparent conflict with his beliefs. He has chosen to do so within his powers, but unlike political leaders who are elected he is a symbolic person who does not get elected but is chosen by the party who wins the general election.

There are those who may argue that Abela has no mandate to introduce measures that could allow for a soft approach to regulated abortion.

But then political leaders elected to govern should also be delegated to make reforms based on the ‘context’. The context being that society has changed and so has our outlook.

George Vella may be the old wise man, that stands on the symbolic throne pointing us all to celestial wisdom. But in this case, he appears as an obstinate, old man who refuses change because of his religious beliefs.

Some political leaders, who have been elected to their post such as Roberta Metsola, were willing to cast their personal beliefs on abortion aside and represent the institution they represent.

Whatever I could think of Metsola, in this regard she chose the institution before her beliefs.

It is ironic to see this happen considering that in a national survey that George Vella directly commissioned, the trends in Maltese society were abundantly clear.

A society yearning for change and detaching itself from the past.

It seems that the gathering of ageing attendees at his State of the Nation talking shop did little to open his mind to the transformation in values, women’s issues and future generations.

Robert Abela showed courage in pushing this reform but weakness in the face of obstinacy from a man who should have just resigned and not threatened to resign if he would be asked to sign the law.

Reforms are never made in calm seas with Beaufort 2 winds; they usually happen in severe storms and atrocious weather conditions.

With an unprecedented majority in parliament and the highest recorded majority in any national election, Abela should have put his foot down as he has done in so many other instances which I am sure the conservative, narrow-minded President has chosen to ignore or only mention in some little-noted speeches uttered in some public event.

Comino’s future

The future of Comino is not up for discussion. But if the Abela administration has any sense it would show its environmental credentials by taking resolute action.

First and foremost, to strongly object to the Hili Comino project and secondly to do something real about the deckchairs and umbrellas that occupy the coastline every summer.

The public is really looking out for a sign. That sign has to be real and substantial.

For those who intend to make Malta their home in summer and winter for the rest of their life, the plight of this country means something.

To continue ignoring this fact and instead award a big mega businessman and a small deckchair operator cum canvasser for a Gozitan minister, is obscene and simply unacceptable. The time is finally here for some decisive action, not sweet words or tokenism.

Titan reportage

I guess the best description of the manic media reportage of the Titan implosion above the Titanic wreck is to be found in the New York Times report with the title: 5 deaths at sea gripped the World. Hundreds of others got a shrug.

Which, I guess, uncovers our incestuous desire to read about the rich and famous and forget about the poor and forgotten.