The writing is on the bloody wall

The Labour Party needs to accept the fact that it could lose the next election because of its wrong attitude and arrogance

Then there were the mortal sins such as the one committed at Siggiewi, where residents were allocated apartments in unfinished government housing
Then there were the mortal sins such as the one committed at Siggiewi, where residents were allocated apartments in unfinished government housing

TODAY’S edition of MaltaToday carries a story regarding the procrastination to reform planning laws on development in ODZ areas. It has been over four years since the public was asked to give its feedback on this particular policy.

It is a policy that has contributed to the marring of our countryside. It is a policy that has invited anyone who owns a patch of countryside with some rubble in it to construct spacious and splendid villas/farmhouses under false pretences.

The procrastination is not coincidental. It is meant to allow more permits to be issued and more people to benefit from a planning law that is simply wrong. In the last three years, we have heard many hand-on-heart statements about the environment; they have all been superficial.

The feeling in government is to bend over backwards to the construction industry.

The other day as I passed through St George’s Bay, apart from the smell of fast food and diesel, I could notice the odour of sewage. I can just imagine when all the projects in the area will be finalised what the impact on the bay will be. What an infrastructural nightmare it will turn out to be. But the St George’s narrative is repeated in different localities in Malta and Gozo, where planning is taking place at such a fast pace that no one is keeping up with the traffic, sewage systems, and construction pressure. We simply have not accepted that we have limits and saturation points. People in construction complain about endless red tape, but in truth, they have everything they wish for. The concerns of others are really irrelevant. And we feel it.

But back to the real concern just right now. Surely, the environment is just one of many reasons people decided to jump ship and leave the Labour Party. The more important consideration is that there are too many flaws with Labour.

To start with, the Prime Minister’s decision to embrace Joseph Muscat worked wonders with those who were not too sure whether to vote for the PN or independents.

Abela’s decision to defend Muscat and offer him and his propagandist Manuel Cuschieri a platform was fundamental for all those who were waiting for a reason to abandon Labour because of allegations of impropriety. Muscat is bad news and Abela should have known this from day one.

Then there were the mortal sins such as the one committed at Siggiewi, where residents were allocated apartments in unfinished government housing and had their ID cards changed by Identita Malta before the Siggiewi local council election. And all this happened in a council Labour won in 2019 by a few dozen votes.

The plot uncovered by the Nationalist Party and the subsequent investigations carried out by MaltaToday were described by Minister Roderick Galdes as “spin”. His position was defended tooth and nail by the Labour Party.

The other consideration, that Abela should have noted was the way the party, his party was being run by people who not only considered it a second job but a boring and unnecessary one. Daniel Micallef the deputy leader who did fuck all should have been asked to resign and say nothing. Instead he wrote a missal after the EU election result informing us that he had planned to resign after the election anyhow.

His missal should have read: “After I discovered that I was making loads of money from projects as an insensitive architect in some very sensitive areas, I discovered that wasting my time at Party HQ was not worth it at all. So, I decided to do what is best and use the excuse of my family to justify my departure. PS: After I made so many useful contacts!”

The same applied to Randolph de Battista, chief executive of the Labour Party, conspicuous for his very harsh words for his own party but not for his hard work at the party. De Battista also wrote a message saying that he would stay on and wanted to cut all the crap that was being bandied around about him. Again, his message should have read: “Hi all, I really do not like my work at the party, but I cannot just leave I need the CEO’s wage because I cannot really make ends meet with my MP salary.”

Apart from Daniel and Randolph, it was clear that the feeling at Mile End is the one best described by a party insider as – abandon ship best spoken in that heavy Hamrun diction UPBANDDIN SHIP. Here again Abela needs to spend some serious time seeing how to get his house in order.

But the biggest issue that Abela has to tackle is the climate he has created which is sending out the message that we need to be clearer about our decisions and our motive and our implementation. For example, on resignations. Well, some CEOs get kicked out, others not, and even in the case of Edward Scicluna (whatever I think about him), I cannot understand why the PM has not called him in and asked him to resign.

How in the seven heavens can a Central Bank governor hang on to his post when facing criminal charges. I guess what is good for Joe Bloggs also applies to Scicluna. Again, I have the feeling that the trappings of power and money mean everything to some people.

What I am trying to say here, is that many senior Labour politicians are unsure most of the time what Castille really wants. There is also a sense of discomfort in the way decisions are taken or not taken. Let me give another example.

The Prime Minister is faced with an environmental fall out over a proposed tarmac plant in Mqabba. He responds to the community on the eve of a local council election and declares that the plant will not go ahead even though it is covered by all local plan policies. Hurrah, great news. But hey stop. Why this application and not others; and why and when can a Prime Minister declare when an application can go ahead and another one, not? People can see through these things.

That is one side to the story. People are not numbskulls, so when they received cheques days before an election, they were generally offended not elated and in typical Maltese fashion ran to the bank to cash them. The guy who cooked up this idea of sending cheques was obviously on Planet X.

The PM is also being badly advised when he says one thing and does another. The Jean Paul Sofia case was one such blunder; the decision to lash out at the nebulous and not very palpable ‘establishment’ and the U-turn on Rosianne Cutajar are other examples.

But the list goes on. Was he advised at all? More significantly the whole approach towards Roberta Metsola and her presence in Maltese politics and the decision to attack her as if she were the devil incarnate was wrong. To allow the chipmunks, who represented Labour, confront her as if she was an easy target was downright stupid. Metsola is a star candidate and if there is going to be any criticism it has to be articulated by the most elegant and charismatic spokesperson.

Recalling how Daniel Attard and Clint Azzopardi Flores attacked Metsola makes me wonder if they ever appreciated that she was far bigger than she really is. Azzopardi Flores in particular was Labour’s most controversial figure, at times when he talked you had the impression that Vladimir Putin was whispering into his ear. And this apart from his reckless and ludicrous remarks that the war in Ukraine and Gaza were kick-started by the EU!

Beyond all the considerations for a bloody bad showing, the final message should be short and sweet. The Labour party needs to accept the fact that it could lose the next election because of its wrong attitude and arrogance.

The PL needs to have a good team around the Prime Minister that will advise him and steer him out of his troubles. The Labour Party needs to have a clear vision with visible deliverables. Robert Abela has to take some tough decisions and see them through and not change course half-way through their implementation.

Failing this, I might be writing about another prime minister in three years’ time... if I am still around!