Saying it as it is: Part III

Those who are thinking that Forza Nazzjonali is here to stay should realise that the PN is getting ready for the night of the long knives

Marlene Farrugia is far from being fresh and what is atypical in her stance is that she shares the same distaste for Joseph Muscat as all those who have fallen foul of his politics, and his popularity
Marlene Farrugia is far from being fresh and what is atypical in her stance is that she shares the same distaste for Joseph Muscat as all those who have fallen foul of his politics, and his popularity

I think it is about time that someone says it as it is about Marlene Farrugia and all her talk of representing some amazing political tsunami that can change the face of Malta. Or as someone who can aspire to represent some new political movement.

Let us call a spade a spade. Marlene Farrugia is simply a noisy, run-of-the-mill politician, not insubstantial in frame, who got elected by sucking up Nationalist votes and shafting some old time PN politicians. She made it into the PN only because PN leader Simon Busuttil was desperate and needed to draw someone so he could refer to a national force, the Forza Nazzjonali, to counter Joseph Muscat’s movement. It was not much of a counter, as it turned out.

The person we are talking about was elected only because she stood on a PN ticket – without a link to a major party she would not have been elected. She may argue that she represents a new party, but even that has just been debunked by the courts in Malta. Her argument may be made but it is far fetched and simply wishful thinking.

She is far from being fresh and what is atypical in her stance is that she shares the same distaste for Joseph Muscat as all those who have fallen foul of his politics, and his popularity. 

Farrugia has ridden high on the morality ticket, objecting to the Muscat approach to good governance, but when her partner Godfrey Farrugia was health minister – she was at the time a Labour MP – she gave little attention to good governance.  

The ministry that Godfrey Farrugia had was run according to a text book of bad governance. And their bad governance was at the time made much of by the PN opposition, which forgot all about them when it came to embracing her into the coalition.

When Godfrey was removed as minister, the chemistry between her and Muscat soured and it could never be salvaged. She is not one who takes slights lightly.

Beyond that, she was taken up by Simon Busuttil because he believed, wrongly, that Labourites would flock to her. They did not, on the contrary many rallied against her and the support she found in the PN came from her siphoning off the votes of long-standing PN MPs.

Farrugia’s politics was no different to that of the traditional politicians. Free dental care, sponsorship of football teams, sponsorship of band clubs and even forking out sizeable amounts of money to village associations. The extent of her patronage was as old as it could get when it comes to the ancient nepotistic political style of winning people’s hearts and votes.

Marlene Farrugia sings the song of good governance in a very vulgar and earsplitting manner and in a rather more vocal manner than when she opposed a former PN administration when good governance was definitely an issue. But she is essentially ultra conservative, which is why I cannot understand why some people who are not, purport to support her.

In the divorce debate which this newspaper supported and campaigned for, she was one of the few MPs from the Labour opposition who opposed the measure with a vengeance.

At the time I had expressed my surprise that someone who had had her fair share of matrimonial discord could campaign against it.

Obviously I could not help mentioning that she was privileged for being very well off and could not really synch to the concerns of the less privileged. 

But it was not only this, she has declared objection to the morning-after pill, and questions issues related to certain IVF procedures. In the Labour party she and Godfrey were those who opposed these measures incessantly.

On another level she has come to uphold the tradition of fireworks and has mixed feelings about hunting.

I always believed that her concern for the environment was phony and not deep rooted, because of her involvement in real estate – her big money spinner.

Her communications are best described as Mintoffian in style: unrefined and loud.  And they have become worse with age.

And yet, she is considered by a very small minority as some kind of star in the political spectrum. To me she is like Beppe Grillo, the comedian turned anti-establishment in the Italian political system. Grillo as we have all found out is a populist who likes Ferraris, hates migrants and shouts a lot. A little bit of everything, someone who will come and go.  

Then why do some people think she could be some saviour.

It is I guess, because they are blind or naïve, believing that this is the worst time the country has ever experienced and in times of crisis, one needs to get together, forget all the frills and trills and defeat the enemy with all the ammo in hand. Unfortunately for them, the enemy is riding high in popularity, and has quite some successes to shout about.

This war sentiment was echoed wildly by Simon Busuttil, and he thought he hit a chord with the electorate. He said repeatedly that he knew he would win because he was meeting so many people who applauded his enthusiasm. Little did he know that he was talking to the converted, who could not quite take in the fact that Labour were in government. Who believe that Labour is evil and dark and very, very corrupt and bad.

Little did he know that he was losing others who could not quite grasp his unconstructive style. 

He also painted everything black and white when things are mostly grey or shades of white and black. And things could only get worse when Beppe Fenech Adami, not exactly God’s gift to virginity, expressed that this was the most corrupt government in the history of Malta.

The cherry on the cake was not Mario de Marco, who would simply waffle through and repeat the lines he had. More sadly, the content of Simon’s daily political hit list was a copy and paste from the Independent columnist’s hourly blog, well known for its vitriol and phlegm.

Once again, no one, not even the yes men that hovered around Busuttil, could comprehend the fact that association with Caruana Galizia and this one-issue campaign would backfire. Not even those that stood on the podium at the PN meetings with Simon smiling in the background could understand that the unconverted listening to them could not get the blogger out of their minds. No matter how much they shouted and changed their facial expressions.

More and more so, after the Egrant/Pilatus fairy tale that fitted in greatly with the Panama narrative. That was an episode that will surely land the whistleblower in the same maelstrom of those who concocted stories, as was the case with Lou Bondi’s side kick Joe Zahra in 2004.

Busuttil and Caruana Galizia managed to condition many people, including some members of the judiciary, who seem to be getting nowhere close in publishing their findings.

The sad thing is that all the king’s men seem to be in this great denial drama.  

They simply cannot accept that the election was lost because it could not be won the way they went about fighting it, and for being so pig headed.

They cannot quite accept that Caruana Galizia, for the second election running, ensured that thousands would never cast a vote for the Nationalist party. Even if all the cabinet ministers had had a panama account.

Because many of those who echoed the sentiment of disdain and hate on facebook could never feel what those hundreds of people felt when they were derided by that one single blogger.

Many knew this argument, perhaps the best placed to understand this was Mario de Marco who was taken to the cleaners, but he did not even have the self-respect to stand up and turn round to Busuttil and tell him enough is enough.

The same argument applied to all those who suddenly found themselves treated like cretins by Simon Busuttil. I know many who met Busuttil and told me that they had rather not met the man at all.

“He puts you off, he has no charisma. And he makes you feel like a thief.”

Others would ask for a meeting only to be told that the meeting had been postponed.

Others would talk of a man who would visit a band club or club and then run off, not even attempting to have a ‘shandy’ with the enthusiastic crowd.

And yet there were those around Busuttil who would not admit that he simply did not have it.

And so life went on, and many people in the party started to discover things as they went along. 

I was told for example that Simon Busuttil’s declaration that the White Rocks complex should be shelved and turned into a nature reserve was taken unilaterally. So was his decision to embrace the reckless Salvu Mallia and the folly of Marlene Farrugia.

And yet we can all see that this did not yield any dividends.

Those who are thinking that Forza Nazzjonali is here to stay should realise that the PN is getting ready for the night of the long knives. And if they do not apply some drastic surgery the PN will be no more. Forza Nazzjonali is no more, because the heart and soul of the movement is in need of a new leader and a new charter.  

This is all about survival, and in survival the last thing on one’s mind are empty slogans and illusory affiliations.