Crooks everywhere, same as it ever was

There is no space for ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ – they are all trading in influence and this is corrupt … and we need to get to the bottom of this

I guess those last words will resonate forever. Minutes later Daphne was dead.

The truth is that when she said “there are crooks everywhere you look now”, she may have been her usual self, gratuitously apportioning blame to one party, although this one time she had already broken ranks with the PN’s leadership of Adrian Delia.

But she knew the truth. Like me she understood the networks of power and finance at work. She had worked around those networks. She had seen the crooks everywhere, during our time but also before: crooks who set the agenda because they had the finance and cash to dish out.

But there was one thing that many of her diehard followers, who will eventually flock behind Adrian Delia, conveniently choose to forget. And that is the fact that her last turf battle was with Adrian Delia, the leader of the political party that had been her home since 1993 when she abandoned Alternattiva and attached herself to the cosiness of the PN administration. As time passes, many people will forget this.

The MEPs who come and go, the foreign journalists and their superficial understanding of Malta and its people and politics, and the emotional followers of the yellow press and gossip blogs, will forget that when Daphne Caruana Galizia attacked and in turn was attacked by Adrian Delia, she was saying that he too was a crook.

During those last four months, MaltaToday’s and her reports converged in more than one way – the difference being always a question of style and treatment and verification of the facts. But short of saying that Delia was a corrupt politician, she made it clear that Delia was trying to emulate Joseph Muscat.

On most of the points she raised in those last blogs, I was in agreement but found it hard to believe that we were agreeing. From what I have seen and heard, I am sure that her description of Adrian Delia in her blog was correct. Over the last weeks, Delia has been meeting the big boys. He has been welcoming them with open arms, egged on by his political fixer, Pierre Portelli, the man who has always championed a new way of doing politics… by embracing the old way.

Most of the money they raise comes from big business in the form of cash in well-folded brown envelopes

There is nothing wrong in meeting big business. But it still worries me. I would, or should never expect a party not to be pro-business but the only reason these big business guys meet with Delia is to win his silence when it comes to their multi-million projects. Hence the incredible convergence in the voting pattern of both the PN and Labour representatives on the Planning Authority.

Not all businessmen want to meet Adrian Delia, for they know that before his job as a lawyer, Delia was a businessman and many did not like his style of doing business.

But at present it is obvious that the Labour and Nationalist parties cannot live on the donations of their ‘give-us-€10-over-the-phone’ telethons. Those are gimmicks that hide the origin of all the cash they raise. Most of the money they raise comes from big business in the form of cash in well-folded brown envelopes.

And this is the problem.

No matter what has been said about the introduction of the party-financing law, we all know that this is hogwash.

Individuals such as Pierre Portelli and Adrian Delia need a steady income and their usual annual starting salaries never drop below €75,000, and that is being conservative.

We are talking here of a party that may serve its function of being a watchdog over the government but, to be very frank, nothing much else. There isn’t a vision – just a yearning  to walk up to Castille and rule the country.

I could just imagine it, if it happened: Delia walking up with Sandro Chetcuti, and his pal Michael Stivala, smiling happily as he did when Muscat walked up the Castille stairs in 2013. A new phenomenon? No. It did not suddenly change in March 2013. The idea that everyone, for example, can partake in the orgy to rape the Maltese countryside, has been the mark of every administration.

The big question is whether Adrian Delia has any political vision. When I interviewed him last summer he talked of a future for our children. But he is as pro-development as Muscat, and a keen high-rise supporter who can drink and charm big business in a bigger way than Muscat. He has no major ideological differences with Muscat and the only reason he cannot be as liberal or forthcoming is because he is surrounded by a fragmented party.

But unlike Muscat, who had to fight allegations of impropriety with his lieutenant since he took power, Delia has his own skeletons in his cupboard and ghosts from his past which will come to haunt him in the future.

From today’s MaltaToday survey, it is clear that Delia has an uphill struggle that seems a mission impossible.

The only chance he has of winning is if Muscat decides to throw in the towel. Muscat has stupidly indicated (soon after the June election) that he would do so. Twice. That’s a decision which will end in a bloodbath in the Labour party when the rivalry comes forth, and render Muscat’s successes redundant.

There are crooks everywhere we were told, but there have always been crooks from day one and the truth is that there are all kinds of crooks: blue and red, green and possibly even orange, if there are any left.

Everyone I guess can be a crook, from the publicists who get paid to say fat lies to those who pay handsomely for politicians to look the other way and say nothing.

The MEPs who came to Malta and poured boundless tonnes of cow dung on us seem to have forgotten that the world is a very small and similar place. The countries that hit out at little Malta have their fair share of transparency issues, citizenship programmes, tax loopholes, and mafia networks.

Again the need for hard-nosed probing journalism has never been greater than today. The need to uncover the link between speculators and politicians has never been greater. There is no space for ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ – they are all trading in influence and this is corrupt … and we need to get to the bottom of this.

However, if journalists are to succeed in their task, we need to create a financial base that will make us free from the pressures of big business and government.

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