Fatigue, just pure fatigue

I'm sure that the intellect of Delia's strategy group at the moment is questionable to most of us. Positioning Delia as the arch-conservative against Muscat is not exactly the brightest idea 

It is rather evident that out there, right beyond the posse of news junkies, most people are sick and tired of reading about politics. “Not that subject again,” I get told over and over again.

Everyone is declaring that they are bored with the news. Does anyone really blame them? Beyond the political controversies most people want to get on with their lives. And since, as things stand, most people are doing so well, they do not have the time to worry.

People are slowly detaching themselves from the political discourse and it is becoming clearer to me that repetitive arguments in the media are being lost in translation. Even serious revelations are being met with limited apprehension: as summer creeps in and World Cup madness gets ready to grip the world, it would seem few have the patience for the kind of political slog.

So are the Maltese truly lethargic or lacking civic interest? Let’s not just bandy about the accusation, but ask why this is all happening. Could it be that somewhere along the line people have decided they do not feel compelled to worry about certain matters because their minds have been made up and they weighed the pros and cons? Islanders, after all, are very good at switching off.

The other day the Italian Federation of Journalists reminded the public that 19 Italian journalists had round-the-clock security and personal bodyguards. Another 167 police or security measures were taken for media houses. And, lest we forget, a good deal of Italy’s media workers always run the risk of being tapped by the security services. All this in 2017.

Comparisons are odious of course. When someone speaks of a media that is not free and Malta being a ‘mafia state’, I wonder whether we are just being given the wrong end of the stick. Foreign journalists who ask us about the rule of law in Malta or “lack of democracy” have surmised about the reputational risk this could have for investment.

Sure: if this were the Balkans, Ukraine, Afghanistan or the Occupied Territories in Palestine or Syria I could understand it.

But hand on heart, investors could not give a toss whether the press is free or not – they come here for the tax benefits and the legislative framework. If we really want to be truthful there is no sign of this downward trend – the contrary is quite true.

Thanks to today’s front-page story on a UK legal threat over MaltaToday’s investigation into Azeri-connected companies set up by the firm of former Nationalist minister Michael Frendo, perhaps things can be put in perspective. Looks like business is indeed booming.

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Politicians like Adrian Delia are being given the wrong advice if he thinks the battle-cry for the Nationalist party should be one that targets the number of foreigners in Malta. Last Tuesday he said at a 1 May event for invited guests that 20% of births were hailing from mothers that were not Maltese. “We have to understand how this will impact our identity, how we think, what we do,” Delia told his audience that had just heard how extraordinary economic growth created a demand for jobs that could not be met solely by the Maltese labour market.

He said that over the past few years the number of foreign workers had increased exponentially and now amount to more than the number of workers employed in the public sector. He called for long-term planning, and he said that this should not only be about the economy. “Any plan has to take into account whether we want to change into something else, transform and lose our identity,” he said.

At the current trends, until the next election the private sector workforce will be split down the middle between Maltese and foreign workers, he argued. “We have to start questioning what this means.”

Diametrically opposite to what Joseph Muscat stated later in the day during the PL mass meeting, Delia sounded like some Lega Nord stooge (coupled with his stand on IVF it is abundantly clear that he believes or is led to believe that if he takes on a conservative stance this will lead to more votes).

Apart from the fact that Delia always seems to have a few far-right nuggets to feed the soundbite machine, it has to be said that those who think they are giving him sound advice should start realising that just because polls show migration is a concern does not mean it is a deciding factor in an election.

I’m sure that the intellect of Delia’s strategy group at the moment is questionable to most of us. Positioning Delia as the arch-conservative against Muscat is not exactly the brightest idea.

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The other day I sat down with environment minister Josè Herrera. I see him being down to earth and very passionate about the environment, and a politician who wants to do much more. It is not an easy task for him in the circumstances.

Yet some things have started to shape up under Herrera, one of these having been the Public Domain Act (a continuation of the previous administration’s work brought to fruition) and more recently the Bulebel and Fuel Stations Policy review, which were initiatives that showed he succeeded to influence his Cabinet colleagues. One hopes that this really says a lot about the role he could play in marshalling the serious environmental concerns about this government’s growth model.

Now Herrera has launched the Beverage Container Refund Scheme which addresses the 200 million containers in circulation which are mostly dumped in our streets, countryside and seas. It may seem a small initiative but it will go a long way in solving a very serious waste problem in Malta.

There have been other initiatives such as the 3,000 trees planted on Comino and new legislations for the protection of trees. They might seem small steps, but they are starting to make a difference. There is so much to do and Herrera seems willing to take it further.

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