The year of silly gimmicks

2018 might well be described as the year of silly gimmicks but it can hardly be perceived as the year of the beginning of the end of Joseph Muscat’s hold on the country

What goes up must go down. And all things must end. Eventually Joseph Muscat’s ‘movement’ will run its course and fizzle out
What goes up must go down. And all things must end. Eventually Joseph Muscat’s ‘movement’ will run its course and fizzle out

Compare the news that last Wednesday ‘L-Istrina’ fund raising event in aid of the Community Chest Fund managed to collect over €7 million with the report that yet another international news broadcast, this time the CBS programme ‘60 Minutes’, put Malta in the worst light possible.

Is Malta a country where everybody is a kind-hearted citizen satisfied with government’s performance in general… with the buoyant economic situation resulting in exceptional eagerness to help those in the community that are needy and facing troubled times? Or is it a country where everybody and their cousins are a bunch of crooks?

Take your pick.

At the same time, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat enjoys the trust of the majority of Maltese citizens, even though in the latest poll undertaken by this paper the Prime Minister’s trust rating stood at 51.3% - a drop of three points on the November survey that saw Muscat hit his highest ever result at 54.5%. But the November result came on the back of yet another popular budget - a feel-good factor that evaporates over a short time.

Even more telling was the news that according to the latest Eurobarometer survey, the percentage of those who trust the government in Malta went up a whopping 12 points since spring to reach 63 per cent, the highest among EU states, along with the Netherlands, according to a survey.

The number of those who ‘tend not to trust’ the government went down since spring, also by 12 percentage points, with the ‘do not knows’ staying at the same 12 per cent level.

Compare this with another result of the same Eurobarometer survey: Maltese political parties still fared quite badly in spite of improvements, with only 36 per cent saying they trusted them and 54 per cent saying they tended not to trust them. It is obvious that the people’s trust in individual politicians is higher that that in political parties as such.

What is more obvious is the fact that those who have opted for the line of reasoning that Malta is a nefarious evil country where the Maltese should be ashamed of their government, have not made any noticeable impact on public opinion that can trouble the Labour Party as led by Muscat.

In short, basing any political strategy aimed at damaging Joseph Muscat on cries of shock at corruption that resonate on CBS more than they can ever resonate in Malta will not give the desired results.

Simon Busuttil tried it and failed miserably. The innumerable NGOs with fancy names from Occupy Justice to Repubblika, or the anonymous Kenniesa, are making no inroads in public opinion. Getting the help of foreign media outlets to emphasise their point of view, as is it were that of an unbiased foreign source, has no effect on the Maltese public that, on the whole, is more shrewd than some people think.

Taking on both the Labour Party and the Adrian Delia-led PN at the same time can only be a presumptuous undertaking made by people who think they know everything but who continually miss the way Maltese public opinion arrives at its perceptions. They are at a loss because they do not know how to figure out the Maltese psyche as Eddie Fenech Adami used to do so well. And that Joseph Muscat knows how to do as well.

The majority of Maltese citizens are no bunch of idiots that one can lead by the nose. There are hardcore Labour Party supporters whose way of thinking leads them to be considered in this category… but the majority supporting Muscat cannot consist of them alone. Muscat has managed to eat up a substantial percentage of the middle class that used to shun Labour and getting them back is a long process.

What goes up must go down. And all things must end. Eventually Joseph Muscat’s ‘movement’ will run its course and fizzle out.

But this end will not be provoked by people making silly gimmicks or persuading foreign media to play the music of their choice. 2018 might well be described as the year of silly gimmicks but it can hardly be perceived as the year of the beginning of the end of Joseph Muscat’s hold on the country.

May the manipulator

As The Economist put it: “If anyone deserves a prize for stamina it is Theresa May. The prime minister spent the run-up to Christmas defending her Brexit deal before MPs, who still show no sign for voting for it. She hoped the EU summit on December 13th and 14th would agree to sweeten the deal to make it easier for MPs to swallow, particularly regarding the Irish ‘backstop’ that may keep Britain in a customs union.”

My opinion of British Prime Minister Theresa May has changed drastically during the last few months. Her resilience is impressive. She shines among her dull failed elite Tory colleagues who surround her to support her or to backstab her.

Irrespective of the fact that most probably the UK will be worse off with Brexit, even with May’s version of it, she has proved to be a shrewd and cold-bloodied calculator and manipulator.

Forget about the negative effects of not keeping her promises and of her continually shifting positions. I think the way she is tackling the vote on her Brexit is brilliant from a strategic point of view.

Her threat of the possibility of a no-deal Brexit has put a lot of pressure on her dissenting MPs.

I do not know whether the House of Commons in London will approve her deal, but I am sure that those in favour of her deal in the vote to be taken in January will be more than they would have been if she did not postpone the vote that was to be taken in December.

Her diplomatic sleights, duplicity, treachery and infidelity regarding perceived promises and alliances - all made in the pursuit of self-interest - indicate that she is a true daughter of perfidious Albion.

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