Grounded in truth

Beyond the theatrics of Magistrate Joe Mifsud, the judiciary has also acted correctly and without fear or favour – often to the detriment of the Labour government

The other day PN leader Adrian Delia said, without any room for any interpretation: “Democracy is under threat not through violence but control from the [PL] headquarters; not through police beatings but through the usurpation of the judiciary and the buying of votes with favours.”

People say things, and then wake up in the morning and simply say, “Oh well.” Because Delia’s statement is similar to what Casa and Metsola have been saying in the last three to four years in Brussels – that Malta is no different to Venezuela and that Muscat could well be Maduro, a dictator.

Comparisons can be odious. Some of the things they have been saying are indeed grounded in truth. But a very big chunk of their rhetoric is simply exaggerated and rooted in prejudice. More so when they know, and I am referring here to Metsola and Casa specifically, that not too long ago the Nationalist administration they represented was not so different from the PL, and that it had one big chip on its shoulder, treating anyone who does not offer support to its leader, as pariahs.

Beyond the theatrics of Magistrate Joe Mifsud, the judiciary has also acted correctly and without fear or favour – often to the detriment of the Labour government

That may sound outrageous, but six years ago, lest we forget, there still was a Gonzi administration and, just in case someone is suffering from amnesia, the Gonzi administration is particularly remembered for its very malign and partisan approach to people.

Only too recently I was tempted to stand up during a gathering of business people to emphasise the very bad politics of exclusion espoused by the Gonzi administration.

The reason someone like David Casa regurgitates the same kind of repetitive political discourse is not only because he needs to distract the electorate from the very serious accusations on his alleged cocaine use (reports of which, he has denied of course…) but, more importantly, because he is fighting for his political life with Frank Psaila and Peter Agius on his heels.

Still, let us focus on what Delia has said: he insisted that votes were being bought. I have no idea if Delia has been told but the literal purchase of votes by Nationalist and Labourite candidates was something that was the order of the day quite literally until the late 1990s.

Voters would be paid, at the time between Lm50 and Lm100, to hand over their voting document to ensure they would not vote for their party.

Perhaps I should sit him down and explain to him that this was more common with some notorious Nationalist candidates from the south and centre of the island than he could ever imagine.

The buying of votes in the literal sense today is far-fetched. Delia was, of course, talking of buying votes by dishing out favours.

But what favours is he talking about? The truth is that the PN has never accepted the fact that the Labour Party has won two elections, not because of favours, but simply because its deliverables are visible and tangible, and because it has chosen to be inclusive. To continue disputing this fact is outright foolish. Labour has perfected the politics of the Nationalist Party, a combination of politicking and theatrics that are rooted in neoliberalism, a sprinkle of liberal reform, and fancy lights… it has worked wonders.

Alas, it has also opened the floodgates to construction development, waved the flag of unbridled capitalist endeavour, championed the acquisition of passports for the global rich and itinerant elites, and of course rendered dividends to various self-interest groups in the electorate, blue and red alike.

Surely there are people who have voted because of some personal gain, but you do not win landslide victories because of these alone.

The same goes with the accusation that the Maltese Judiciary has been usurped.  Delia should know that this is hyperbole at its best. Delia is simply repeating a Simon Busuttil chant, echoed by David Casa, of all people. Because beyond the theatrics of Magistrate Joe Mifsud (unrelated to the political machinations of the day), the judiciary has also acted correctly and without fear or favour – often to the detriment of the Labour government.

Before Delia was just about to immerse himself into the ring of politics, two nominations to the bench were those of Wenzu Mintoff and Toni Abela who were traditional punching bags for Simon Busuttil. The usual suspects, former PN secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier and party lawyer Joe Zammit Maempel, declared that they would run a mile from the new judges.

Well, it turned out that the former PL activists and officials have not only earned the respect of the legal profession but also that of the members of the judiciary themselves.

For, in their decisions they have shown that they can rise above their former political allegiance and serve the country rather than the party.

By and large, the judiciary acts in the right way, and ignores the political chatter around them. On no occasion have we seen the intervention of either Joseph Muscat or Owen Bonnici in the running of the judiciary.

Yet, in an attempt to impress on his small political gathering, Delia has exhumed the political messaging of Simon Busuttil and David Casa. It will work wonders with his hardcore but sound discordant with those who are less gullible.

 

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As I see it there are three issues in this election. I am not sure anyone cares at this stage, but it appears the political parties do.

The first one is the environment, the second is pride in Malta and whether we should tolerate that Malta be taken to the cleaners. I will leave the third one for next Sunday…

On the green theme in the political agenda, I can only say that anything that is a plus should be welcomed. More green parks, electric cars and no more fuel stations in ODZ zones are all positive trends.

But if Muscat wants to cross the line, he needs to be more ‘concrete’ (excuse the unfortunate pun): the need to address new planning policies, introduce a skyline policy, preserve our inner village cores and towns, give due attention to open spaces and areas of high biodiversity and, most important of all, rethink the Gozo tunnel.

The public is slowly awakening to the environmental catastrophe around it, exacerbated by decades of wrong policies and disregard for long-term planning.

 

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By the way… on that other issue of abortion, the PN is clearly attempting to emphasise that the PL’s success will effectively mean the introduction of abortion in Malta.

And why? Because the social democrats abroad are in favour of abortion and so it follows that the PL agrees.

With that logic one could also say that many EPP (popular) politicians, parties and government do not object to abortion and accept it as the norm. Obviously, Delia knows this but thinks that he can get away with his campaign and simply point all his fingers at the ‘socialists’.

The truth is that abortion will eventually see the light of day in Malta. But it will not be the politicians who will bring it to the fore, but civil society.

In Italy under a Christian Democratic government civil society pushed for abortion and it was introduced in 1978. Today both the PL and the PN are against abortion as are all the other parties but I know of many people, Labourites and Nationalists, who are not.

In the meantime, life goes on, and women who want an abortion will do what they have always done: travel to the UK or Italy. But when politicians fail, there is always another way. The divorce referendum experience showed the way forward and revealed what the people wanted.

There is always a way forward, and no scaremongering will alter the people’s will.

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