If only we knew

In the Labour milieu, people are talking of a government that needs to act fast and of a strong Joseph Muscat who is simply not there

Former PN leader Simon Busuttil
Former PN leader Simon Busuttil

I would do everything to look into the future. If we all did have that opportunity or gift, the world would be a very different place. Everyone would be calculating their losses and gains.

Can you just imagine if you could figure out when and where your life would come to an end? It would not only be a case of real-time pension planning but an insight into the future – organising your life, your decisions, and the precise amount of money you would spend until the day you die and what you would bequeath to your loved ones. And, of course, when to kickstart the bucket list.

Thankfully, life is not like that. If it were, we would be living in a much crazier world than we do today. Which is why successful politicians have a sixth sense – a sense to look into the future and avoid making the knee-jerk reactions or decisions that are so typical in the case of politicians.

And, of course, that brings me to the subject of the week.

The reason we are reporting the motion calling on Joseph Muscat to call it a day for Keith Schembri is because it truly is the issue of the day, brought about by Schembri’s unexpected decision not to testify in a case he himself had initiated against Simon Busuttil. The fact that he refused to give testimony on 17 Black uncovered an old festering wound, leading to strong words and emotions.

Had his lawyers had any sense, they should have seen it coming.

But lawyers very often get lost in translation.

Because it has to be said that like him or hate him, Simon Busuttil is not only an unwavering and stubborn man but also one who has just discovered a bitter-sweet pill that has reinvigorated his fighting spirit.

One has to say that after the Egrant report it was PN leader Adrian Delia who removed Busuttil’s designation as party spokesman for good governance.

When Delia asked him to accept suspension as a way forward, Busuttil resisted. Not only that, as much as 50% of all the parliamentarians supported Busuttil.

Busuttil has made a small comeback, aided by individuals such as blogger Manuel Delia from Repubblika, who after losing all his credibility and even suffering financial deprivation because of his past links to Austin Gatt, returned suddenly to the fore after the Daphne Caruana Galizia tragedy.

In the Labour milieu, people are talking of a government that needs to act fast and of a strong Joseph Muscat who is simply not there

Simon Busuttil seized this golden opportunity (after the Schembri debacle) and was catapulted to centre stage in this messy and bloody colosseum.

Adrian Delia has been egged on by PN reformer Louis Galea, who is now the eminence grise of the PN and a good friend of Simon Busuttil. He has urged Adrian Delia to build bridges with his foes. But Louis Galea knows in his heart of hearts that Busuttil is not after leadership but vengeance – against Muscat and then against Delia.

Today’s front page confirms the worst case scenario.

After the Egrant fiasco, Busuttil wants to drive the point home that Muscat and his men are corrupt, no matter what. He also knows and is more aware than Adrian Delia that the magisterial inquiry on 17 Black and Keith Schembri will most probably find nothing criminal or of criminal intent.

And that is why he cannot not take advantage of this situation.

The decision not to testify created the right narrative for this line of thinking – buying time until the inquiry’s findings are published.

Adrian Delia has argued that this is not about criminal responsibility but political responsibility. But with allegations on his past, Delia has little or no credibility when he cries wolf about this subject.

In his parliamentary adjournment Simon Busuttil called on all those who wanted to have their voice heard on Keith Schembri to come along for the Saturday evening Repubblika protest.  And he called on the PN to do its bit and attend.

A day later when attending his own parliamentary group, Busuttil did not support the idea that the whole PN group should walk together in the protest despite pleas by other MPs on how important a united PN would look.

Busuttil went further, as the front page story in MaltaToday attests.

As this whole saga unfolds, Muscat looks on. Patient, calm and pensive. Asking himself what he should do next.

He has been through worse and is still high in the polls with a 30-point difference over Delia. And he also knows that Simon Busuttil is back and that is good news for him.

Nonetheless, he knows that he has cracks and old wounds to tend to. And that is a problem. He cannot afford inaction.

In the Labour milieu, people are talking of a government that needs to act fast, and of a strong Joseph Muscat, who has somehow faded.

I do not believe he will ask Schembri to resign. He did not do it at the height of the Panama crisis and neither did he during the Egrant affair.

He has always been patient and ultimately a master in choosing the right moment to strike back.

But it could be that the master chess player is running out of moves. Yet even if this is so, unlike Kasparov – who would always face another master such as Fischer – there is still no one on the other side to match him.

And that, I am afraid, is why the democracy game is doomed to fail until the Opposition can rally around one voice, one vision and one common goal.

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