Labour has no vision, just shiny words - Bernard Grech

Grech apologises for PN's past mistakes, accuses Robert Abela of only being interested in power

Bernard Grech received a warm welcome as he arrived at the Corradino Sports Complex on Sunday to address a rally.

The PN leader hugged, shook hands and took selfies with many supporters, as well as autographing the odd flag, as the electoral trail snaked its way to Paola on Sunday.

Grech stressed the youthful face of the PN, telling the sizeable crowd that he had met with youths at University, MCAST, Paceville and Valletta this week. “I told you that the young are the present and with you we will make the future.”

“This week we saw Robert Abela in a debate with me. And finally we know why he has been spending the past year and a half avoiding a debate. We know why he has been avoiding journalists, because if he doesn’t have a script he doesn't know what to say.”

The PN’s electoral program was published three weeks ago, he said. One PN proposal is the introduction of a "trackless tram" as a means of public transport. The PN’s mass transport plans would be efficient, timely based on trackless tram, he said. “The PN has solutions. Others have a plan that will take 20 years to implement. We promise a mass transport solution within 5 years.”

Criticising Labour for publishing its electoral program three weeks late, he said it was evident that the party wasn’t prepared. “So why did you rush to call the election? What internal problems do you have? Why are you calling people up everyday? If you cannot solve internal problems, how can you be focused on solving the country’s problems?” Grech asked.

“He [Abela] thinks the people haven’t noticed that all he has is superficiality and image. But neither superficiality nor image will get Malta out of greylisting, you need seriousness, credibility and above all substance!”

"All credit to them, the brochure is nice…you find many emotive words. But no substance.” 

“He said he’d fight poverty. How? He doesn’t know. In 10 years of government they haven’t created a single new economic sector. Not a single one is mentioned in their proposal."

“They have no roadmap. The only roadmap they had before led straight into their pockets.”

Grech poked fun of Labour's use of buzzwords, telling supporters to take them with a pinch of salt. “Blockchain Island. You'd think you’re going to Ibiza. Then they make a mess of it, despite it’s potential.”

One of the things Labour hadn’t copied from the PN manifesto, he said, was their insistence that people be forced to join a trade union. "This is what they want, to control you, like they control PBS, the police, the judiciary,”  he said.

“On election day, nobody will know what you are writing with your pencil on the ballot paper, but you will know that together with thousands of other Maltese, you will be bringing change, you will be bringing freedom.”

On precarious employment, Grech said that it was unbelievable that Labour was promising to “observe poverty,” when they had previously promised to eradicate precarious employment.

“They have nothing but nice, shiny words, because their vision doesn’t exist.”

The lack of maturity was evident, Grech said, pointing to Abela’s blank response to Grech’s proposal to suspend campaigning for one day for a peace march. "He isn’t even capable of deciding in favour of peace." 

Grech said it was becoming clearer every day that Robert Abela was only interested in power and nothing more. “He wants power over you. And so not to lose popularity, he runs away from journalists, doesn’t answer questions, attends events where he is ‘safe’ so the leader of the opposition doesn’t catch him.”

“Now they are boasting that they are corrupt. But can you believe this?" Grech said, referring to a recet speech made by Labour stalwart Joe Debono Grech.

“They never change,” the PN leader went on, pointing to the Planning Authority’s  recent approval of a massive development in Sannat in Gozo, saying that the day before, Abela had just said that he would not be approving such projects. 

Addressing faltering Labour voters directly, Grech asked them to examine their conscience. "But you, whose heart is with Robert but your mind is with us, how can you believe that he will protect green spaces?"

The permit was approved in spite of everyone being against it, Grech said. “I asked him if he had by any chance spoken to someone about this project…'I meet a lot of people,' Abela had replied. So I ask him again. What was said in that meeting, Robert?”

"They are not going to copy our proposal to give at least 50,000 sqm of land back to the public every year. They will give it to a friendly developer," Grech told the crowd.

“I tell him something else. You need to stop once and for all to stop using the pandemic for your convenience and taking the power from the people,"  Grech went on, reminding that Abela had blamed the pandemic for not publishing his party’s accounts. “We published ours. This is the first time that a party is running for election without publishing accounts," Grech said. “Your deception is unravelling more and more everyday.”

Emphasising that he always keeps his word, Grech said “When I say we will be investing €1 billion to create 10 economic sectors, we will be doing so.”

Malta must choose weather it wants to remain with a public broadcaster that is under Castille's thumb , Grech said, saying that Malta was on it's way to becoming "practically a dictatorship."

"Robert Abela says he wants an ever bigger majority. To be stronger. Why? Isn’t it enough to have captured a country's institutions? He wants the opposition to be ineffective, so he can continue to steamroller over you. He wants more power to have ministers avoid answering parliamentary questions," Grech said.

“In less than two weeks, our country can choose another path. That which apart from material wealth, also ensures basic rights. Associating with a political party is a basic right. Proper scrutiny is needed and for this to happen, a PN government is required.”

Unusually for Maltese politics, Grech asked for forgiveness for his party's past mistakes. “There were mistakes in the past. There will probably also be other mistakes. We ask you for forgiveness. I cannot guarantee that there will be no mistakes in the future, but I promise you that all our strength will be aimed at bettering our dear country.”

“The time has come to look to the future. We are focused on creating good things together with you. We want good things for you, for your children, for our country...You have the right to live your life in the way you want.”

"The price we will pay if we are unable to look to the future will be too great…this party fought hard for your rights. It fought to joint Europe and to preserve your individual rights. I promise you an authentic government, a sensitive government, a government that always pays attention to you, and not just two weeks before the election."

Grech said that if elected, the PN would "roll up our sleeves and get to work for you."  As the crowd's roar reached its crescendo, Grech pointed to his party's historical performance in elections. "We were never afraid and today we are seeing the fruit of the courageous decisions our forefathers made. The PN would win back Malta’s reputation, but this can only happen if you vote for us.”