[WATCH] Darren Carabott: ‘People want nothing to do with politics because they’ve been deceived’

A former Santa Venera local councillor, Darren Carabott was elected to parliament on the PN ticket for the first time in 2022. The MP is now responsible for the home affairs portfolio, while also chairing the Public Accounts Committee. He sits down with Matthew Farrugia.

PN home affairs spokesperson Darren Carabott
PN home affairs spokesperson Darren Carabott

Voter apathy reflected in surveys stems from the fact that people have been sold a false bill of goods before elections, PN MP Darren Carabott says. 

The Santa Venera MP insists political disinterest is not only affecting the Labour Party, as surveys suggest, but is also leading to a complete lack of trust in the whole political class. 

I interview Carabott two months after he was tasked to shadow the home affairs portfolio in a reshuffle carried out by Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech. 

Carabott says Malta and its armed forces stand to gain from the EU as the bloc attempts to strengthen its military defence capabilities. He adds, the country’s neutrality can still be respected. 

When asked whether he has faith in Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa, who has been on the receiving end of harsh criticism from the PN, Carabott replies with an emphatic ‘no’. He justifies his stand, citing what he claims is Gafa’s “consistent refusal” to investigate, “the big fish” in cases such as the Vitals hospitals concession, Pilatus Bank and the driving licence racket. 

The MP says that just as police officers on the ground do not hesitate to intervene in street fights, the police’s leadership must not hesitate to investigate and prosecute people simply because they are more powerful than other criminals. 

I also grill Carabott on the PN’s upcoming electoral tests in June when Malta elects its European Parliament representatives and councillors in every town and village. 

However, he shies away from giving me a straight answer when I ask whether Bernard Grech should resign if the PN wins three MEP seats but still loses by many votes. He is not the right person to respond to the question, he tells me. 

However, the MP highlights that the PN is heading into this year’s elections with a winning mentality. 

Often touted in political circles as a potential future leader, Carabott denies having such an ambition. But he does not close the door shut on the possibility sometime in the future.

The following is an excerpt from the interview.

The full interview is also available on Facebook and Spotify.

The PN speaks a great deal about what the police commissioner isn’t doing. Don’t you think that it’s not a politician’s role to dictate what the police must do? When you’re in government I assume you won’t order the police commissioner around. 

I understand where your question is coming from. I think it’s important for the political arm to be distinct from the arm of enforcement. When you have someone occupying an important role which makes him responsible to act as is stated in law, and one does not act, the politician steps in.

We’re not saying that the politician should investigate or command the police commissioner, but the politician has a duty (in the case of government) to lead the country. If a government sees an institution which isn’t doing its job because of its leadership or the decisions being taken, government should act. I’m not saying the politician should order the police commissioner, but if there are failings in an institution, government should see what the problem is, and that’s what we’re saying.

Two weeks ago, Kusi Dismark was deported after 13 years living in Malta. Surely there are more people with similar circumstances who are living here. Do you think these people should be deported immediately, or should one consider their integration into the community? 

You cannot draw a straight line on everything. We should work on a case-by-case basis. Earlier I mentioned the advantages of having a small country, I forgot to add the fact that we have control over who enters and leaves the country. However, we also have the advantage that we can look at people and consider their stories. We’re not numbers. 

However, we must respect the law. In this case, the delay that there was before the law was enforced resulted in a lack of justice. This person spent 13 years in Malta, he had a business. We read that the enforcement took place while he was cutting someone’s hair. He lived here for 13 years. Did they really have to humiliate him like that? 

At the same time, the law must be respected and yet this case led to a lack of justice. But I don’t think that we should issue blanket statements and say, ‘Let’s treat these people differently than the others.’ Every case should be given its due importance because these are people who apply for asylum, and I think that process should be a bit faster as well. I understand the limited resources, but I think we should prioritise enforcement and reduce delayed justice. I believe there should be more effort to consider the human aspect.

Bernard Grech used Kusi as an example to prove that Malta’s population is actually bigger than what the Census says. Don’t you think this rhetoric can help the far-right in Malta? 

Let me start off by condemning the far-right. But I don’t think that it would be fair if we don’t consider the context, I think those words were taken a bit out of context. Bernard Grech mentioned Kusi’s case when he was talking about a situation where there is a lack of justice in enforcing the law. We’re in a situation where the population exploded in a decade with no planning or studies regarding where we’re going. 

As I said, I condemn the far-right, but I worry when we make certain decisions that will grow the population to grow the economy. If you grow the economy through numbers, there will be repercussions. We have infrastructure such as the hospital, our roads and prison which can’t keep up. There are all these services that can’t keep up with our growing population.

We mentioned the police. There too, if the police force remains the same while the population grows, that is a danger that is present due to a lack of planning. That’s our population’s situation, and I think it’s a good thing to see what plans there are with regards to our population and economy.

You’ve been active in politics from a very young age. Unfortunately, today, young people and people in general want absolutely nothing to do with politics. What do you think the problem is with the PN attracting young people? 

I don’t think that this problem is a party problem. The problem is that young people don’t trust politicians and politics in general. It’s not just young people, all age groups are registering growing distrust in politics. The crowd of people who abstained in the last election looks like it is growing. All politicians must address this lack of political activism. I think there should be a change in how politicians communicate. 

Along the years, people have been used for their vote on the eve of elections, which leads to a lack of trust. When you have someone who promises meritocracy, transparency - I’m talking about the change in 2013 - leading people to think there will be a new Malta [and the opposite results]. We should move towards that Malta, but we’ve dangled the carrot in front of people before elections and this led to a lack of trust in politicians.