[WATCH] Malta needs a prime minister who has worked hard, suffered and dirtied his hands – Bernard Grech

Xtra on TVMplus+ | Bernard Grech says the Prime Minister has had a life of privilege and cannot understand what ordinary people are passing through

Bernard Grech says the Prime Minister cannot understand the problems of ordinary people
Bernard Grech says the Prime Minister cannot understand the problems of ordinary people

Bernard Grech branded Robert Abela a ‘detached rich man’ during his speech at the Independence Day eve mass gathering.

Grech took a risk by going down that road opening himself up to criticism that he is indulging in the politics of envy.

But the Opposition leader is not letting go of that description despite the slippery slope he is treading on, qualifying it slightly not to put off people who have had a comfortable life.

On TVMnews+ Grech insisted Malta needed a prime minister “who has worked hard, suffered and dirtied his hands” to understand the troubles ordinary people face.

“It does not mean that whoever succeeded in life found the going easy. Today there are people just scraping a living… you have to pass through it to understand them,” he said.

Interviewed by Saviour Balzan on Xtra, Grech insisted he never offended the Prime Minister. “I never offended the Prime Minister like he did when he called me ‘cheap’.”

“I am happy with people’s successes… and as a prime minister I will be happy to see them progress. But the Prime Minister had a comfortable upbringing and he cannot understand people,” Grech emphasised.

He had described his own humble beginnings with his wife during the mass gathering on the Granaries, painting a picture of a hard-working couple that first moved into an apartment and then bought a house that they made up themselves.

The description was intended to contrast with what Grech described as the Prime Minister’s privileged upbringing.

Grech used the initial part of the interview to hit out at the national broadcaster for what he claimed was the partial reporting that favoured the government. He lamented the lack of exposure on TVM for the Nationalist Party and its spokespersons.

“Despite this imbalance, and keeping in mind from where we started in the polls as a party, we have registered progress over the past year but more needs to be done,” Grech said when confronted with survey data that shows him trailing the Prime Minister in the trust rating.

Grech insisted he was concentrating on what he will do if elected prime minister, when asked what his future will be if the PN lost the next general election.

Gozo, cannabis and ODZ

He reiterated the PN was committed to an air link for Gozo and would allow Gozitans to decide in a referendum if they wanted a tunnel link to Malta.

On cannabis decriminalisation, Grech said the PN will wait for government to put forward its legislative proposal before commenting.

He also referenced the pledge to protect ODZ areas by introducing a two-thirds majority vote in parliament for big projects, giving short shrift to the additional explanation given over the weekend by the party that a two-thirds vote will be necessary to change policy not to approve projects.

“I will not tolerate four people grabbing what belongs to 450,000 people… It was not easy for me to say that ODZ development has to go to parliament but it is time for politicians to say things that have to be said,” Grech said.

On civil society groups like Repubblika, Grech said organisations like these had an important role in society but they are not political parties. “They are just civil society. They are not political parties. It is the PN that has the role of running the country and has an obligation to ask people for their vote.”

Grech said the PN was financed by donations and income derived from the ċedoli scheme. He said it was not right for political parties not to pay VAT collected by their companies and insisted the PN companies were adhering to payment terms agreed some years ago.

It was recently revealed that the media companies belonging to the political parties had outstanding tax dues running into millions.

When asked what will one of his first decisions be if the PN is elected to govern the country, Grech said his government would set up an injustices board to address wrongdoing by the Labour government and past PN administrations.

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