Tim Sebastian made mince meat of Chris Fearne but he was only the sous chef. This recipe was cooked by the prime cook, Joseph Muscat.

When Chris Fearne was elected deputy leader in July I wrote a piece for The Sunday Times giving reasons why Chris Fearne’s election was a nightmare scenario for Joseph Muscat. Joseph Muscat wanted Helena Dalli or Edward Scicluna. Either one would have played a Gerald Ford to Joseph Muscat’s Nixon, protecting him if he ever needed protection when and if the Panama inquiries ever arrived to conclusions he would not be able to survive.

Here’s an extract from that piece:

“When Louis Grech left for reasons we can all understand, Muscat needed his deputy’s seat filled by a loyal Gerald Ford type. Someone with no ambition to replace him. Someone with an ego large enough to want to be his deputy but not quite large enough to want to be him.

“Muscat made no secret of the fact that he wanted either Helena Dalli or Edward Scicluna as his deputy. His message, on the eve of the deputy leadership vote, about needing more women in politics, symbolically countersigned by another Dalli, was as subtle as a trumpet. Failing that, Scicluna – his mentor morphed into pupil – would have been an equally emollient back-up plan.

“Chris Fearne is a nightmare scenario for Muscat. Unlike the other two candidates, not only is he proper leadership material, which makes him a very dangerous deputy, but he hungers for it, and when the right occasion arises, he will be found locked and loaded.

“At the last election, Fearne presented himself as the rational foil to Muscat’s politi­cal minion: Konrad Mizzi. But, unlike Mizzi, Fearne has a political pedigree that stretches back a lifetime, a Labour supporter in sickness and in health. He also presents the image of a straight-talking welfare socialist, in contrast with Mizzi’s convoluted business-speak.

“But when Fearne contrasts himself with Mizzi, he is really contrasting himself first and foremost with Muscat. He is letting us know that his heart is with the State-hospital patient, not the millionaire developer. He is letting us know he is in politics for the service, not for the millions siphoned off elsewhere.”

Joseph Muscat is mindful of the double danger of having Chris Fearne gnawing at his heels. Double because Chris Fearne is a major contrast of clean politics with the rot that the prime minister has instituted and because Chris Fearne is a viable alternative to him waiting in the wings.

But Chris Fearne has one major weakness. He is above all a party man and he will go do any job he is sent to do by his boss as long as his boss is still his boss. He will go do the job even if he knows his boss is making him do it to dilute his political capital.

The prime minister has been dodging the international press for weeks now. When he realised, very early on during that interview with Christiane Amanpour, that seasoned global journalists will not quite accept his crap wholesale and throw back at him his fallacies, he went into hiding. Reports in the international press started to complain aloud that the prime minister was refusing to speak to them, his office ignoring their calls for as long as they could and for the more persistent ones coming up with all sorts of excuses why he was too busy to see them.

He is hiding from the international press because in the real world outside this hive of partisan compromise and mediocrity facts are not defeated by cheap charm, and arguments are not brushed aside with the screaming adulation of a hero-worshiping majority.

But as ever with the clever crook, Joseph Muscat finds an opportunity even in this disaster. He wheels out Chris Fearne and like Lord Cardigan in Balaclava orders him to charge straight into the fire. Except for the obvious complicity of acquiescence and silence, Chris Fearne is innocent of the accusations he is forced to defend.

He was not involved in the power station deals, the oil procurement deals, the gas tanker deal, the licensing of Pilatus, the selling of passports, the setting up of Panama companies and New Zealand trusts, the unfair dismissal of money-laundering investigators, the demonisation of journalists, the sacking of police chiefs,  the granting of land to developers on the cheap, even the hospitals deal which he is forced to implement against what appears to be his better judgement.

But there he is now, on the front line, defending Konrad Mizzi, his electoral district rival, even as he reminds, himself it would seem, that “here, no one is above the law”. There is Chris Fearne being forced to make his own the corruption of his colleagues, having to tarnish the greatest asset he is endowed with and which is of greatest danger to Joseph Muscat: his fatal purity.

Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.