The attitude of Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona yesterday in Parliament was utterly revolting. Their complete and utter contempt for Parliament is truly the pits. These people move around expecting deference due to the office they hold. They have people from across the political aisle defending them and attacking those who stay away from them.
Consider that infamous photo of Adrian Delia being chummy with Joseph Muscat at the football stadium. The fact that people dared to doubt the appropriateness of the image taken the same week Joseph Muscat stepped in to protect Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri from the 17 Black revelations was enough for apologists to speak of the need of politicians treating each other with respect and leaving the professional rivalry out the door in moments of national unity like your average drubbing at a Ta’ Qali international match.
What utter rubbish.
If people have fantasies of seeing their politicians across the political divide laugh and joke chummily together like George Bush (junior) and Barrack Obama, they should remember that both of them avoid Donald Trump like a venereal disease.
Disagreement on policies can live with genuine friendships. But the ravine of corruption cannot be bridged with a beer and a laugh.
Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona sat back and made a mockery of yesterday’s Parliamentary debate. Government ministers of all colours fall for the temptation of resorting to arrogance as a defence mechanism when they are being challenged. Everyone in politics is guilty of that at some point. It is far from a distinct characteristic that defines Joseph Muscat. Conventional supreme and often unjustified self-confidence that fuels politicians and helps them get out of bed in the morning when everyone else wants to tie them to one is not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the hubristic attitude of Mafiosi who mock the deluded honest cop because they know they’ll walk away unharmed from anything that cop might try to do to them.
Opposition MPs who did their homework and read the NAO report on the Electrogas scandal were quoting chapter and verse from that 600-page ponderous tome.
Some of them were seriously good students. They stuck post-its to the edges and underlined the most damning quotes.
They were trying to counter the hammered-in spin that the government went for within minutes of the publication of the report. They were trying to challenge the barefaced lie the report deemed the Electrogas process some form of best practice, or even a good practice, or even a passable or barely tolerable practice.
They were trying to prove, by quoting the report, Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi lied when they said the auditor had found nothing out of order in the Electrogas selection or that he has determined they hadn’t closed the deal before the 2013 election when they were still in Opposition.
Every time they quoted a paragraph in the NAO report, Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona played a mock tombola, calling ‘line’ or ‘house’. Arrogance is an intuitive defence mechanism for politicians. Making a mockery of Parliament, of the auditor that reports to it and of the enormous effort to get to the bottom of all the massive wrongdoing in the Electrogas deal is the defence mechanism of crooks.
You can understand why Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi do it. They’re guilty as sin. Chris Cardona, on the other hand, does this sort of thing for fun. Like the thug of legend who disembowels a peasant for disturbing his breakfast, Chris Cardona wields his axe in Parliament because he thinks he can scare people. Maybe he does.
Starting with the rest of the Labour Party group most of which stayed away from the debate. Edward Scicluna, Helena Dalli, Ian Borg, Carmelo Abela, Deo Debattista, Jose Herrera: all stayed away from Parliament while their Cabinet colleague was being poked over evidence of the price consumers pay for his corruption.
Chris Agius was in the House to answer his Parliamentary Questions but vanished by the time the Electrogas debate started.
Owen Bonnici, Evarist Bartolo, Justyne Caruana and Julia Farrugia clocked in and within moments vanished back out again.
The ‘support’ Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi were getting was not so much from their Parliamentary colleagues as from Kurt Farrugia and an entourage of apparatchiks on the sidelines sending the prime minister his script.
There’s always the temptation of reading too much in this behaviour. This is no rebellion. Labour politicians are not trying to send some form of a message to Joseph Muscat that they do not support his support of their corrupt colleague.
But one must also resist the temptation of reading too little in this behaviour. The excuse, if they’ll ever bother to give one, for staying away from such an important political debate because of other government commitments is just that: an excuse.
The real reason is their collective indifference, their utter contempt for any scrutiny of the government they belong to. They don’t even need to pretend to look like a team standing by each other when one of them is under attack. They don’t need to look united or committed, or in any way convinced their colleague is unfairly attacked. Because as far as they are concerned no one can do anything to any one of them. They are beyond anyone else’s reach.
This is not ordinary arrogance. This is corruption in and of itself.
I have had up to here with people having dreamy notions of some clean shaven or sharp-jawed Labour leader stepping in to replace Joseph Muscat peacefully ending the rotten years of corruption and replacing the Panama Gang with a brave new world.
I am completely unimpressed with the secret admirers of Chris Fearne who excuse him for biding his time and making sure he can do away with Joseph Muscat when the effort would not scratch him. The fact that he can challenge Joseph Muscat means that it is his duty to do so. Now. Before more irreparable damage to the country happens. The fact that he doesn’t mean that he too wants to continue to benefit from the institutionalised corruption Joseph Muscat presides over.
Chris Fearne stood yesterday in Parliament to eulogise Vincent Moran as “the father of primary healthcare”. He may have been that. But speaking of the 1970s as some form of foundation myth of our national health service when an entire generation of professionals was locked out of hospitals and chased out of the country along with entire hospitals shut down is an apology that rewrites history for the sole intent of legitimising present elites.
I can already see him make a similar speech as a new leader of the Labour Party, and prime minister by default, glorifying the ‘golden years’ under Joseph Muscat, sanitising for posterity the industrial scale corruption we are living through.
He’s not the only one. Politico named Myriam Dalli as one of Europe’s great doers. She may be the most useful MEP since Nigel Farage, but she is an apologist for Joseph Muscat’s corruption even in the face of the near-unanimous disgust of her own Strasbourg Socialist Party. If she is as much of a doer as she is reputed to be, why doesn’t she do something useful for a change and actually tell Joseph Muscat the lines he should never have crossed are now slicing across his political throat?
These dreamy heroes of a future Labour Party are abandoning the present in the interests of their political ambitions. They may not be the ones making a dog’s breakfast of public administration and Parliamentary scrutiny. But they are propping up the corrupt lot that is gobbling up that breakfast.
Listen to them laugh.