Joseph Muscat on irrevocable democratic choices

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2019-01-14T09:33:12+02:00Mon, 14th Jan '19, 09:33|0 Comments

There’s something profoundly exquisite in Joseph Muscat speaking of obscure forces in the PN acting in defiance of a democratic decision to have Adrian Delia as a leader. “This betrays a mind-set where democracy is only relevant if you like what the people have decided”

Just 4 months ago he went on BBC Radio 4 to tell them the UK should hold a “second Brexit referendum so as to settle the controversy about Britain leaving the EU once and for all”.

His arguments against anyone within the PN objecting to the PN’s current leader is identical to the objections of Theresa May against a second Brexit referendum. A democratic choice has already been made, there’s no room for a different one.

Double-speak for Joseph Muscat is a dark skill. His understanding of popular votes is heir to the golden years of 1981-1987 when his hero Dom Mintoff ruled Malta without a majority mandate. And then of course he celebrated his party’s interpretation of the EU referendum result in 2003 which then “with hindsight” (for which read when convenient to him) he understood to have reflected the opposite popular opinion.

The fact of the matter when a court makes a decision, it is subject to appeal by a higher court. The appeal process is not a mechanism of mistrust in the justice system. You are not holding the entire judicial system in contempt if you disagree with a decision taken by a court and seek a different decision in another one.

In the same way, when Parliament passes a law you are perfectly entitled to disagree with it. It does not make you anti-democratic if you say that a law passed by Parliament is wrong. It is not seditious to object to that law in public, in the press or in a court of law. And laws are not immutable. New laws are brought in to change them. New decisions over-rule old ones. That is not anti-democratic. It is democracy in action.

Similarly, a political decision taken by a Minister may be reversed by the same Minister or by his colleagues in Cabinet or by his Prime Minister. True the Minister was elected as an MP democratically, but it doesn’t make all his decisions infallible or their reversals anti-democratic.

A democratic choice can reverse a former democratic choice. That is not less democratic it just is.

In the back of my mind, I might be making a case for a second Brexit referendum, though I doubt that’s likely.

But I am also reminding Joseph Muscat he made exactly the same case but, because of his mindset of acting democratically if and only if that is convenient to him, he is making the opposite argument where the choice of Adrian Delia as his opposite number is concerned.

No doubt Adrian Delia was chosen to oppose him democratically. Joseph Muscat could not hide his glee at the choice because from his point of view the choice was wrong in that it was convenient for him. It’s like the soldiers of an enemy camp elect the village idiot to be their general. No one would be happier than Joseph Muscat on such a day and nothing would make him unhappier than the loss of that advantage.

If he really admired the PN’s method of choosing its leader he would admit that he does not enjoy the same degree of democratic legitimacy as he was not elected by the Labour Party’s membership but by the craftier councillors who chose a leader that could actually win them an election.

Of course, he knows that councillors of the Labour Party have made wrong choices before. Alfred Sant is fresh in his mind.

But that’s all academic. Joseph Muscat wants Adrian Delia to stay on and shares Adrian Delia’s argument that a fresh democratic choice of leader would be undemocratic.

There’s the mindset of people for whom democracy is only relevant when you like what the people have decided.