Gaslighting was not a term I was familiar with until recently.
As film buffs would know, it refers to the 1944 film Gaslight, where perfidious husband Charles Boyer is trying to convince his wife Ingrid Bergman that she is going insane by questioning the reality she sees before her.
You would think that was not an easy trick to pull off, right?
And you would think it would be even more difficult to hoodwink not just one person but a whole nation, right?
As readers of this blog have long realised the world is currently being led by Gaslighters, Malta included.
The Trumps, the Johnsons, the Putins and the Abelas, are just that.
Populist ideologies have a habit of throwing up these kinds of politicians, which is not surprising, as simple solutions usually do not work out in the real world. And so, hanging on to power requires a bit more leverage.
And thus it is with Abela.
Last Wednesday’s attempt at leadership failed miserably. Flanked by two even less inspiring politicians, the ‘ma-jafx-x’laqtu’ Edward Scicluna and the ‘kiss-me-quick-kick-me-out-quicker’ Silvio Schembri, Abela cut a sorry sight.
However even sorrier were the proposals he put forward, making grand announcements about a 1.8 billion euro financial package. The internet certainly wasn’t impressed, and the discussion was soon reduced to schoolboy jokes about just how big was his package.
Less than 12 hours later, employers and employees alike were also pointing out just how uninspiring or helpful this so-called mini-budget was.
But people should not have been surprised. Abela was doing what he has done best since he took on the job of PM. He was gaslighting.
Even his introduction to the ‘mini-budget’ was a spectacular example of gaslighting. He said Malta could afford to take these measures because of all the hard work and economic success of this government. What economic success? The one built on selling passports, a construction industry out of control, a reputation as the centre for money-laundering, and killing journalists?
And afford what exactly? Deferring taxes? What taxes was he expecting to collect as the world economy spirals into a death spin? Loan guarantees? That is hardly putting out now is it?
So what we are left with is 35 million euro being added to the health budget. If that number sounds familiar, that is because 35 million euro is the amount paid to Barts to set up a medical school on Gozo. Not to mention the 240 million euro paid to Vitals and the ultimate beneficial owners of that company. And what is the result of all that? That the stand-in-for-the-role-of-Voldemort, Chris Fearne, announces that the medical library will be turned into an emergency hospital ward.
I am writing this because I am very concerned that Abela may actually succeed in his mission.
Already I see inane comments on that most inane of places, Facebook, about how it is a relief from the ‘Daphne stuff’.
Yes, it was just one comment from one flippant person. But we as a nation tend to have the memory of a goldfish.
So perhaps this is a good enough reason to remind ourselves about the tactics of a gaslighter. And as you go down this list ask yourself, how many times this government and this and the previous PM have used these tactics.
1) Tell blatant lies
2) Deny you ever said something, even though the proof is out there
3) Wear people down. A lie here, a lie there, until you lose track of what is true and what is a lie
4) Actions do not match up with the words
5) Project onto others your own manipulative behaviour
6) Complain that everyone else is lying, particularly the media and columnists
7) Align people against you: the troll factories!