It’s too early to make assessments but we can speak of what we see. Bernard Grech has had a small number of public engagements since he won Saturday’s election.
On Sunday he gave a sober run-down of his immediate plans for change. On Monday he published a short list of clear demands on his agenda for discussions with the prime minister. On Tuesday he met the prime minister getting on his nerves with calm poise and a determination not to accommodate Robert Abela’s whims. Today he was sworn in as leader of opposition. He went to the ceremony on time and fielded tough questions from the press without missing a beat, clear, concise, on top of it.
None of these are herculean feats but they are a remarkable cut above what we’ve grown used to. Adrian Delia was (and remains) the drunk uncle at Christmas lunch whose secrets you hope and pray no one brings up until he brings them up himself. Robert Abela is an infant, shallow, self-conscious, vain and superficial.
The ‘say Malta is full up’ routine is so simplistic that it is practically comic. Today the prime minister ‘clarified’ Malta is not too full to import labour but too full to rescue migrants drowning at sea. If this wasn’t murderously racist it would be a hilarious failure in elementary logic. And it’s also a failed attempt by the prime minister to wriggle himself out of the corner Bernard Grech put him in when he parried “the challenge” of agreeing Malta was “full up”.
Bernard Grech is stepping into a field that since 2013 has been occupied by three disasters of varying shades of miserable: Joseph Muscat, Adrian Delia and Robert Abela. And then there was Simon Busuttil, the exception that proves the rule that we don’t know a good thing when we see it.
Muscat, Delia and Abela were Malta’s choice for prime minister (or prime minister in waiting). We will wonder when we will be able to afford hindsight how this country could not find anyone more fitting for the role. It’s like asking me to join the national football team.
Being better than that lot is not asking for much. We’ve been through so much, it will take time before I can sing anyone’s praises, but looking at a man in a suit staring down the prime minister from across the table hard enough to get out of him an embarrassing scene of pregnant hysteria was the most fun I had this week with clothes on.
Not to spoil your mood, but do you remember this?