You could dismiss this One TV “story” as yet another small-time opportunity for Labour to pick on Jason Azzopardi, someone their people love to hate. But being a political party does not absolve them of their responsibilities to democracy, and we have gone too far down the road of tyranny if we stop worrying about a political party that assaults basic rights in the way Labour does.

The news report, for so they say it is, is about Jason Azzopardi representing NGO Repubblika at a European Court of Justice hearing in Luxembourg earlier this week. They berate Repubblika’s lawyer for “speaking against Malta’s system of appointing judges”.

“This is not the first time PN MP Jason Azzopardi and the Repubblika group took sides against Malta.”

They make it sound like it’s a bad thing. Taking the government to court is only forbidden in tyrannies. Courts exist for three purposes essentially: for the state to ask an impartial adjudicator to try and punish criminals; for people to settle their private disputes between themselves without resorting to violence; and for people to seek the protection of an independent arbiter from wrongful actions by their government.

The European Court of Justice is a court that is set up by and regulates the proper implementation of laws that apply in Malta. That is, ultimately, the whole point of EU membership. That European law is made into Maltese law, that it is applied here and that the European court can be resorted to by Maltese citizens like any other court that functions under Maltese law.

This is not about “taking sides against Malta”. This is about demanding that Maltese law is properly enforced in Malta and the government made to work within it. The uncivilised and illegal way to act would be to become a guerrilla or terrorist organisation. Things haven’t got to that extreme if courts are allowed to work and we, the people, are allowed unhindered access to it.

Labour wants to bully people away from seeking redress in courts. It doesn’t really matter here whether Repubblika is right or wrong about the applicability of the EU treaty to the way Malta chose judges in April 2019. The point here is that Labour is assaulting the basic and universal right of all citizens to ask the question to the right court and to hire the lawyer of their choice to pursue their case.

This bullying and intimidation are anti-democratic. Why are we expected to dismiss that as ‘good old Super One’? This is how our democracy has been eroded. This is why we need to push back.