The way Robert Abela enables Rosianne Cutajar is nothing short of a disgrace. The prime minister and his government seem to be in no doubt that not only is she an embarrassment, but her conduct is entirely and altogether unacceptable. They implicitly acknowledged yesterday that an independent committee of European MPs with no stake in Malta’s political game would find against her and throw her out of Europe’s human rights organisation on principle. Rather than allow the process to take its course, Robert Abela blocked it. Rather than allow the inevitable to force him to strike off Rosianne Cutajar from the Labour Party list, he intervened to guarantee her impunity.

No wonder Rosianne Cutajar behaves as if she is above criticism. The audacity with which she lashes out at her critics is blinding. The fact that whatever happens, however much we learn about her inappropriate relationship with the mafia don charged with killing a journalist to cover up his rotten government contracts, she remains supremely confident in her permanence on the political scene is truly galling.

And the government is complicit.

In spite of all the bullish talk that she couldn’t wait for the opportunity to respond to charges of unethical behaviour as a Council of Europe Parliamentarian, she was replaced in the post just so she could avoid responding.

It’s not unlike what happened in Parliament here. She roared that she was looking forward to the Standards Commissioner finding for her and vindicating her version of events but when he did the opposite she got the government to cover up for her and ensure she never faced consequences.

The only significant message all this sends out is quite horrible. If you have a “private and personal” relationship with a mafioso, you become untouchable. You’re not only protected from criminal consequences, you are also protected from political consequences.

This is not just about Rosianne Cutajar though. It is impossible not to suspect that Robert Abela would not be quite as protective of her if the scandal she was involved in was an affair with any odd sugar daddy. This was a relationship with the man the state charged for organising the murder of a journalist. Think of that and it should be inevitable to realise that what Robert Abela is protecting here is the continuation of Yorgen Fenech’s influence, his extended hold on the workings of government.

The fact is Rosianne Cutajar will contest the next election on the Labour Party’s ticket. She’ll be recommended to her electorate by her political party, her sins not merely forgiven but, worse, reduced to lies by the nasty Nationalists.

You’d have to ask why. Is Rosianne Cutajar more indispensable to the prospects of the Labour Party than, say, Chris Cardona, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and even Joseph Muscat? If those could be dismissed, forced to resign, or made to withdraw with more or less grace, why is Rosianne Cutajar’s inappropriate relationship with Yorgen Fenech acceptable to Robert Abela?

How is it ok for a Labour Party MP to cover up such a conflict of interest, speaking in Parliament here and at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in defence of her secret lover? How is it ok for her to pocket tens of thousands in cash in commissions on deals involving Yorgen Fenech without declaring them in her assets returns? How is it ok for her to receive and accept massive cash gifts from Yorgen Fenech while publicly protesting his innocence on his behalf?

None of this is acceptable. And none of this suggests that Robert Abela would behave any differently from Joseph Muscat if again he would need to decide between ditching MPs or party officials under his command living in uncomfortable proximity to organised crime or preserving the perception of party unity right or wrong.

We never learn. Rosianne Cutajar’s re-election to parliament and, as she certainly plans, her return to government, plays out once again the playbook from 2017. Her protection and preservation books our seat to watch again the same film: revolting gloating at the election followed by inevitable and catastrophic disaster sometime after it.

The seeds of the destruction of the next government are being sown in this one.