I was chewing the fat, duly masked and distanced, with a bloke of sound mind, and similar to mine and we riffed on a theme.

We agreed, as blokes of similar minds tend to, that we have no illusion about the state of the PN and the capabilities of Bernard, as they are viewed by the Great Unwashed.

By the yardstick of the aforementioned GU, for what that is worth, both are wanting but we were as one in feeling that if forced to compare them to the MLP (initials purposely given in that manner, they haven’t changed) and its Crowned Head, Robert the Abela, give us the PN and Grech any day, any time.

In this context, we felt duly pissed off by the regular surveys with which we are regaled and the way they are reported by the media. The fact that the MLP and Prince Robert are going from strength to strength is portrayed as evidence of their strength.

In our book it is the continued deterioration of our democratic fabric, our institutions, whatever is left of them, that is being starkly portrayed, as opposed to the polling numbers being evidence of anyone’s strength.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we lamented that any decent Maltese should be crying their eyes out, because this is nothing but evidence that we are on the slippery road to hell and no mistake.

It was and remains baffling that your average punter (if the polls are to be believed, and bear in mind that there are plenty of “don’t know, don’t care, don’t want to says” buried in there) trusts the PL and Emperor Robert more than the alternative, such as it is.

This bafflement is conditioned, of course by these following considerations, to which you can attribute your interpretation.

The MLP in Government has been on a recruitment spree, adding staff to central government and its agencies directly or indirectly, from 41,000 at end 2012 to 51,000 this year. These are iced buns that must influence the votes of entire families. Not the first time they’ve done it, either: remember KMB and his “raba’ rebħa”? Close run thing, that was, and no mistake.

We have a bloated government, with each ministry, parliamentary secretary, having a swollen PR and ‘customer care team’, paid for by you, ensuring that the average Maltese is bombarded by adverts promoting government initiatives, giving everything a twist in favour of the MLP in government.

I tend to have to resist the urge to throw up when faced with bill-boards in the North Korean style that these operatives seem to delight in dreaming up (and the PN should give some thought to this, they’re just as guilty) but it seems that Joe and Josephine Public actually find them persuasive.

Joe and Josephine are also inundated with ‘għandek bżonn xi ħaġa’ calls from ministries, which probably gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling, promoting the Minister concerned up the scale when they come to voice an opinion as to his or her awesomeness.

Direct orders, faux overtime and laissez faire attitudes towards everything from parking tickets to tax evasion to hotel room bookings (just random examples) are the order of the day, keeping a good chunk of the population happy as pigs in shit.

Bolstering all of this, TVM (or Super Two) is a massive PL propaganda machine while the PN, even on the odd occasion when it says something worth listening to, is starved of exposure. The PN is also starved of money, with MPs who are part-time and do not have the luxury of an entourage employed by central government promoting them and their party, so it’s hardly surprising that the PN’s utterances are less than earth-shattering in effect.

We recalled, about three beers into our confab, that there’s a free for all at the Planning Authority, and given that most people care less about the environment than about lining their pockets, we contemplated the dregs of the fourth (or third?) beer and failed to be astounded that people just love this bunch of oafs.

Depressing picture, innit?