Jacob Borg striding inches behind politicians rushing towards the safety of that fortress we still call the Auberge de Castille, one hand in his pocket like a rebel without a cause, the other holding up a microphone, is fast becoming a sub-genre of contemporary, low-budget, Maltese cinema.

His latest guest star, Robert Abela, must surely win the Razzie for Most Overdramatised Self-Pitying Too Poorly Improvised Attempt at Spin Performance. He almost, very nearly, beat that time Joseph Muscat looked up to the sky for clues on when the last time he had met Yorgen Fenech had been. Or that other winner when Keith Schembri told the reporter he spent the last 3 years paying his salary.

Robert Abela is in shit. Perhaps most people don’t realise it yet, but he does. Unlike anyone else he has a clear idea of how he came to be as wealthy as he is. Unlike most people he understands that in the same way that the press figured out how he made money over a deal with an alleged criminal, they can, over time, figure out how he made the rest of his money.

Robert Abela knows that for a while people will admire him for being a wise guy, for wheeling and dealing, for closing eyes and nudging elbows, for winking and sharing fags, in order to provide for his family. For a while people liked Joseph Muscat for that even after Joseph Muscat had to resign.

But Robert Abela knows, seeing Joseph Muscat’s experience, that people stop liking that after a while especially when they realise the wheeling and dealing is a system, a way of life.

Robert Abela was not angry yesterday merely because of the deal exposed by The Sunday Times. He was angry because he realises the inevitability of his fate. He has every reason to be confident he will win the next election but he knows it will go south for him soon after that.

We are approaching the 2022 election in a mood which is similar to the 2017 election. We have an angry prime minister lashing out at journalists and accusing them of destabilising conspiracies that exist only in his head. The only thing these journalists are destabilising is his grip on power, which is not the same as destabilising the country. Those two things are only the same if you think the prime minister and his country are one and the same.

Perish the thought. We can’t accept to be run by wise guys. We can’t accept to be led by the example of people who can’t talk straight about their wealth. The moment we accept the inevitability of this is the moment we accept we too are wise guys, just lower rankings ones, button men for the hoods that stole our country.

Consider Robert Abela’s choice of words, professing shock that Times of Malta’s editor, Herman Grech, was seen drinking coffee (whatever next?) with the PN’s propagandist Christian Peregin. They were, in broad daylight, sitting at a table in a coffee house. My God, the audacity. They were “conspiring”, Robert Abela said. There’s the destabilisation again, the charge of sedition, the alleged conspiracy to undermine good order by revealing the secrets of the head of government.

Quite how Robert Abela figured out what Herman Grech and Christian Peregin spoke about over coffee is something I’d rather not think about. Anyone without some sinister means of overhearing them could more reasonably assume that a journalist was asking questions to a party spokesperson, hardly a mystery.

Instead, Robert Abela openly claims he knows they were “conspiring” to expose his wheeling and dealing. Let’s assume he’s right. So what? What’s his point? The question here is not whether this was a conspiracy but whether it is true.

There’s no doubt it is. It’s all in the paperwork. He can’t deny any of it. He can only try, as he is doing, to normalise it or a least minimise its significance. Robert Abela can complain about how Times of Malta found out about it in his own time. The real point is Times of Malta didn’t keep the information to itself. Now we found out about it too. Now we know how he got rich quick. Some people will like him for it, envy it, imitate it. Some people won’t.

Honest, hard-working families, who pay all their taxes on time, who’ve only ever sat at a promise of sale agreement to buy their only home on a mortgage, who never flipped properties over to make a quick cool, minimally taxed 5-figure sum, won’t like it.

Especially when they realise Robert Abela didn’t just do this once in some lucky fluke. He may very well have done this over and over again, that this was a system for him. They won’t like it when they realise Robert Abela thinks VAT and Income Tax is for schlemiels like you and me. Wise guys like him get to stack the cash instead. And then they get to be prime minister and wag their fingers at you to remind you of the VAT and Income Tax you owe.

There is a conspiracy in this story. That’s not the chinwag between a newspaper editor and a party spokesperson which is two people doing their modestly-paid fully-taxed job just as they should be doing it. The conspiracy is perpetrated in those law office boardrooms where a lawyer nudges a criminal to let him wet his beak in the pool of slime, mud and blood of their criminally-earned profits.