Photo: Newsbook

It’s like one of those dinners in a Luis Buñuel film. If you’ve watched them, you know what I mean, and if you haven’t you won’t get it if I explain it.

This election campaign will be as easy for Labour to win as it is easy for a hand to find its owner’s mouth while feeding it. And yet, for Robert Abela, it’s looking like such a grotesque effort. A prime minister that is sure of victory should be enjoying the month of public adulation and ovation. He would be smirking at cameras, congratulating himself in interviews, patronising reporters like the granddaddy of good will.

Indeed, to paint an awful picture, given his eminently justified certainty of victory, he should be making time, like a shopping mall Father Christmas, to lift journalists on his lap one at a time and address benevolently and patiently all their questions.

Instead, he’s running from reporters like he owes them money. Journalists reported their frustration yesterday, having been allowed to wait for Robert Abela for one and a half hours at a late evening event they were called to cover minutes before it started. They were impatient to ask him questions as he had avoided them for 3 days.

These are not just any 3 days. They’re 3 days in a 33-day campaign, 10% of the entire election campaign during which Robert Abela had nearly a dozen speaking events announcing massive public expenditure and which he fully expected journalists to report.

They wouldn’t dare perhaps, but reporters on the campaign trail should consider advising Robert Abela’s handlers that unless he gave them an hour immediately and answer their questions however annoying, they’d stop chasing him around to cover his controlled photo opportunities.

The irony of this is that nothing would make Robert Abela’s handlers happier. They have their own cameras, their own TV stations (TVM and One), an apparently bottomless budget to buy space on social media. Who needs coverage on Newsbook and the Times and Malta Today and so on when that coverage comes with pointed questions and when they could communicate with the public on media they completely control?

It is clear to anyone with even a superficial interest in the campaign that Robert Abela is not taking questions about his personal financial shenanigans with any humour or patience whatsoever.

Let me be a cheap, counterfeit Stephen King. If you go back to the image of Robert Abela as a shopping mall Father Christmas with journalists on his lap, he’d turn vicious and ugly once they whispered their request in his ear. So better run from journalists than talk to them.

Robert Abela is winning an election and losing his grip on authority and power. He is marching to victory and tumbling to disgrace, all at the same time.

He’s at one of those Luis Buñuel dinners that look polite, pleasant, and charming. But the spoken words, such as they are, are a sheer gauze that cannot hide the rot beneath.

Can Robert Abela keep up his game of avoiding journalists for the remaining weeks of this campaign?

When Russian troops shower Europe’s largest nuclear power station with artillery fire, that sort of cliff-hanger question sounds like an ending from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.