For 10 years Joseph Muscat worked on the assumption people would not care about their politicians’ corruption as long as the going was good.
You see, here’s how Alfred Sant’s logic on The Sunday Times is upside down. In his effort to excuse his party, on which, incredibly, he still depends to keep his job in Brussels, he explained corruption away, now that he can no longer deny it exists, as a side effect, an inevitable consequence of the great economic success of the last 10 years. Sant is consciously confusing causation with correlation.
Corrupt politicians can solicit bribes in hard times as much as in times of plenty. Scarcity raises prices, including the price of bribes. Growth doesn’t in and of itself breed corruption. The greedy intent of the bribees and the willingness of the bribers to exploit that for their illicit profit is what breeds corruption. It is the unforgivable error of the dyed in the wool Marxist to assume that people have no agency, that all that happens is a consequence of invisible hands shuffling them around.
Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, and Konrad Mizzi did not grow into gang warfare from tough neighbourhoods which taught them no better. They did not (do I still need to say allegedly?) solicit bribes from Vitals or from the owners of Electrogas because of invisible economic forces. They did that because if they had an ethical cell left in their body they allowed the rest of their being to gang rape it into silence.
Joseph Muscat’s cynicism was so grotesque that he worked on the openly professed assumption that people would admire his corruption, and for a while there it looked like he might have been right. How could people vote for the partitioning of Malta’s health service, the brutalisation of the environment, the whoring of Malta’s citizenship, the colonisation of Malta by crass and greedy oil-rich and oil-stained Aliyevs, we asked?
How could even Alfred Sant, the last socialist virgin, support that? Was it because of great historical forces that silenced him?
People did not support Joseph Muscat through the serial revelations of his crimes because they liked what he was doing. It was because they didn’t believe he was doing it.
For years Labour propaganda convinced even smart people that whatever opponents to Joseph Muscat said was not borne of truth but borne of envy, of hatred, of tribal prejudice. It wasn’t just that Labour propaganda convinced Labour Party supporters that Labour could do no wrong. Labour propaganda had poured hemlock in the ears of their zombified supporters all through the years of Dom Mintoff, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, and Alfred Sant. Convincing Labourites only Labour is good was never enough to win elections for the Labour Party.
They needed to convince sensible people without political affiliation, or people affiliated to the PN out of conviction that was the only way they could live the good life, that Labour was better.
And, to stay in power, Labour needed to convince them that there was no corruption even if the cartoon greenbacks were falling out of their stuffed pockets and they couldn’t wipe the grime from their lips fast enough for the selfies.
Malta Today’s survey today bucks the trend. It is, therefore, by definition, too early to say if it’s the beginning of a trend and the beginning of the end of 15 years of Labour polling at ridiculous margins ahead of its only material rival. Next month things could return to normal. Individual surveys are only informative and predictive 24 hours before a general election. Statistical snapshots are as useful as taking a head x-ray to see how angry someone is. Trends matter and one survey does not a trend make.
But today’s Malta Today’s survey brings the nose of the PN within smelling distance of the PL’s arse. That tells us a few things that too many people refused to believe before now. I’m volunteering a list:
- People don’t like corruption and people will not, in response to a survey, say they support a government that is guilty of it.
- What people may not believe in the reporting of a journalist, or the campaigns of a civil society organisation, or the statements of a political party, they are prepared to believe if spoken by a judge.
- It is not true that people will not reward a political party that campaigns against corruption.
- If you separate the campaigns of hatred, conducted first by the Labour Party alone and for some time in coordination with the Nationalist Party, against Daphne Caruana Galizia from the facts that she revealed, people, even people who have voted for the Labour Party, will condemn the corrupt people whom she exposed.
- The Labour Party’s grip on the public’s support is not eternal, not unconditional, not invincible.
Now let me speak of trends.
While some gave up on campaigning on corruption because they accepted Joseph Muscat’s dogma that people liked it, some of us fought relentlessly opening battle fronts and digging trenches that might still prove to be determining theatres of the war against corruption.
And some of us worked hard in lobbies and in court rooms to slow Labour’s onslaught on the institutions forcing changes where the government least wanted them to happen, particularly with respect to the independence of the judiciary.
Protecting institutions from government intrusion is not an end of itself. We then asked the institutions to do work the government is keen for them not to do. There’s the Panama Papers inquiry, the 17 Black inquiry, the Electrogas lawsuit, the Vitals/Steward inquiry, the Pilatus Bank challenge, and on and on.
Have you noticed how vicious Robert Abela’s bullying of the judiciary, particularly the magistrature, has been these last few weeks?
Have you noticed how pliant Angelo Gafà has been with his masters while his underlings have been resigning en masse?
Have you noticed how implacably they have defended Victoria Buttigieg through her blunders, accidental or otherwise?
They know and we know and you should know we’re coming up on crunch time. These next two years the edifice of corruption, from the top of which Robert Abela and his cronies threw rotten vegetables down at us, will collapse. They’ll be brought down to our level and we’ll be speaking on equal terms.
And after all is said and done, when people ask us why this corrupt regime fell, the answer will be the same we’ve given when nobody was listening. It’s the answer we gave for more than half of the last decade, because for the first half we relied on Daphne to say it for us: it’s the corruption, stupid.