Bernard Grech was spot on yesterday. The 10th anniversary of Labour’s coming to power marks a decade where the basic rules of conduct in government were systemically ignored and where politics stopped being a process of driving change in the interest of the public good and became instead a process of serving the interests of a short list of thugs in politics and out of it.
The Labour Party in response said Bernard Grech was “partisan” which given he is the leader of the opposition party is exactly what he’s supposed to be. You can criticise a judge or a Parliamentary speaker or a President or a police chief or a public broadcasting reporter of being “partisan” because they’re expected not to be. But when you expect ambivalence and neutrality from the public official whose job it is to call you out you have done more than lost the plot. You have started worshiping on the altar of the cult you created.
“A lot of good has been done,” was the Labour Party’s puerile response. To what? If anyone brings up again the fact that there’s free pre-school childcare like that’s enough to earn one’s place in government for 15 years, I’ll slap them and send them to pre-school nursery to learn the basics again.
There’s a litmus test that helps illustrate the state of politics 10 years into the Muscat-Abela regime. I call it the Lawrence Gonzi test.
In 2013 the Labour Party defeated Lawrence Gonzi’s PN after 9 years during which the Labour opposition campaigned to convince the public that he and his government were a darkness only the shining light of Alfred Sant and Joseph Muscat could free us from.
I could ask you if you remember the name of Lawrence Gonzi’s chief of staff. I do because I knew him but you don’t because he didn’t set up a Panama company with paperwork that shows he was going to receive millions from a contractor and was eventually tried for bribery and corruption in a case that saw him spend two weeks in Kordin waiting for bail before it could be heard.
I could ask you to imagine if Lawrence Gonzi privatised some public utility – I don’t know, shall we say three hospitals? – in a process that was ruled by a court to be fraudulent and unlawful.
But I’ll just ask you to imagine Lawrence Gonzi organising a fully expensed SUV for Mary Fenech Adami when he took office to replace his predecessor. Do you remember the fuss that was made when upon taking office as prime minister Lawrence Gonzi nominated his predecessor to take over as President of Malta for 5 years? That was a job, forced upon Eddie and Mary Fenech Adami when they fully expected to enjoy their retirement. And Labour screamed blue murder at the time.
Can you imagine what Labour would do if Kate Gonzi got a Range Rover as a good bye gift from the state because her husband was no longer prime minister?
Of all the things they’ve done Michelle Muscat’s car is, in value, far from the worst thing. But it’s something people should understand. Nobody’s wife (or husband) ever got a fully expensed car when they have been fired from their job. There’s no job in the public sector or the private sector where that happens.
Can you imagine what you would think if Lawrence Gonzi, years after leaving office, was discovered receiving payments from a contractor he hired or had dealt with when he had been prime minister? Can you imagine if he received monthly payments from Skanska, or, if you like, Arriva?
Well, Joseph Muscat received money from Vitals, the people a judge called fraudsters that could only receive the bounty they got from Malta’s government because the Maltese government must have been pathologically naive. Yeah right. Naivety is Joseph Muscat’s problem.
Can you imagine Lawrence Gonzi publicly urging a magistrate to wrap up a wrongful death inquiry that may have implications on state failures or misconduct? That’s what Robert Abela is doing.
Can you imagine Lawrence Gonzi introducing and pushing through Parliament legislation that takes powers away from Parliament to give those powers to him? That’s what Robert Abela has done.
Can you imagine Lawrence Gonzi renting out property he should not afford to faceless Russians to help them get Maltese citizenship? That’s what Robert Abela has done.
Can you imagine Lawrence Gonzi, while still in office, developing property he should not afford into luxury boutique hotels? That’s what Robert Abela is doing.
Is this the price for free pre-school child-care? Are we not entitled to look forward to prime ministers that do the job for the public in the interest of the public rather than their own?
Bernard Grech yesterday recalled the great white promises of the Labour Party on the eve of the 2013 election.
He recalled “Malta tagħna lkoll” which was never a slogan we thought we’d hear Christian Kaelin, Ram Tumuluri, Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, and Turab Musayev sing to, like those half-mocking North Korean choristers singing “Ma tagħmlu xejn mal-Perit Mintoff”.
He recalled the meritocracy promise. Joseph Muscat used to drum the motto that “tista’ ma taqbilx magħna u xorta taħdem magħna,” which must still have a shred of irony that keeps warm all those people, even from inside the Labour Party, left out in the cold for not paying obeisance to the god du jour, Muscat or Abela.
But perhaps, even more starkly than Bernard Grech, the last 10 years have been summed up by that erstwhile Labour Party ideologue and supporter, Desmond Zammit Marmarà. His summary was as simple as it was succinct: the last 10 years have been a “great betrayal”, an act of treason therefore, where the country, its people, and their interests have been sold in exchange of the unexplained wealth of the Muscats and the Abelas.
The two pairs are rivals, grappling for control of their cartel, grasping and vaunting the proceeds of its crimes. They are the cheap drama of our lives that benefits no one but them and entertains even less people than that.
They are our last 10 years, the dream that plays inside our heads every waking and every sleeping hour. Normally politics would be about hopes for improved policies and higher quality of administration.
These four have reduced it to a simple aspiration: that we can live without their crassness spewed in our sight like the projectile vomit of their dizzying excess.