After a series of court cases, we’ve been reminded how in the 1970s the Labour government stole private properties officially intended for a “public purpose” such as social housing only to hand over those properties to the Labour Party. At first the properties were used as political clubs. Now they’re bars and restaurants that profit the Labour Party while the owners have to sue the Labour government to be given token compensation.
The swindle feels baroque and there’s some comfort in the fact that it started in the 1970s, beyond the memory of even someone as old as I am.
We often forget how this is the template of the Labour Party’s way of functioning.
Consider yesterday’s speech by Robert Abela at the so-called “freedom” memorial in Birgu. It was a Labour Party gathering for Labour Party supporters. The Labour leader is going through a tough time right now. His party supporters are generally annoyed at their party’s leadership.
Some are unhappy that it turned out that the Labour government had participated in and enabled the fraud of the hospitals privatisation and feel humiliated by the court decision that spelt that out. Labour supporters don’t like it when their political enemies are proven right.
Some are unhappy with the Labour leadership because they perceive its defence of Joseph Muscat’s government as lackadaisical and may very well be on the path of greater embarrassments for the Labour movement.
Some are frankly disgusted that Rosianne Cutajar has said that “everyone pigs out” testifying to the fact that while normal people struggle with the rising cost of living the inner circle of the Labour leadership is free to give itself salaries for jobs not done.
Some are unhappy because with all his faults Joseph Muscat won elections but his successor is a far less certain bet.
To all these unhappy people, displeased with him for contradictory reasons, Robert Abela needed to give an excuse to cheer him. He needed to find the right bouquet of flowers and the right chocolate box to soothe his irate support base. Robert Abela had nothing to offer them.
So, the leader of the Labour Party did what any leader of the Labour Party would do. He decided to rob the people of Malta in order to buy his way out of the unhappiness of his party’s support base.
Just days ago, the finance minister was saying that we needed to be disciplined with public expenditure. And here we are, in the middle of a budget year, without any form of context, any costing, any fit in a wider economic context, and Robert Abela announces at a Labour Party event that he’ll be raising student stipends and children’s allowances.
How do you criticise that without antagonising students and parents? That’s exactly the challenge Robert Abela wants to put to his detractors.
Who says no to more money?
It’s not more money that we should be saying no to. We should be saying no to being treated like infants, distracted from our parents’ faults by shiny trinkets. We should say no to the irresponsible use of tax money in order to help address Robert Abela’s problems on his home turf.
Consider that the problems of Robert Abela can only get worse over the coming months and years. And, as he sees it, you’ll need to pay for that.