If he was the king of an absolute monarchy, the optics would be bad. If he was an oil sheik who both owns and runs a country, a princeling of a tax-dodging microstate, a colonel of a tinpot junta in Central America, a drug lord holding court in downtown Medellin, Robert Abela’s behaviour this week would have been a problem.
The delicious irony of that hollow slogan “Robert Abela Qalb in-Nies” as he showed off his soi disant fruits-of-his-labour was not lost on many social media commenters.
A 20-year-old lad who has voted Robert Abela into government the one time in his life when he was enfranchised, dies in a construction incident 10 minutes into his work day. His death is caused by the visceral greed of the capitalists who employed him. The capitalists who employed him are connected to a government that works to protect them and make sure they can roam even on land that belongs to the public. The government neglects to protect the life of the labourer and ignores calls for an inquiry so that new rules can be written to restrain the capitalists and protect the workers from being placed in life-threatening and unnecessary risk.
This is betrayal on so many levels. It betrays the victim directly who placed his trust in a political movement he expected to take his side not the side of his abusive, murderous employers against him. It betrays all those voiceless labourers perched on heights and marched in the shade of creaky buildings who expected a government which works for them would make sure they’re safe, finding instead the government is looking away. It betrays the public who thought they were living in a democracy but have now taken the red pill and seen this country for what it is: a desert ruled by a handful of greedy bastards for whom laws are optional.
Robert Abela looked away as Jean Paul Sofia’s family shouted their grief from the gallery in Parliament. He lifted his chin as they waited for him to emerge from the Parliament building. He had no words for them. He had just ordered Parliament to give public land to the Fortina owners after they had stolen it, sealing the way things work in Malta for you if you bank roll the Labour Party. You take what you want and then Robert Abela will get Parliament to give it to you.
On the same day Robert Abela ordered Parliament to deny Jean Paul Sofia’s family a far more modest request. They weren’t asking for public land. They did not illegally take a portion of the sea and they did not demand to have their robbery sanctioned. All they wanted was the truth about the death of their son. But their son did not own hotels. He only voted for the Labour Party, he didn’t fund it.
That night Robert Abela hosted a party in Girgenti, a concert to reward himself for his achievements of the day. Give favourite millionaires public land they have already stolen? Check. Deny the family of a labourer an inquiry into why he was killed by a creaky building on public land given to criminals? Check again.
Then there he was yesterday leaving the country he’s supposed to run on a 50-foot boat. He sat on the flybridge, his white baseball cap turned around like an early Spike Lee gangsta.
Robert Abela is his own PR advisor and it shows. There was a time when socialism was the politics of envy: a time when elites mobilised working classes in a class struggle against people whose wealth they desired and resented for not being theirs.
Things are on their head now. The cynical contempt of the leadership of the Labour Party mocks its supporters with wealth, unearned, unexplained, except by the same murderous friendships with the magnates who fund their party. The Labour Party is the party of the rich, siding with those who pay them against those who vote for them. They continue to rely on disciples who were born supporting the Labour Party but never remembered why that started. Out they come on Facebook congratulating the prime minister for his “well deserved” holiday on a boat they would never afford. They cheer him on as he sails away leaving nothing for them but the smell of diesel and the methane from his excessive appetite.
That wrong way round baseball cap might as well have been a nineteenth century Versailles wig, grotesquely curled, blindingly powdered, a head dress worn by the utterly unjustified self-confidence of a dying regime, utterly out of touch with reality.
Robert Abela is a perfect combination of clueless and callous. He’s also cold, cadaverous, cut off, and checked out. When they said “Robert Abela Qalb in-Nies” they never specified which nies. They didn’t mean Jean Paul Sofia. Or you.