The Malta Independent 16 December 2018, Sunday

The Right approach

Noel Grima Sunday, 23 September 2018, 10:44 Last update: about 4 months ago

I am completely astonished that we do not seem to realise what a huge gap there is on our political scene – the Right is absent from it.

The two political parties say or hint that they are on the Left, as do the minor parties on the fringe. And yet the Right is advancing everywhere in Europe, except here.

The absence of an official Right in Malta does not mean the Right does not exist in so many forms. It does, and that is what makes the absence of an official Right all the more incomprehensible.

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Let us analyze the marks of the Right.

First of all, the Right is nationalist. This is what is pitting so many countries or parties/governments against the EU – they give precedence to what is national against what is supranational.

In Malta, uniquely in Europe, the two main parties are heavily pro-EU. From the Brexiteers to the Hungarian or Slovak nationalists, to the eurosceptics in France and Italy, the peoples of Europe do subscribe to the ideal of Europe but not perhaps to how the Europe ideal has been translated into the EU.

On a daily basis we are bombarded by pro-EU propaganda, especially in this pre-electoral period, but we fail to see the EU’s greatest failures. Failures such as the economic one, with all the pain that countries such as Greece, and its people have been made to endure as a punishment for what at core was the failure of international banks, mainly German, who lent and lent again when there was no basis for them to do so.

After so many years of pain, austerity, unemployment and the forced emigration of young people, the economies of Europe are coming out of the crisis but they are doing so years late, and without any guarantees that the crisis will not come back again.

Economic reforms have been carried out piecemeal, almost haphazardly, and the most important and necessary reforms have not been carried out at all, mostly because of opposition by one or another EU member state. The EU, whatever some may say, is supranational: it is still ruled by nation states.

The other nations that have come out of austerity – Spain, Ireland, Portugal, etc – endured terrible suffering to do so. Italy is the worst of all: growth has been missing for decades.

The more these people have suffered, the angrier and the more anti-EU they have become. It is time to pull down the superstructure that has been allowed to be built and return to basics.

Many might argue that, since Malta has been experiencing unprecedented growth, there is no reason for it to turn Eurosceptic. But a careful look at the reasons for this growth shows us that it has been brought about by the addition of more people to the workforce, be they women or migrants.

And here we come to the real reason why the Right is so needed. On a daily basis we see more and more people flooding in and obtaining work at cheap labour rates. They have turned whole areas of Malta into sources of cheap labour, and have crammed themselves into cheap accommodation in order to reduce expenses.

Many of them should not be here – many have just an Italian piece of paper – but no government has been serious about tackling this. Certainly, this government is not, and neither or is the Opposition, for all its posturing: had it been serious, we would not have reached this point.

The non-existent Right has had no chance of getting its voice heard. What has been heard has been the voice of xenophobia, or racists, and suchlike.

But without being racist and without being xenophobic, many Maltese are deeply concerned that things are not right – and they have no means of making their voices heard.

Had it still existed, the Right would have had a lot to say. Here it’s all ‘Hail fellow, well met’, but other people are insisting on, for example, limiting migrant presence to a certain proportion only, to avoid some areas becoming swamped. Other countries, I believe the UK is one, have rules whereby any migrant who is found guilty of a crime four times in a row is automatically deported. Does it make you racist to have such rules?

The Right is nationalist. Other countries would never dream of making citizenship an automatic process or one based on the payment of a sum of money. Citizenship is a treasure, the granting of which cannot be automatic but based on ensuring the sharing of common ideals, if not more than at least a slight knowledge of the nation’s language, history and culture.

In some other countries where the Right has not had a chance to govern, the national spirit has been weakened. Think of Britain, for instance, where even Christmas has been put aside in some schools so as not to offend the other faiths, whereas in Bavaria, crosses have been placed on all public buildings.

One would think that, here in Malta, with all its churches, festas and holidays, the national spirit is still strong, but we who live here know that the foundations are being shaken.

The Right would not have calculated matters in terms of votes and would have been totally against those legislative changes that have made Malta climb up to the top of the world ratings on drugs, permissiveness, the composition of a family and so on. Maybe these changes would have still come about, but at least the Right would have made its voice heard.

One realises, of course, how difficult it is to translate all this into a political platform and party. But still, small beginnings may have a bright future. As it is, the Labour government is a massive monolithic presence but even it can reach the point of not having any more to offer.

The Nationalist Party is split and lacks ideas and spirit. There are people who are trying to get one part of it to emerge triumphant but, to me at least, this is all a waste of breath and time. No-one who was somehow involved in the last PN government is electable: the people won’t have it.

Only a new Right, with new people and keeping its principles safe, can make a change, if not in the next general election, then in the one after that.

 

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