The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Rancid state of politics

Peter Agius Wednesday, 30 December 2020, 08:00 Last update: about 23 days ago

As the year comes to an end it is a good time to take stock of the state of Maltese politics.

This time last year we were at the ebb of ebbs, with Joseph Muscat lingering on as Prime Minister following the outrageous details of his office's alleged role in absconding and deviating the investigations into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. One year on, fresh faces are on the block, but is their demeanour any better or are they infected with the same rancid politics of their master?

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The news over the last few days does not augur much for renewal. Sticking to just the last weeks we have a parliamentary secretary allegedely pocketing thousands of undeclared cash from an alleged criminal mastermind, a Prime Minister abusing his office to instigate action against the Leader of the Opposition and a Minister playing an odious political flute on the murder of Karin Grech.

I have sometimes wondered how our country would fare if politics really attracted the best among us. In my professional contacts as well as in my adventures as a candidate for the PN in the European elections I came across a good number of leaders in their own fields, people with vision and the talent to see it through. Comparisons are unfair, but I guess many would concord that there is much more management and policy experience and know how in our industries, in the consultancies and in the thousands of SMEs on the islands than there is in our cabinet.

While inexperience and fresh eyes have their merit, this would still beg the question as to why politics does not attract more talent in Malta. I myself do ask the question directly to a few people I meet from time to time. The most common answers I get is that 'Maltese politics is dirty' and 'I want to keep my privacy'.

You can't really blame our top notch professionals for wanting to stay out of politics to protect their privacy when they hear how the Prime Minister has allegedly tried to manipulate decisions on the tax affairs of the leader of the Nationalist Party Bernard Grech. In any other era. In any other country, we would be flabbergasted at the news. With Abela however, this did not surprise. All his actions speak of a leader of a political party intent at taking political mileage from every single event, without any consideration at all for ethics, legal or political correctness or the national interest. Seems to me that Abela does not take note yet that he is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta, and thus endowed with roles and duties to the country and the nation, and not just to mile end.

Then on the odd days when they need to use the card, they will make impassionate calls for 'national unity'. So was Abela's tone round Christmas, oh how sweet and fitting it would be if we work together as a country putting all the differences behind us... only to wait til boxing day and pose with the Covid-19 vaccine arrival all by himself, attempting to take the credit for Malta's participation in the European Union's joint pharmaceuticals acquisition when this is a direct outcome of the Nationalist Party's achievements. Inviting the opposition to the event? It did not even cross their mind. They lead a party not a nation.

Indeed, it seems that their best way of leading their party is to play the division card over and over again. We saw that all too clearly in the statement by Minister Clayton Bartolo in reference to the commemoration of the murder of Karin Grech. The honourable Minister wanted to make a political point in his tweet, pointing out that Karin Grech's was the 'only' political murder in Malta. Typing mistake or fodder for division? Bartolo's is no mistake but a pointer to Labour's strategy of polarising the Maltese into camps. Once the polarisation is strong enough you can run roughshod over the matter as anything said in your regard will be seen as part of the ploy of the 'haters'. Such is the success of this strategy that the Labour Party voters trusted Konrad Mizzi with over 5000 first preference votes in the last election.

The same divide and rule strategy will be used across the board, including and especially in all the misdemeanor and corruption of cabinet members past and future. So oiled is the machine that once news of Rosianne Cutajar's alleged undeclared 39,000 euro came to the fore, the labour social media bubble immediately reacted with counter balancing allegations involving PN actors.

In this polarised world they built, where all sins should be forgotten if matched with other sins on the other side, the good willing and law-observing are to be lost in the limbo in between. Worse still, instead of attracting the talented to lead us, we remain stuck with the mediocre actors who would be good-for-nothings were it not for their mastery to sow the seeds of division for their nettles to prosper.

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