The Malta Independent 4 August 2021, Wednesday

Message(s) from the ground

Peter Agius Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 07:29 Last update: about 3 months ago

As the silly season slowly takes over and people follow the Euro 2020 football pitch more than the political arena, I grasped the opportunity of the subsiding pandemic to make a few home visits in our villages. The messages coming from our households are varied.

One family I visited in Birkirkara expressed their frustration that those in charge indulge in continuing spirals of abuse and corruption without so much as a reprimand or consequence. Their feelings are expressed, in different ways, in many other households.

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One shop owner in Żebbuġ held the view that the continuing cases of graft and corruption reveal that politicians enter the fray with the malicious intent of abusing power to divert public money and personal favours for their inner circle. He was furious at the news that former PM Joseph Muscat pocketed 120,000 euros as a departure gift from Abela after leaving the job with the title of the most corrupt politician in Europe. He does not want to endorse any of that. To his mind, no one really cares about his business and his family. He has little hope that things can change. He is intent on simply not voting in the next election.

In another home I visited close to the said shop owner, one gentleman expressed his anger at the government’s disdain to good governance. In his view, the current state of affairs is a serious threat to our democracy and all our achievements as a nation. He wants to see a consolidation of all voices of good will in the country to pull their weight in the fight for good governance, for the sake of his nephews and others in the upcoming generation.

All of the households mentioned above would, in principle, need to unite their resolve by supporting one alternative way of doing things in this country. That is yet taking its time to consolidate under one narrative which represents all voices in one bold chorus.

The reasons for this are as varied as is the PN electorate. To begin with, while the labour party in government has a large section of followers who treat party loyalty as akin to the unwaivering support of a football team and derive their messages only from a few ‘trusted’ sources such as One Tv, the Nationalist Party’s electorate largely considers the party as a subject of regular scrutiny. Non-Labour voters also tend to undertake their scrutiny of public affairs through several influencers which tend to judge the PN through their own indepenent or partisan agenda. So while a labour voter would generally tend to follow Robert Abela through Super 1 radio and TV or TVM news, a nationalist party voter would more likely follow Bernard Grech through the lenses of TVM, which would put him as a fifth priority in news coverage, The Malta Independent, the Times or any of the other portals who, to put it simply, are ‘not owned’ by the opposition.    

Leaving deeper analysis of message delivery to another setting, and back to the point on a wide narrative grouping all the opposition forces, the challenge for the PN is, to my mind, that of merging all possible narratives through concrete actions. We must, first and foremost keep in mind that any effective narrative must answer the golden question of Maltese politics: ‘What’s in it for me?’

A few weeks back we had a clear example how concrete action can strike the right chords in bringing people together. We have known for years now that all of labour’s efforts to implant that steel and gas behemot in Marsaxlokk Bay was a ploy to feed the golems moulded before its election in 2013.

Panama Papers, E-grant, 17 Black and the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia all tie in one massive national heist to steal public money and divert it into private pockets of a few criminals flying the labour flag.

Outrageous as it is however, this did not provoke enough public anger before people realised that their own utility bills were suffering the direct consequence of such plans. The PN’s initiative to invite hundreds to its headquarteres to determine the amounts stolen from every utility bill and to reimburse all of that once in government gave the quest for justice a concrete self-interested dimension. Justice is no longer an abstract concept - It is now a matter affecting my current account balance.

Suddenly, the criticism of all the labour sleaze covering for corruption takes the shape of a thousand euros cheque to reimburse you for the corruption surcharge. That is a narrative everyone on these islands can support. We want your corruption money back!

Peter Agius, MEP candidate

[email protected]

 

 

 

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