The Malta Independent 22 February 2024, Thursday
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Ten years of Labour

Noel Grima Sunday, 12 March 2023, 06:49 Last update: about 13 months ago

This week we celebrated two very different anniversaries. On Tuesday we commemorated the 20 years since the people of this country chose to enter the European Union over the dire predictions of Alfred Sant and George Vella.

Then on Wednesday we commemorated the 10 years of life under a Labour government. In these 10 years we have had three elections, which Labour won massively. We have had two different prime ministers, with the latest one claiming to be the embodiment of continuity at the same time as distancing himself massively from his predecessor, as if he could do the two things together.

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For the truth is that things are starting to go sour on Labour. What used to be Labour’s boast has now begun to sound hollow.

I can give some examples.

For a while we had Labour boast it had reduced the cost of energy through a brand new power station run on gas. Now we find that were it not for the Interconnector from Sicily (brought by the PN government) we would be in darkness as we were recently when the Interconnector stalled.

We still rely on the ship anchored at Marsaxlokk to store gas and, whenever the wind is from the Southwest the ship has to be eased from the quay and stop working.

We had been told by the usual suspects in the weeks before the 2013 election that fuel procurement was mired in corruption. The main businessmen were hauled off to court and today their cases are nowhere concluded and these persons, all worthy representatives of the business community, are still under a cloud.

We have also found out mainly through Daphne Caruana Galizia that the choice of the partner for Enemalta was mired in corruption. Daphne was murdered and it would seem this allegation is what led to her murder.

The Nationalist administration may have been wrong to insist on heavy fuel oil when alternatives existed. But this Labour administration is plausibly as wrong to keep insisting on a gas-fired power station when alternatives exist.

Meanwhile there is said to be a contractual agreement which forces Enemalta to keep getting its fuel from Gasoil with its Maltese shareholders for a long time. When the electricity through the Interconnector is many times cheaper.

There is no doubt that the price of electricity is now cheaper and that is what many people worry about. There is no doubt either that the price has been kept low through government intervention.

In other words we may be paying lower bills but the State, that is ourselves too, is forking out the difference.

In recent days we have found out we had been paying a huge sum for the three hospitals we sold off without getting anything back, either in terms of new hospitals or in terms of an upgrade of a health system that is breaking down because, among other things, of the huge increase in the population of this country.

We know, don’t we, that this surge in population came about when we opened wide the country’s doors to all and sundry because, as we were told, the new entrants would pay for our pensions.

Many of those who came found employment in the construction industry which needed to build more and more buildings. So most controls went out the window; the Planning Authority was almost dismantled, and all this construction spurt, aided and abetted by a Nationalist administration afraid of losing votes, has turned all Malta and now Gozo as well into one huge building site.

The number of new residents has multiplied the number of cars on the roads and even though the Labour governments widened and straightened the roads and built new ones, this is nowhere enough for requirements.

We find ourselves running harder and getting nowhere.

Then of course we discover there are many people who have done well for themselves in these 10 years but more often than not they did so through their links to the Labour party. Though many, they by no means represent the totality of the Labour voters.

We are now discovering that more and more people have fallen below the poverty line and that there is an increasing number of children who have become homeless.

What looked bright and promising 10 years ago has now paled and has become rather tattered and discoloured. 10 years is a long time in politics. The Nationalists spent from 1987 to 2013 in power with a hiatus from 1996 to 1998 and at the end people grew so tired of them they booted them out. Labour supporters could be on the cusp of doing just that as anger at the rising prices of rent and disservice in the health sector jostle with the latest rumours about iced buns to the family that was pushed out of office.

The rest of the people have already given up on a government that promised meritocracy and is anything but. Or promised socialism but delivered a business-friendly government. The commemoration of the events of 10 years ago should warn us that public opinion changes and changes again. And that you cannot play around with people’s lives and get away with it.

 

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