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A political Christmas?

Practically every year people question whether the true meaning of Christmas has been lost, as it focuses less on the real reason for its being – the birth of Jesus Christ – and much more on shopping, more shopping and parties.

Even though the effect of this decline is much slower in Malta than it is in the rest of the world, as a significant number do still stop and at least think about the significance of what is a religious occasion, there is little doubt that it is sliding.

However, we face another phenomenon to which the rest of the world is perhaps much more immune: the involvement of politics during the course of the festive season.

Never wanting to miss an opportunity to get a firm foothold on the bandwagon, both the Nationalist and Labour parties beg for money in fundraising campaigns just before Christmas. This is distasteful to the extreme.

First, because of the economic climate. Labour tells us we have never been worse off and that darker clouds still await, while the current government is doing what it can to raise revenue from people’s taxes.

Given this background, they should be ashamed – though it is noted that shame has little place in politics – to be doing this.

Second, the timing. The Nationalist Party in particular, which presents itself as a party of principle when it suits its needs, is prepared to totally forget the real reason for Christmas as long as it can fill its coffers with people’s hard-earned money.

The third reason, however, is probably the most galling. There is only so much money to go round, whichmeans that because of the politicalparties’ fundraising campaigns thepeople in need get less than they should be receiving. Leaving aside the very well organised and marketed L-Istrina event tomorrow, which is a symbol of Maltese generosity, many smaller charities tend to suffer as they are overlooked.

Christmas is a time for giving. But that giving should be to the people who really need it, not to political parties. Unless people can truly afford to do both, they are failing society if they give financial backing to the party they support rather than to the needy.

Some politicians too, it seems, just do not know when to give it a rest. They should bear in mind that people do not always want to hear their voice, especially at Christmas time when they have other things on their mind.

Franco Debono should take note. The subject of whether the point he is making is justified can be dealt with on another occasion, but the fact that he chose to make that point on practically the eve of one of the biggest events on the Christian calendar cannot but reveal a sense of misjudgement on his part.

Offices have closed, Parliament is in recess and politicians the world over are taking a few days’ break. Whatever he had to say could have waited till the new year.

The public should not allowpolitical parties or politiciansto intrude at this time unless thereis an exceptional reason for doingso, and should in the best mannerpossible – by not giving themmoney or attention – make that crystal clear.

Happy Christmas.

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