For my sins, which must be many, I wasted a perfectly good Friday evening watching Xarabank. Truth be told, it was not as mediocre as usual (not that I’ve watched it much over the years, actually hardly at all) though the audience was down to its usual standards of hooting and hollering loutishness.
My interest in watching had been piqued by the prospect of the Yana Mintoff Bland person appearing to defend the family’s interests, but like a true chip off the old block, she ducked out. Pity, it would have been interesting to see if she had a) learnt to speak Maltese any better and b) done any research about her father’s political legacy, shameful as it is. We got a clip of her weirdness, but it was not nearly enough, star candidate that she is.
Instead, we got Drs Deo Debattista (another star candidate?) Wenzu Mintoff and Toni Abela on the Labour side, presumably to do what the Mintoff Bland woman should have done, and Drs Beppe Fenech Adami and Francis Zammit Dimech on the PN side, clearly primed to thrust a few telling arrows into the heart of Mintoff’s myth as propagated by Labour.
And extremely successful they were too, because they demolished both the myth (that in itself not a difficult task) and the defenders of the myth.
Dr Debattista, who I am sure is an excellent physician, should really stick to what he knows. His sarcastic brand of discourse, for all that I love that style, went down like a lead zeppelin (and was much less fun to listen to) with his crack about the PN clinging onto power being particularly empty, given that they were talking about Mintoff. 1981 anyone?
And he went on to make a few more funnies, though perhaps less than deliberately, when he let it be known that Mintoff had created the middle class (don’t even ask me what that means) and that the current structure of the University is a result of Mintoff’s efforts. Well, in the latter case, he might be right, but only in the same way that someone saying that we’re in the EU because of Mintoff would be right.
Dr Mintoff need hardly have joined this particular shindig. For most of the proceedings, he sat there looking bored and when he did say something, he tended to wander hither and yonder – because I know some history, I could see what he was getting at, but a Led Zep song sprang to mind (“Ramble On”, in case you’re interested)
Most of the effort on Labour’s side was put in, you won’t be surprised to hear (I’m assuming you had more sense than I and didn’t watch, thereby saving yourself the ire of your better half) by Dr Toni Abela, who as always seemed to be having a paroxysms of joy at the sound of his own voice. Perhaps he should have put a sock in it, though, with his continual, snide-sounding, “stop acting” jibes whenever Fenech Adami and Zammit Dimech made points about which they clearly, and quite rightly, felt strongly.
The PN representatives were, not to put too fine a point on it, excellent. They restricted themselves to the topic, which was the Mintoff years (specifically the Seventies and Eighties) and put up a cogent case that Mintoff, for all the good he is said to have done, was a malign influence on the country.
Predictably, the main argument brought against them (ironically by two, out of the three, on the Labour side who had left the party during Mintoff’s reign) was that the PN was always looking back (and then we promptly got diatribes from all three Labourites about the Sixties, the Fifties and, for Pete’s sake, the Thirties) The supreme irony, that Joseph Muscat seems to be positioning himself as Mintoff’s obvious successor, seemed to escape them in their frenzy to deny their party’s past.
Another argument was floated by Abela and to his credit he managed it without breaking into a sheepish grin. This was the one that goes, yes, that (whatever that was, say a political murder) was bad but you know, the fact that the Nationalists didn’t do anything about it was worse. Follow the logic: failing to solve a crime is worse than committing it, even if you’re trying to solve a crime that had been contaminated by a cynical frame-up of an innocent person. He used this argument about most of the barbs directed towards the Mintoff fan-club, proving beyond reasonable doubt that there are no arguments that can be made in the face of the truth about that man.
And there you have it, a Friday evening spent watching three pathetic defences of the indefensible.
The only positive was that the two prosecutors were on their mettle and put Mintoff’s memory to the sword decisively, which is scant consolation for the fact that I’m in the doghouse for insisting, somewhat vehemently, on silence while I watched.