Labour’s opportunism and political hype
Grinning like a Cheshire cat after the Labour Party successfully brought down a minister and an ambassador, with the help of three disgruntled Nationalist MPs, Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat may think that the Premiership is already in his pocket. He and his colleagues in the party, which they once loved to call socialist but which they now want to rehabilitate by constantly referring to it as a movement, may well feel it is next to impossible now to wrench victory away from them when the Nationalist Party is in such disarray.
But what seems to be impossible at this point in time may well turn out to be quite possible, the more so if, despite all that has happened over the past weeks, the Labour Party remains as unconvincing as its leader is projecting it to be.
True, the knock the Nationalists have received through the political unbecoming behaviour of three of its MPs is hard and may even translate in loss of votes. However, the crude manner in which they have acted and the equally crude way the Labour Party used them in its bid to trip up the government may very well have a diametrically opposite effect to that which the Labour Party believes.
In other words, the uncommitted voters – ultimately that segment of the electorate that truly decides which of the two parties is going to make it to Castille – may well read through the sheer political opportunism displayed by the party and the politically selfish manner in which the three Nationalist MPs acted and back the party that has shown that it can well steer the island’s economy in the right direction.
Today’s Labour – insofar as it can be called “today’s”, considering the number of veteran members who formed part of the socialist movement that had done so much damage to the island’s social and economic fabric – have nothing to show for their leader’s hype about their presumed ability to solve all of Malta’s economic problems.
On the contrary, the more they talk about what they plan to do, the more they show how flimsy their ideas are. Take, for instance, Dr Muscat’s commitment that a Labour Party in government would not raise the retirement age. Never mind his remark that he does not believe the Nationalist Party when it says that it, too, would not raise the retirement age if re-elected. What jars is his absolute statement that economic growth, coupled with increased female workforce participation, would make raising the retirement age unnecessary.
He speaks here as if he has the secret to ensuring economic growth and increased worker participation when, in fact, it looks like the party only has airy-fairy ideas to offer.
Why should the electorate take his word for it? Does the party know of a formula that guarantees growth that all the rest of the European countries are unaware of?
This is now getting a bit hilarious. In fact, considering all the recommendations that have been made for Malta to ensure the sustainability of its pensions system, even the government would have to fully explain the stand it is now taking against the recommendation made by the European Commission to raise the retirement age further.
Dr Muscat told his audience last Sunday that the next government would face some of this country’s greatest-ever economic and social challenges. Facing up to those challenges, he said, would require a united population, working together. What is stopping the Labour leader from promoting such a spirit of cooperation right now?