Put ethics back into politics
When Carm Mifsud Bonnici was axed by a parliamentary motion earlier this month, I wrote a piece in this column entitled Dangerous Brand Of Politics. The title is enough to remind you of the drift of my argument.
Now, our House of Representatives has gone one worse. It axed someone who is not even a member of the House on trumped-up charges of treason in a pseudo-trial that failed even the most basic tenets of natural justice.
I do not need to sing the praises of Richard Cachia Caruana. He does not need it and a lot of ink has flowed in that direction. I will just say that I share the concern of those who feel that the country will gain nothing from his departure. Quite the opposite, really. We stand to lose. And this is one area where we cannot afford to lose, especially at this particular juncture in Europe.
Our country has done extremely well in the first eight years of EU membership. But this does not mean that it was all a coincidence or that it will always be that way. After last week, it will be decidedly more difficult to keep it that way.
I hope that all those who supported the motion realise that this will ultimately hurt all of us rather more than it will hurt its intended target. What is sure is that this motion crystallised a dangerous new brand of politics that is now staring us all in the face.
I call it dangerous because it fails the test of reason and the common good. Because it is a kind of politics where the end justifies the means. Where might is right. Where envy is encouraged. Where people are disposable. Where party comes before country. Where power is an end in itself. Where opportunism prevails over righteousness.
Last week’s motion had pretty much all these ingredients that I just listed. That is why it was a case of dangerous politics.
Why are we here? We are here because of two reasons.
The first is that the Nationalist Party is divided. And it is high time that we come clean on this one. People are loathe to trust a party in government if it is unable to stand united. So unless unity is restored, the party is in for a rough ride. That would be a pity because the second reason why we are here is even more grave.
The second reason is that the Labour Party unfortunately lacks a basic sense of ethics that is required for politics and that is a pre-requisite for anyone to be trusted with power.
The absence of a basic sense of ethics has led the PL to throw reason and moderation straight out of the window on countless occasions. Be it on democracy 30 years ago, be it on Europe 19 years ago, be it on the euro four years ago, be it on the parliamentary motions this month.
All the while, the PL calls itself a moderate party. I have to admit that I expected better from Joseph Muscat.
I thought that his four-year stint in the European Parliament would have given him the necessary training to inject his party – and the entire political system – with a fresh verve that would construct politics on reason, on bridge-building and on cooperation. After all, the European Parliament, where no single party enjoys a majority, is a tough training ground for compromise-building among very different political views.
I was wrong.
Unfortunately, far from refreshing the local political scene, Dr Muscat has allowed himself to be poisoned by it. This explains why, under his watch, the Labour media remains an incredibly vicious venom-machine. It explains why Dr Muscat constantly panders to expired Dom Mintoff stalwarts and pushes them to the fore. It explains why his decisions often betray a keener interest for his party’s trajectory to power than for the country. It explains why Labour is basing its campaign on attacking individuals and on village politics rather than on coming up with policies and solutions.
This is parochial politics rather like Sali Berlisha’s and Eddie Rama’s Albania.
It is politics built on personal attacks, which Europe has been trying to eradicate but which Labour continues to embrace.
Politics should not be like this. Politics should be about serving with a sense of ethics, with loyalty and integrity and it is about pursuing goals based on reason and on cooperation.
Last week, we saw anything but.
It is time to put ethics back into politics.
Dr Busuttil is a Nationalist member of the European Parliament.