When the soup hits the fan
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, American Pastoral, Philip Roth had written that, in the American corporate world, only two qualities were necessary: a perpetual smile and unremitting energy. Our Prime Minister would fit perfectly in that environment as he is always smiling – even when he has nothing to smile about – and, of late, seems to be omnipresent round the clock, exhibiting vitality and showing us that his survival skills are quite something. Bless him.
But are these qualities enough to make good politics and run a country well? Not quite.
The Prime Minister has a smile but he lacks a plan. No, sorry, he has one plan: for GonziPN to stay in government at all costs. Since the last election, we’ve had vacuous slogans such as Flimkien Kollox Possibbli (united, there’s nothing we can’t do), Par Idejn Sodi (a pair of steady hands)... which have resulted in just the opposite of what was promised.
The government losing two parliamentary votes in sequence marked a seismic political moment. Some say, a point of no return. But GonziPN continues to ignore public outrage.
The speeches in Parliament by the dissenting government members of Parliament provided the metaphorical tin opener that opened the can of worms of how the Nationalist Party works behind the scenes. We can understand better now how, in the last election, the government held on to power by the skin of its teeth. The deals, the conspiracies, the scheming that went on. Flimkien kollox possibbli indeed. For their own, though.
It is being confirmed to us with hard evidence now that when the intention is government at all costs, nothing and no one is spared. What a shame that it is the people – including those who were gullible enough to believe the lies and the mises en scène and voted PN in the last minute - who are paying the price.
While the soup hits the fan – in the form of the messy consequences brought about by the secret GonziPN deals becoming public – many families feel that priorities are being ignored by the government while they continue labouring to make ends meet.
If lessons are to be learnt it is about how far the PN is ready to go in the deceit department when it comes to winning elections. Far too many personal interests at stake and, thus, the ruthless struggle for power as an end in itself, as opposed to as a means to the end of improving the ordinary people’s lot.
As things unfold, one can then understand better why some ministers are more equal than others. Why some were dismissed by a mere cellphone text message, while others had their position strengthened in spite of their performance.
Things become clearer when seeing the high-handed manner in which Lawrence Gonzi has dealt with various people on his side of the political divide, be they contenders for the leadership (remember the friendly race?), Cabinet ministers, MPs... The chickens are eventually coming home to roost.
It is also not so hard to understand why Minister Austin Gatt, for instance, in spite of all that was/is wrong under his watch – the situation at Enemalta, the BWSC contract, the job promises of SmartCity, public transport, roads – surfs from one malfunction to the other and remains with his head above the water. This, while others around him sink or, rather, are pushed under water and stronger ones are given a life-vest.
I wrote elsewhere about two worlds: one inhabited by the Prime Minister and his buoyant Cabinet, where faithful reporters on the various media tell us their stories through rose-tinted glasses, and the other world, where the rest of us live. Now, after four years living in this other rosy world, the Prime Minister wants to visit us in our kitchens to listen to what’s wrong in our world.
GonziPN is now in overdrive trying to win those it neglected for four years. So, in these last months, those whose raison d’etre in party and government has been their own interests are now coming out with “my choice”, “my voice”, “Prime Minister for a day”, e-cards, canvass for us... and every other existing marketing ploy. Sigh. Will this make up for the fact that the Prime Minister ignores those who disagree with him? Take, for instance, how he voted against the people’s will on the divorce law.
Or for the fact that the Prime Minister is ridiculing the House of Representatives? We’ve seen this after two opposition motions were carried by Parliament and, as a result, he resorted to sarcastically referring to “il-Parlament bravu”.
Or for the long list of inefficiencies, u-turns and hardships inflicted on many by GonziPN?
We shall see.
But what will happen in the meantime? Expect more fabricated sleaze from the Nationalist Party-government tandem to counter all of the above by means of their well-orchestrated endeavours on the various media in the coming months.
A case in point is the well-coordinated onslaught – from Facebook to television news - on Labour MPs on the topic of illegal immigration... and this is only the beginning.
We now have concrete evidence – as revealed in Parliament – of how these no holds barred attacks on Labour are organised by all those who have a personal interest in keeping Labour out of government.
This, in spite of how much those involved have been detaching themselves and denying this truth over the years.
Dr Dalli is shadow minister for the public service and gender equality.