Politics in the gutter
Lawrence Gonzi would have been better off holding the election last March, rather than permitting a situation that has allowed a few MPs to hijack the country’s agenda with their nauseating pursuit of self interest for months on end.
The Prime Minister did not call an election for one reason and it had nothing to do with the so-called national interest: it was not deemed to be in the Nationalist Party’s interest.
Looking at things strictly from an electoral point of view, perhaps his assessment was correct to an extent, given that Labour would today be in power since the PN is likely to have suffered defeat.
The opinion polls had suggested things were so bad that they could only get better. However, in many ways they have actually got worse.
While the PN has made little headway in the polls – other than its ability, it seems, to attract first-time voters – the extent to which the party has been tearing itself apart in recent months has placed its longer-term electoral future in more danger.
Of more concern is the manner in which this has been happening. We have gone from a gratuitous attack on former Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici to the bitterly personal and relentless pursuit by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, and Labour, of former EU ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana.
Neither Dr Pullicino Orlando nor the PL, save for a likely victory when the election actually does happen – and it should take place by the autumn – have emerged well from this. The former Nationalist MP has made one outlandish claim after another – from 10 MPs being prepared to vote against Mr Cachia Caruana to the former EU ambassador colluding with PL figures in 1996 to further his own interests – and systematically failed to substantiate a single one of them.
All the while, more information has emerged about the knowledge he had denied possessing about the Mistra scandal which erupted during the 2008 electoral campaign. On the basis of Gordon Pisani’s uncontested revelations last week alone he should have departed the political scene. Instead he has remained, quite bizarrely, as some sort of hybrid MP.
Labour, meanwhile, has not only colluded with the MP – its suggestion that it has not insults basic intelligence – but it has itself licked the bottom of a murky barrel in the process.
The release by the party of illicit recordings of Mr Cachia Caruana in private or off-the-record conversation with a journalist already raises ethical questions – ones the opposition had answered unequivocally if entirely differently when e-mails were leaked about his private exchanges with a journalist sometime last year.
Yet worse than this is the spin attached to what Mr Cachia Caruana said: that he implicated former ministers Lawrence Gatt and Guido de Marco, and perhaps even his then boss Eddie Fenech Adami, in his attempted murder.
This is a heinous distortion of Mr Cachia’s Caruana laments over a tragic event in his life – as he probed in his own mind what might have been if certain, remote conversations had or had not taken place. It has also caused needless pain to Prof. de Marco’s family.
If this is progressive politics, it should be of little wonder if young, educated people want to have nothing to do with it. Indeed, it is surprising that anyone wants to have anything to do with politics given the way certain politicians are behaving.
Gozo’s most famous occasional resident, Scottish actor and comedian Billy Connolly, once urged people not to vote for politicians because it only encourages them. We are living in an age where he has been proved right.