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Enough of this mud-slinging

These last few days I re-read Juan Mamo’s Ulied in-Nanna. Mamo vividly describes the plight of a group of Maltese peasants who moved to the US in the early 1900s, and highlights the daily misery of the Maltese man in the street of those times.

Undoubtedly, we have made incredible strides over the last three generations to catch up with the rest of Europe. One may recall numerous junctures along this road, at which we took collective decisions as a nation which have taken us forward, together.

The most recent of these were the constitutional changes which made Malta a republic, and then during more controversial times, the decision to change the electoral law in favour of a majority of votes.

And we are now at another juncture. And a very important one. The political ins and outs of the last few years have brought people to a stage where they are collectively shouting out to us politicians with one voice. Enough!

People have had enough of this bickering. In my profession I meet people from all walks of life; young and old, rich and poor, Nationalists and Labourites. Everyone has the same message - enough of the old style of politics, this zero sum game. Enough of outright spin and lies as if people are unable to see the truth. And enough of this nepotism and cronyism which leads to incompetent people running operations which then obviously fail. Enough of the mudslinging and name calling.

Let’s grow up as a nation and move on. We need a parliament focused on the needs of the country. We need a parliament made up of competent and hardworking politicians who are able to work together to deliver as a nation. We need politicians who are willing to be judged by results and not simply by rhetoric. Politicians who are ready to call a spade a spade. A new way of doing politics.

For too long have we been operating as two tribes. For too long have we seen a “winner takes all” attitude that is keeping a lot of talent out of the administration of this country and creating disillusionment in the open-minded majority of our citizens.

We have been making this point for years now, and have been repeatedly served with the same lip service about “reconciliation” and a “Government for all of Malta”. In effect, it is clear that over the last few years, the situation has grown worse, with the Government being accused of exclusion not only by people with Labour sympathies, but by Nationalists across the board.

Some will make the argument that it will be political suicide for anyone to try to tackle this, and that anyone who tries to address this will be proverbially “lynched” by his own crowd. I beg to differ. People are inherently good and fair, and will respect leaders who follow these values. But anyone who wants to succeed at this needs to have real leadership qualities, and needs to be able to live by these values.

When I decided to back Joseph Muscat as leader for the Labour Party, it was because I truly believed that this mature young man, with an open mind and invaluable experience in Brussels, had the ability and the courage to make this change happen. All I have seen since then reinforces this belief, and it is only through this conviction that I also decided to do my bit as a candidate.

We are now at a juncture. Within the next few months the country will have the opportunity of choosing new leaders. The choice is between more of the same or a fresh start. Likewise the Nationalist Party will within the coming years, in all probability, choose a new leader. It will be truly a missed opportunity if in doing so, the organs within the Nationalist Party do not elect a leader who will rise up to the occasion and move towards this new way of doing politics.

There is an opportunity for a new PN leader to come on board who, together with Muscat, will move towards a higher level of political maturity. Politicians will work together for a better quality of life, within a reformed, strong and, fair parliamentary setting, and with the necessary scrutiny that keeps democracy healthy.

This is truly a juncture and an opportunity for change. It is time to grow up!

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