Europe’s laughing stock?
I wasn’t born a Nationalist (party supporter), I became one – out of conviction. Labour’s lack of vision and Alfred Sant’s stand against Malta’s EU membership was the main reason why I became politically active within the Nationalist Party.
Things were rough, back then, our country was at the crossroads – we couldn’t afford to get it wrong. I thought Labour would be sensible enough to get it right – I was wrong.
I gave up on Labour (was never active within the party, anyway) and gradually became active within the PN. It is one decision I will never regret. The Labour way would have spelled economic and social disaster. As a young adult I wasn’t ready to experiment with my future. Many others who, like me, came from a Labour background, shared my concern.
Despite his age –Sant was 20 years his junior – we saw in Eddie Fenech Adami the leader with the right vision and the best policies, especially for the younger generation. His was a ‘forward change’, to borrow Barack Obama’s campaign slogan. Labour looked backwards and propagated its ‘partnership’ non-option.
We, young people, irrespective of our political background, campaigned, actively, within the ‘Yes’ Movement or the within the PN.
The ‘yes’ vote prevailed and Labour got a trashing at the polls. We secured our place in Europe and, today, thousands of young people, workers and small and medium enterprises are benefitting from the right decision to join the EU.
Eight years later, when everyone thought that EU membership was a closed chapter, Labour is back to its old self – Eurosceptic, as ever. Joseph Muscat is from my generation – Lawrence Gonzi is my father’s age – but, and despite his mantra of ‘a fresh way of doing politics’, Muscat is looking backwards, not forward. His decision to send Sant to Brussels, as an MEP is a case in point.
Muscat, who was Sant’s foot soldier during labour’s anti-EU membership crusade and up to the last election, wants to turn the clock back.
He wants to send to Brussels the man who campaigned most vociferously against Malta’s EU membership and froze Malta’s application during his brief stint in government. Unbelievable.
Imagine this scenario, barely two years from now, in 2014: Sant, the crusader against membership, in the EU Parliament speaking and deciding on your behalf and Muscat, his foot soldier, discussing sensitive issues – such as the EU budget – as our Prime Minister.
In 2017, Malta will have the presidency of the EU and, as things stand – PN is trailing Labour in the polls – Labour will be in government. We risk being Europe’s laughing stock.
No, Labour will not take Malta out of the EU but it cannot make the best out of membership because, if you don’t believe, really and truly, that Malta’s EU membership was the best thing that happened to us since Independence in 1964 then you can’t put your mind and heart to it and achieve the best results.
Muscat’s politics of convenience does not promise a bright future.
Muscat’s decision to have Sant contest the 2014 MEP elections is another step in the wrong direction. Sant represents a decade of useless, but very painful, controversies because of his anti-membership crusade. Shamefully, he has no regrets.
Muscat, if he wants to be taken seriously, should have shown Sant, and the likes of Alex Sceberras Trigona – he too part of the Labour’s anti-EU brigade – the door. But Joseph ‘the end justifies the means’ Muscat wants Sant to represent us in Europe and has appointed Alex Sceberras Trigona as his international secretary.
George Vella, who as Labour’s Foreign Minister, withdrew Malta’s EU membership in 1996, will, most probably, be Malta’s European commissioner once Tonio Borg’s term is up – Muscat has described Vella as his ‘political mentor’.
Muscat is from my generation but he remains stuck in the past; promoting relics from Dom Mintoff’s and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici’s Cabinets.
True, the PN has its shortcomings – of course, its positives far outweigh its negatives. Under Gonzi’s premiership, in this legislature, 20,000 new jobs were created – at the same time thousands of workers lost their jobs in the rest of Europe. However, the fact that the PN has been in government since 1998 might be enough reason – even if not justified – that the time for a change in government is now ripe.
Issues, such as the party’s opposition to divorce might have disappointed many a PN supporter.
In normal circumstances, the need for change would be understandable – but, when the alternative is Muscat, Sant, Sceberras Trigona, Vella, and the rest of the anti-EU brigade such change is, definetly, a change for the worse. Recently, a friend of mine, a disgruntled Nationalist, told me: “Give me the PN with all its shortcomings any time and spare me Muscat and the likes of Sceberras Trigona, Leo Brincat and Anġlu Farrugia, who are absolutely not fit to govern the country in rough times.”
He’s right. When things are rough, and tough, you don’t experiment with your future – you go for the safe route. And things are rough now and will get even rougher, and tougher.
The international economic and financial situation is still very volatile, oil prices are on the increase and European neighbours risk another financial meltdown.
We cannot get it wrong now, just as we couldn’t afford to get it wrong in 2003. We are at the crossroads, again – we need to choose sensibly – we need to opt for the safer route.
With Muscat as Prime Minister we shall be the laughing stock of Europe – and not ‘the best in Europe’, as he (Muscat) wants us to believe. Muscat is not the safe route – his is the wrong route. Muscat, and his clan, mean new taxes, unemployment and political uncertainty.
You’re still in time to choose the sound, safe and sensible route. You can’t do much to stop Sant from becoming an MEP but you can mitigate the damage by making sure that in 2014 Muscat is not Malta’s Prime Minister.
You’re still in time to say no to Muscat and the Labour Party.
You’re still in time to spare this country from a humiliating experience in 2014.
Frank Psaila is the Nationalist Party’s information director.