The Muscat, Sant seat-switching game
Is Joseph serious when he says he wants Alfred Sant to stand for the European Parliament election in June 2014? Ten years ago, we had Muscat cheer-leading the anti-Europe campaign as a journalist and presenter of the now infamous Made in Brussels programme on Super One TV. I remember the claims in that programme of the tragedies waiting to fall on us as soon as we joined Europe.
I remember the Muscat’s repetition of Sant’s claims that we would be a voiceless “makku” among the big European fish, and that we would suffer deep economic problems and huge unemployment with an invasion of Sicilians. Our factories, small businesses, hotels and restaurants, commercial sector, all would be unable to cope, Sant and Muscat repeated incessantly. And all we would get was a million liri.
Muscat was a frequent columnist in several papers. In a column in the Labour weekly KullĦadd on September 19, 1999, Muscat said Eddie Fenech Adami wanted to burden us with EU membership that would prove to be the millennium cross. Not only in Malta. In a column in the widest-read daily in Iceland, Morgunbladid, on August 1, 2002, Muscat advised the people of Iceland not to touch the EU with a bargepole.
Sant and Muscat’s campaign against EU membership failed. But not before we had to go for a second vote in a general election in April 2003 after Sant and Muscat declared the March referendum a ‘victory’ for the chimera of what they called ‘partnership’.
Instead of accepting the Maltese people’s sovereign will shown in a specific referendum about a specific question, they added the sick and the dead and the genuine abstainers with the total against membership to engineer a ‘victory’ out of defeat like the 1981 general election result.
On the morrow of the referendum Yes vote, The New York Times reported: “It would lead to an erosion of competitiveness for our country,’’ said Joseph Muscat, a senior official with the opposition Labour Party, which fervently opposes membership. In a telephone interview, Mr Muscat also said the structure of European Union government meant that a country like Malta ‘’really doesn’t have any type of voice.’’
But in a few months, Muscat stood for the very same European Parliament seat that he had worked so assiduously to deprive Malta of. In an unbelievable twist, Muscat became one of the voices we Maltese have in Europe where, according to Muscat before, we would have no voice.
Fast forward four years and Labour loses yet another general election in 2008. Labour rejects a man like George Abela and wheels out Muscat as its new leader. And in the game Labour believes politics to be, Muscat is now sending Sant to fill one of Malta’s seats in the European Parliament after June 2014. There’s no doubt Sant will be elected with Muscat’s blessing. And the leader and cheerleader of the anti-EU campaign will have switched their seats as Labour leader and MEP.
This would be a joke if it weren’t so serious for Malta. Both Sant and Muscat have been proved very wrong. Malta has done well out of EU membership. Membership has given us a new impetus in all fields and our economy is the only one in Europe, with Germany, to have increased full-time jobs and reduced unemployment since 2008.
Malta will have received upwards of a billion euro in its first 10 years of membership and we can see these EU funds all around us. These are the facts and this is the Maltese electorate’s opinion.
In a Eurobarometer survey published last April which enquired about the future of Europe, 72 per cent of the Maltese said they were happy living in the EU as opposed to just 23 per cent still believing Sant and Muscat. We Maltese are the topmost nation in the EU seeing ourselves both as Maltese and European with 62 per cent saying as much. In an endorsement of the economic freedoms that are the pillars of the economic facet of the EU, 62 per cent of the Maltese say free competition is the best guarantee for economic prosperity as opposed to just 19 per cent who disagree. And the Maltese want more Europe, not less. In the Eurobarometer published in April, 81 per cent of Maltese said they want more decision-making at the European level in the economic field.
This is what we Maltese have enjoyed during these eight years of EU membership and this is what we believe. Sant and Muscat have been proved very wrong and their seat-switching game will be seen for what it is – the same embarrassment for Malta that their fanatic campaign and ‘partnership rebaħ’ shenanigans were nine years ago.