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Intestines-knotting pudding

Avid fans, those who click incessantly on my blog (ad­dress conveniently posted below) will have noticed that I have been less than generous in my production levels of late.

This is not because I subscribe to any fanciful notions of peace and goodwill around these times – I’ll leave that to the politicians, who have to pretend to be nice, decent, folk who can suspend hostilities because it’s that time of year, only to resume them again once the feast of the Epiphany is over.

No, my lack of grist for your discerning mills has been because of a combination of not feeling like it and of those same politicians not saying anything particularly stupid, provoking me into reaching for something with a keyboard to vent the proverbial.

Some minor things did irritate, though only enough to store them into my memory to trot out today. One such was a piece of evidence that certain columnists seem to have got into their heads that they have to dispense criticism on both parties equally, otherwise they will be branded as running-dog lackeys of the Nationalist Party. Strangely, being only pro-Labour seems to create no such effect.

Getting back to the evidence, a columnist who is always worth a read fell victim to this ‘can’t have an opinion’ syndrome. Having a bit of a muse about the billboards war that is characterising the electoral campaign, Noel Grima (happy birthday, by the way) took a small swipe at Labour for the hint at the Brazil billboard that their Christmas greeting one evoked.

Being as he had to take a similar swipe at the other lot, he pointed out that the PN effort in its turn evoked the pro-life campaign, making a rather strange jump from whinging about Labour’s very small political jibe to calling a billboard with a picture of Baby Jesus a political one because of its association with pro-life.

Don’t ask me, ask him.

There was some fun to be had in Labour’s anointment of the chap I had once called the Acceptable Face of Labour (back in the MEP campaign) as deputy leader instead of Anġlu Farrugia, who must have spent a somewhat miserable Christmas pulling his leader’s knife out of his back.

There is a story going around that the knife had been jammed between the wrong pair of shoulder blades but, the way things turned out, Farrugia was made to make way for Louis Grech, after his abysmal showing during the deputy leaders’ debate. It was partly a question of timing, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as I hear it, as someone else was supposed to be getting the chop.

One wonders whether there will be more blood on the carpet on the executive floor of the Glass Palace, a renewal having been signalled as needed in the polls, rather starkly. You’d think that someone would have done the math, being three months aways from the elections, but these are the people who thought that sending Franco Debono to Xarabank would be a good idea, so don’t be surprised if someone else finds himself at a loose end soon.

What about Grech, then? Clearly a gesture towards wooing the Middle Class (Joseph Muscat’s capitals not mine), he is a suave, urbane man-about-town who certainly wouldn’t evoke images of 1970s’ and 1980s’ thuggery, unlike many, many others on the executive floor and just below.

The extent to which this image appeals to Labour’s hard core is debatable but largely irrelevant (though not entirely), given that this bunch will vote for Labour if it was led by a chimp (as would the other bunch’s core, to be fair).

Grech will still have to temper his moderateness with a dose of steely determination, though, if he is not to lose Labour a teeny bit of the support their Soldiers of Steel give: elections are won and lost on a few hundred votes, after all.

Will this affect the perception of him by the Ladies Who Lunch and their businessmen hubbies, for whom Grech is ‘one of us’?

I doubt he’s particularly worried on a personal level, given that if Labour’s campaign turns into a train wreck (although we don’t have choo-choos here) he can walk away and board the next Air Malta flight to Brussels, where he’s done good, as was expected. What with Joseph and Michelle’s glaringly obvious aspirations to middle-classiness and the way Labour’s executive floor has become something of an Ikea showroom, though, you have to wonder what’s afoot down Mile End way.

So there you have it: from blue ties and neutral backdrops, through messages of “yes, I will give you what you want... whatever it is”, to ideas of cash-saving certainties being waved about with jolly abandon, right up the conjuring up of a solidly middle-class deputy and wafting him onto the podium without a peep of contestation (one donkey trot anyone?) Labour seeks to position itself to bamboozle the change-wanters into nodding blindly them into power, rather like Grech was nodded in.

Verily, Labour’s pudding has become a deceptively bland piece of inoffensive takeaway pap, the sort of stuff you ingest without noticing, until you wake up in the dead of night, your intestines knotted.

And a Happy New Year to all, especially those whose comments on this and my blog strengthen my resolve infinitely: if Labour is loved by this sort of mentality, there’s still something not quite right about it.

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www.timesofmalta.com/articles/author/20

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