Is it where you want to live?
Notice how every time we criticise Labour we are told that we are scaremongering. Never mind that the biggest scaremongering campaign in living memory was carried out by Labour itself just 10 years ago when Joseph Muscat fought tooth and nail to keep us out of Europe.
So when we express serious concerns about Labour’s hoax energy plan we are scaremongering. When we express concerns that Labour would steer our economy into a bailout we are scaremongering. And when we express concerns about Labour’s credibility on Europe we are scaremongering.
Speculation, suppositions, scaremongering, they retort at each of our claims.
So let us, for the sake of argument, say that Labour is right and all the rest of us are wrong.
Let us instead imagine what it would have been like had Labour actually been in government for the past five years, under Muscat’s stewardship, and implemented its declared policies. After all, he has been Leader of the Opposition for five years. How would it have looked and what shape would it be in today had he held the keys to Castille?
Here’s how it would have looked.
Take the economy. It is declared policy that Labour would have followed in the steps of Cyprus. On November 1, 2010, Muscat had laid it on thick on the Prime Minister saying that he was not half as able as competing countries.
“Take the island of Cyprus”, he had claimed, “which joined the European Union and the eurozone with us. The Cypriots, with the international crisis and all, have leapt forward. Now I hope that the Prime Minister will not come telling us that the crisis has not hit Cyprus. Cyprus is part of Europe too, part of the world and was hit by the crisis.”
Ok, so he would have followed the lead of the Cypriots. The result? Just two years on from Muscat’s statements, Cyprus is negotiating a bailout with the EU and the IMF. The unemployment rate has jumped to a whopping 14 per cent and stands at more than double that of Malta.
The economy is shrinking and, in the second quarter of last year, contracted by a staggering 2.4 per cent. In contrast, our economy grew at one per cent last year, well ahead of the European average.
And, crucially, the public finances in Cyprus are in a mess. In 2011, their public deficit stood at a massive 6.3 per cent whereas ours stood at 2.7 per cent, well below the three per cent threshold.
There’s the results for you of Muscat’s role model. He would have followed Cyprus and look where he would have led our economy: straight into the wall; straight into a bailout.
This is no scaremongering now. It was his role model, not ours.
Now take our respect in the EU. If Muscat was at the helm over the past five years, he would have shattered it.
In the beginning of 2009, he famously came out with a policy statement on immigration that included a commitment to block EU decisions randomly and to withdraw from our international commitments. It was a shocking statement to make in Opposition. But imagine if he did it as Prime Minister. Imagine where that would have led us.
There is just one other politician in Europe who made similar claims at the same time. It was Italy’s then minister, Roberto Maroni, who hails from the separatist Northern League party known for its extreme right-wing policies.
With his antics, Maroni ended up empty-handed and isolated in Europe and inflicted severe damage to Italy’s credibility in Europe, which was only restored when Mario Monti took the helm.
Muscat would have followed in Maroni’s footsteps because he advised us to follow precisely the same path.
And look what he would have done to our reputation in Europe. We would have lost our standing, our respect and we would be isolated. Hardly the result of a good negotiator.
And, finally, take Libya.
After deriding the Prime Minister for having had the courage of sticking his neck out for the Libyan people at an early stage of the crisis, it took Muscat a full six months - right until Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and slain - to finally state that, after all, he too wanted to see the end of Gaddafi. But, by then, it was all over.
Just imagine where our friendship with the Libyan people would be today if it had taken us so long to declare our support to their quest for freedom.
We would have been told that we were not there for the Libyan people when they needed us. We would have been seen as opportunists rather than genuine friends. We would have ushered a new era of frosty relations instead of the new era of good neighbourly relations we have today.
That’s where Muscat would have led us.
So this is not fiction. This is not scaremongering. This is how it would have been like had Muscat been at the helm of our country over the past five years.
An economy in the doldrums, isolated in Europe and seriously bruised with Libya.
Is that the Maltayou would like to live in?
Simon Busuttil is Nationalist Party deputy leader.