Conviction not convenience
Politicians are as human and prone to error as the next man or woman. Will the one who has never made a mistake please stand up? The length of term of office, be it two, three, 14 years or a quarter of a century is immaterial. No politician is expected to get everything right all the time. However, when they are shown or realise the error of their ways, common decency, honesty and sincerity demand they should take a step back, apologise, and amend or scrap the offending policy or measure. Unless they acknowledge the error publicly, what initially may be ascribed to human frailty assumes more diabolical proportions.
PN administrations, not least Lawrence Gonzi’s, have acknowledged mistakes and asked the forgiveness of those hurt or wronged unintentionally. They proceeded to demonstrate their sincerity in practice by amending and reversing policies and measures. To the best of my knowledge the one occasion I recall of a Labour leader expressing regret, albeit five years too late, was when Dom Mintoff admitted and apologised for making a shambles of tertiary education.
That was long before the private and Church school debacle for which Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, first as Minister for Education and later as Prime Minister, was responsible.
True to form, he remains adamantly unrepentant. Joseph Muscat and his generation are among the first to know that KMB’s mindless anti-private and Church school crusade was one in a long line of half-baked reforms, and a few weeks ago in an interview carried in The Sunday Times he admitted to being one of the victims.
Like Mifsud Bonnici before him, Dr Muscat did not stand for election and was gifted a seat in the House. That is where the similarity ends.
One cannot blame Dr Muscat for the excesses of the Mintoff era nor for KMB’s misguided policies. That said, members of Mintoff and KMB’s cabinets who have escaped the culls of anno domini and the electorate are as responsible as their former masters. Dr Muscat, then at playschool or possibly a pupil attending primary or secondary school, cannot be held to account. Without a doubt, Labour’s new leader has sufficient personal baggage, not only by association, that to lumber him with Mintoff’s extreme socialist inheritance and Mifsud Bonnici’s legacy would not only be unfair but a complete waste of effort and time.
When Muscat was elected leader of the Labour Party, this former Super One, L-Orizzont and Kullhadd journalist, then his party’s foremost anti-EU pundit, made sure that the anti-EU rump he had cultivated kept its peace. During Alfred Sant’s thankfully brief, disastrous premiership, Dr Muscat, his most vociferous and closest ally, endorsed and lauded Labour’s quest to scrap the EU accession process. Twenty-two months later, under Eddie Fenech Adami’s guidance and wise leadership, the electorate put paid to Labour’s anti-EU crusade and voted to join the EU.
However, wonder of wonders, within a few months Dr Muscat, who had refused to accept the people’s decision to join the EU, experienced a Damascene conversion. Then buoyed by the popularity gained during his anti-EU campaign, who had likened accession to a heavy cross (is-salib tal-millennju) and blamed Fenech Adami for putting it across Malta’s shoulders, he converted inexplicably and dramatically to the pro-EU cause, stood for election and was elected to the European Parliament.
In the belief that Muscat was genuinely sincere in ditching his anti-EU credentials, his former opponents in the ‘Yes to Europe’ camp must have drawn a sigh of relief.
However, after reading The Sunday Times interview, where he failed to apologise and more pointedly recant his anti-EU past and substantiate his new-found enthusiasm for the EU and what it stands for, they would have realised his conversion is not as sincere as he would like us to believe. It is at best skin deep. Moreover, the mind boggles when one hears Labour spokesmen state brazenly that their power station proposal would not be bound by EU rules, regulations and tendering process.
Muscat’s recent trend in sporting blue ties and addressing audiences against blue backgrounds should not gull the electorate. After a decade and more of harsh criticism of Fenech Adami’s policies, can Muscat’s enthusiasm and admiration for the Nationalist leader’s achievements convince anyone in his right mind? Unlike Fenech Adami, a former President and therefore correctly super partes, my assessment of Muscat’s change of tack is that it is nothing but a superficial, short lived ploy to con disgruntled Nationalists and reflects the basest form of electoral expedience.
Malta can do without politicians unable to bring themselves to admit and apologise for their errors and offer flippant replies to serious, searching questions. This country needs conviction politicians.
Why believe crypto-Nationalist poseurs who pretend to play the environment card while in thrall to the construction lobby? Should Malta be led by a bunch of politicians who refuse to admit and apologise for their mistakes and solely for electoral convenience make a show of subscribing to middle-ground policies? Meanwhile, Muscat and his party keep their traditional beliefs under wraps and retain their membership of the Socialist International.