Yes, it’s time for change
Pushing 77 and not in the best of health, when the time arrives to leave this earth, my wife, children, their family, friends and the people of Malta continue to enjoy everything I fought for: a government respectful of democratic principles and the rule of law, which guarantees everyone with a good education, commensurate job opportunities and the best possible healthcare.
In the last 10 years, Lawrence Gonzi has led the country through thick and thin.
Although Joseph Muscat is not experienced in government, measuring their respective strengths and weaknesses is not as difficult as one may think.
Gonzi’s record, warts and all, is there for all to see. The country’s finances are on a secure footing and, for that alone, he deserves to be re-elected.
Despite a handful of errors that Gonzi has admitted, expressed regret for and taken remedial action, Muscat is not immune to error.
He was proved wrong for counselling that Gonzi should emulate the Cypriot economic model, ill-advised for instructing Noel Farrugia, Labour’s former Minister of Agriculture, to forge close ties with Muammar Gaddafi’s revolutionary movement, and, again, for sitting on the fence until the anti-Gaddafi uprising in Libya was practically over.
Recently, he has unleashed a stream of untruths, non-sequiturs and porkies of all shapes and sizes.
A glaring difference between the party leaders is that Gonzi apologises for and corrects his errors while Muscat cannot countenance the prospect of being fallible. His replies to uncomfortable questions are either evasive, non-committal, often flippant.
Recently, his tone has escalated by a couple of notches and verges on arrogance. His refusal to comment on the charges levelled by former deputy leader Anġlu Farrugia reminds me of Dom Mintoff fobbing off parliamentary questions and his notorious riposte that furnishing the requested information was not in the public interest. This is a tiny fraction of Muscat’s political baggage.
Coming from a man determined to become Prime Minister at all costs does not bode well for the people of this country.
While Labour’s PR people were giving the party a facelift and making it more acceptable, Muscat shrewdly steered clear of controversy, became all things to everyone and made soothing noises in the ear of environ-mentalists, big business and contractors alike.
Labour’s cosmetic strategy attracted a number of uncommitted voters and Nationalists who, for real or perceived reasons, wish to chastise the Nationalist Party.
Until February 3, when The Sunday Times carried an eye-opening interview with Anġlu Farrugia. Labour was quick to launch a damage limitation exercise but Muscat’s refusal to comment did not do his party any favours. His silence is tantamount to tacitly admitting Farrugia’s charges and, furthermore, that Labour’s leader is untrustworthy and does not honour his commitments.
Farrugia accuses Muscat of taking him for a ride and stabbing him in the back.
Stabbing colleagues and similar machinations are not new to Muscat and his circle. Many should recall Muscat’s underhand tactics to clinch his party’s leadership. On that occasion, he brought Martin Schultz, the leader of the Socialist Group in the EU Parliament, over to Malta surreptitiously to canvass support and endorse Muscat’s credentials.
Muscat was elected to the EU Parliament to represent his electorate and not to pull a fast one over the other leadership contenders: George Abela, Evarist Bartolo, Marie Louise Coleiro-Preca and Michael Falzon. Their joint protest to the Socialist International defines Muscat’s manoeuvring and Schultz’s involvement as inappropriate, unethical and a stab in the back.
In the last few weeks, the electorate has seen Muscat and the Labour Party re-emerge in their true colours. The smiling mask has fallen. When the greasepaint is removed, Old Labour’s features and conduct reappear.
As soon as Gonzi called the election, Muscat and Labour rediscovered their voice, exhumed the art of telling untruths and perfected the political duplicitous legacy of their mentor, Alfred Sant. The former Super One journalist and his clique have reverted to type.
Faced with these chilling revelations, can anyone believe that old supposedly New Labour and Muscat will preside over a more open and welcoming government?
Labour does not trust the majority of its MPs and candidates. They were kept in the dark until the halfway point of this electoral campaign and the publication of the party’s manifesto.
Anġlu Farrugia says that Muscat has had him in his sights for months.
If a party leader has no qualms about sticking a knife into a loyal colleague’s back, imagine the fate that would have awaited those who, until earlier this month, were toying with the prospect of voting Labour?
I too believe it is time for change. On March 9, my first preference will not go to the PN candidate I voted for in 2008. Those who hanker for change or wish to punish the MP or minister who failed them should vote for another candidate on the party’s list. Ditching a party with a proven track record and instead entrust the country for five long years to another known for economic mismanagement is not a risk worth taking.