It’s time to rethink
The first thing Alfred Sant did when he became Prime Minister was to despatch his Foreign Minister to Brussels to place Malta’s request for accession into the freezer.
Joseph Muscat was at the time Sant’s most voluble supporter. After 10 years of anti-EU militancy, the loss of two elections and a referendum, Muscat performed a remarkable somersault, told all and sundry he was a convinced European, stood for election and won a seat in the EU Parliament.
If you want to know more about Muscat’s inconsistency read his May 20, 2000 piece in KullĦadd in which he calls upon fellow Labourites to launch a positive campaign for Malta to be the Switzerland of the Mediterranean.
On March 14, 2003, Muscat wrote in The Malta Independent that “The PN and those in favour of joining the EU immediately and at all costs occasionally try to convey the message that there is no other alternative… Switzerland in the Mediterranean is alive… and kicking”.
Although Muscat’s volte-face remains the political somersault most people remember, it was not the first nor would it be the last occasion the honourable gentleman has failed the tests of credibility and consistency.
Had Malta heeded Muscat we would have lost €2.5 billion in EU funds and an immeasurable store of respect and goodwill we enjoy in EU circles and further afield.
Shortly after the 1998 election and the reactivation of Malta’s EU application, L-Orizzont’s issue of October 31, 1999 carried a piece by Muscat alleging that the Nationalist Party’s unholy haste had dissuaded consortia from bidding for the cruise terminal project. Ironically, Muscat kicked off Labour’s 2013 campaign at Valletta Waterfront that forms part of a project he predicted would be a non-starter.
Four years ago, when Muscat campaigned to win the party leadership, he gave IIlum interviews on May 18 and June 1, 2008.
When asked if he endorsed Malta’s participation in Partnership for Peace his reply consisted in a resounding “no” adding: “Surely not to ensure our Ambassador to Brussels will not be asked to leave the meeting!” Surprise, surprise, without making a big song and dance over the issue, since then, Muscat has endorsed Malta’s participation.
This series of errors attributable to Muscat’s naiveté, inexperience and unpreparedness to govern could have cost Malta dearly.
Muscat’s volatility and changes of opinion confirm that, at election time, he has no qualms about telling audiences only what they wish to hear and, despite his promises, does what suits him and his party best. Recent developments prove beyond doubt that Muscat will go to any lengths and, should the occasion warrant, tell lies to protect himself and his party. Nor will he hold back from shielding persons at odds with the law and raising a couple of digits to Labour’s empty slogan that Malta belongs to all of us.
After dozens of articles, urging people to take to the streets to strike against VAT, Muscat backed his mentor, Sant, when the latter introduced the disastrous CET, which led to Lino Spiteri’s principled resignation from Minister for Finance.
Apparently, he has forgotten his threats and big talk and, although years later, still refuses to acknowledge the Nationalists were right and he was wrong all the time.
He is remembered for his opposition to other initiatives not least the introduction of local government, privatisation, the adoption of the euro and the sale of Mid-Med Bank to HSBC, which the short-sighted Labour leader described as the biggest heist in history.
Muscat preaches peace and makes the case for ousting tribalism from politics. However, his October 17, 2001 piece in L-Orizzont labels the cross-party National Youth Council “Talibans” for equating EU membership with the Koran, the Alfa and Omega of everything on earth.
On October 31, 2001 he wrote that accession was not a determining factor in Maltese youths’ search for jobs. Just before and after the 2003 election that led to Malta’s accession, Muscat contributed these thoughts to L-Orizzont: “I am proud to be among those who do not fear confrontation and do not chose the easy path” (March 5, 2003) and “The 30 MPs elected by Labour supporters and others who voted for the party are in duty bound to oppose the ratification of the treaty sanctioning Malta’s accession to the EU” (April 30, 2003).
Had Lawrence Gonzi heeded Muscat’s advice to follow the Cypriot economic model, Malta would have a negative growth of 2.3 per cent – ours stands at +1.6 per cent – a jobless rate of 14.7 per cent, compared to Malta’s 6.3 per cent, and a budget deficit of 6.7 per cent when ours is 2.7 per cent.
As Cyprus risks a multi-million euro bailout, Muscat has given up mentioning our East Mediterranean EU colleagues in distress.
Furthermore, although Muscat stated in the House of Representatives that he agreed with the introduction of a night energy tariff, he is now pooh-poohing the idea. But that is the least of his sins.
His worst, most damning blemishes are brazen barefacedness and telling untruths intentionally. Does Muscat think he is kidding anybody when he says he understood iqattgħu blokka bajda (cutting up a white block) to mean a block of ice and not of cocaine?
Those who are considering switching allegiance from a party led by a man as prone to error as his fellow mortals to one led by another of proven inexperience and inconsistency, who lacks credibility and has perfected the art of telling strategic untruths, should better think again.