Of political spins and fears

A Labour leaning columnist wrote that Joseph Muscat “touched on the urgent need for an internal earthquake”. Four years later we are still waiting for any seismic activity unless he was referring to uniting the Labour Party: “Veteran stalwarts can now hold a dialogue with party novices” and that “the old and the new Labour stalwarts can now hold a dialogue” (The Times, September 18).

Surely, ‘unity’ goes beyond having a friendly chat. His own tune, “as if a new Labour government would apply the same policies and strategies of 30 years ago”, jars terribly with Karmenu Vella’s describing that era as “the golden years” and with Edward Scicluna’s proposal to copy Dom Mintoff’s economic policies and strategy!

This has been Labour’s modus operandi. We know where it’s coming from but we have no idea what it stands for and where it intends going. Labour claims: “It is not a case of not having proposals but a question of the right timing to ensure that the promised road map is not misconstrued through spin and propaganda.” It also accuses the Nationalist Party of “poisoning the well of politics” (The Times, November 26).

If Labour stops changing the goalposts and commits itself on a given issue in clear and unequivocal terms, how can it be misconstrued through spin?

If Labour declares that it will not demand renegotiations of Malta’s EU package, how can it be misjudged? If it states that it will respect EU hunting restrictions directives how can it be misunderstood? If it announces that, whatever the circumstances, it will move heaven on earth to save immigrants from drowning, how can it be misinterpreted? If its leader declares that he was terribly wrong to advise the Government to follow Cyprus’s economic model, how can that be misinterpreted?

What spin can his political rivals possibly come out with if Muscat explains when, how and by how much he will be reducing the utility tariffs and how he will replace the shortfall in revenue?

The same applies for job creation. Theatrically, Muscat asked his party faithful for a show of hands on whether they want jobs or not. I’m sorry but that is certainly a pathetic way of politicking! No spin there, is there?

Neither is there any fabrication regarding Muscat’s declaration that a Labour government will not raise the minimum wage when we heard him saying it loud and clear.

Labour argues that the electoral manifesto is an ongoing exercise because the scenario keeps changing. Excuse me, but planning to lead a country for five years (unless, of course, Muscat’s government folds earlier like Alfred Sant’s did) requires vision enough to prepare for any circumstance. The election is a couple of months away and his road map should be well explained before he actually sits in the hot seat driving this country to his promised land or over a precipice, as I suspect.

Labour complains that the PN is instigating fear in the electorate. Well, imagine you are asked to travel with Muscat, wouldn’t you want to know where you are going, how you are getting there, how long it will take to reach your destination and how much it will cost you? Now imagine the driver refuses to answer any of your questions. Would you trust him?

There is another real fear: will the jobs of public service employees be under continuous threat under a Labour government? Lino Spiteri wrote: “I believe that Labour is committing mistakes they can ill-afford. Targeting (Richard) Cachia Caruana in his government job was one of them. It made many civil servants ask whether they could be subjected to similar treatment. Instead of clarifying that it would not be the case Labour dug the hole deeper” (The Times, September 16).

If Labour has no scruples getting rid of exemplary public employees now what guarantee do they have that a Labour government will not fire them at whim?

Spiteri also warns: “It (Labour) is saying that it will hold Enemalta bureaucrats accountable should it be found that they had taken part in manoeuvres with a political aim. That is nonsense. Even the most politically rabid of civil servants or bureaucrats cannot be held accountable for their entity’s actions.” Plus: “Another mistake is the attack on the Health Minister because one of his relatives now occupies a senior post in the Health Ministry. Surely, the blood relationship is not the point. In tiny Malta, ultimately, everybody is related or friendly to each other.”

Who is planting the seeds of fear?

The latest example of what’s in store for us under Muscat’s premiership is his new declaration that, in the national interest, his government will keep the ‘positive’ measures announced in the Nationalist government’s 2013 Budget but that now Labour will be voting against it in Parliament.

Labour just cannot have its cake and eat it. If there was ever an obvious vote-catching gimmick, this surely must take the cherry.


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