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Five years of shattering myths - Chris Fearne

Last Friday marked the fifth year since the Labour Party obtained the then largest electoral mandate in our history. And we are now only three months away from the first anniversary of the last election, which the Labour Party won with an even larger popular mandate.

This is therefore a good time to look back, even for just a moment, and reflect on the nature of this government and its faithfulness to the trust people put in it.

A proviso. I could be clinical, as my training predisposes me, and rattle off the myriad achievements and statistics which show in no uncertain terms that we have delivered beyond expectations on all the main fronts – employment, investment, commerce, social and health services, and so on.

Today, however, I choose to take a different tack. This anniversary offers an opportunity to do something beyond the ordinary ministerial duty of informing the public. This is a moment to reflect on the bigger picture, on the heart and soul that characterise and distinguish this government.

On this count, I have no difficulty in stating that above all else we have delivered one of the noblest services to democracy: we have shown with facts, not words, that the Labour Party is a force for good, as valid and worthy of the task in government as in Opposition.

For starters, we have completely shattered the myth, peddled by the PN for decades, that only they have the wherewithal to guide, incentivise and grow the economy. We have shown that not only can we do all this but have the creativity, confidence and capability to do much more. Apart from firing up the spluttering economic engine we inherited in 2013, we re-engineered it to take us to new financial and economic horizons. Hopping frantically on the shards of their shattered myth, PN exponents have now been reduced to berating the public to take their eyes off their, and our, economic success.

Broadening the palate, we also ripped apart an even more arrogant Nationalist myth. Portraying us as somewhat lesser political beings, they believed that Europe and the rest of the world beyond the Grand Harbour were terra incognita to us, we the country bumpkins.

Not only were we better Europeans abroad, we also brought more Europe to Malta than ever before

How sweet the irony of the way things turned out is. These five years have shown that we have understood Europe much more than Nationalist administrations ever did. As loyal team players, we have discharged our duties as active contributors to the EU story more strongly than ever before. Yet at the same time we never refrained from holding our ground, elegantly but firmly, when the occasion called for it. In a nutshell, no other government has done Europe better than us.

Yet we took this matter one step further. Almost as soon as we were elected in 2013, we sounded a key note – for us, Europe was not going to mark the limits of our vision. Beyond our home continent there were opportunities and challenges we needed to take and face in equal measure with enthusiasm, creativity and sharp insights. These five years have proven us right. Totally.

By extension, we erased another myth from our political scene. Not only were we better Europeans abroad, we also brought more Europe to Malta than ever before. By embracing divorce legislation from the Opposition benches we had already signalled our mission. With the reins of government in hand, we embarked on this mission in earnest and introduced a raft of liberal, social and personal rights, which Europeans had already been enjoying.

The 2013 election has proved us right. The 2017 election has proved that there is no going back to the old conservative Malta.

The final myth we shattered over the last five years is the most crucial one, and the one closest to my heart. Prior to the 2013 election, and I would add till today, the PN never quite understood that the call of ‘Malta tagħna lkoll’ was not just an electoral slogan. To us it described a political, social and cultural reality bubbling ferociously under the PN radar.

Outside of the echo chamber of the political class and its diehards, Malta is no longer divided between red and blue. It is made up of individuals, not tribes. Of men and women who think, not just blindly follow. Of persons and families who judge their government by how much it improves the quality of their lives, not by the political genes they inherited from their parents.

May we continue to shatter more myths – indeed, as I see it, we have only just started.

Chris Fearne is the Deputy Prime Minister.

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