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The black hand of Labour

After the PR shenanigans on Sunday over the outcome of the magisterial inquiry into the Egrant allegations involving the Prime Minister and his wife, the true face of the Labour Party began to emerge. And it is not a nice sight.

One would expect Joseph Muscat to milk such an opportunity to its limit, as any normal politician would do. He came out, at least from what has been revealed so far, clean of the whole affair. There was grandeur, there were tears and there was a touch of vindictiveness when he drove the knife into former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, who had used the Egrant affair in the heat of last year’s electoral campaign.

The allegations linking Egant to the Muscat family did not change the election outcome. Inversely, Dr Muscat emerged triumphant and did the same again last Sunday. That, however, is the nice part of the story.

There has been a distinct shift in the government’s approach to the whole issue of corruption in the country. Though the inquiring magistrate found no documentation to back the allegations on Egrant, there are numerous other affairs, some of them similarly still before the courts, which could well come to a tragic end for Labour. Dr Muscat seems to want to make believe that the Egrant inquiry exonerates him and the men and women around him from all the other sins.

Among those to jump on the bandwagon was Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, who, like the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, did have a Panana company set up at the time of Egrant. He said the inquiry cleared him and Mr Schembri too. It would be interesting to see what an inquiry would have had to say about Dubai-based company 17 Black, which may have been the true reason why Dr Muscat called the election a year early.

Then there is an assault on the European front. Labour MEP Miriam Dalli has asked European Parliament president Antonio Tajani to reconsider Dr Busuttil’s role of scrutinising judges nominated to the European Court of Justice. Another Labour MEP, Alfred Sant, asked for the resignation of Nationalist MEP David Casa following the inquiry findings. And if that were not enough, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has called for action to be taken against Mr Casa after he published one of its own reports, that mentions 17 Black as one of two so-called “target clients”, which were set to pay money to secret Panama companies.

In Labour’s strategy, the hunter has now become the hunted. There was nothing in the Egrant inquiry so they are out on the offensive. It looks like a purge. It is a position that raises questions about who really had an interest in concocting the Egrant story that turned out into a damp squid and a victory for Labour.

Going on the aggressive is a terrible tactical approach to take. Admittedly, Labour has no effective opposition as the Nationalist Party is truly in shambles but voters can think things out for themselves without the Nationalists around.

Reality is different from what Labour tries to spin. There are other ‘Egrants’ down the line and just trying to demolish Dr Busuttil or Mr Casa will not make them go away.

It just makes it look so vindictive and diversionary.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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