Summertime and the living is easy said the cool singer. The mood in summer is usually languid, excitement dissipated as the hazy weather makes us all forget our fights, our passions, our normal world. That is life as it should be. Then there is Malta: all is done upside down and instead of all things easy this summer has brought us a true cascade of firecrackers to add on to the fireworks of our deafening feasts.
We had an election in spring. A general election. Does anyone remember that? Does anyone know the day came, the votes were cast, and that Joseph Muscat and his merry band won another term? Not only won—swept all away.
Conquered to the extent that now we do not even hear anything about Muscat and his ministers. We just hear—or just about—endless news about the PN, its position in our landscape and the terrible warzone among four so-called friends vying to wear the crown of leader of the party and of the opposition.
The people in power know they can do anything they want with little to worry about. They did it even when Simon Busuttil and his team were screaming blue murder and making sure all wrongdoing, seen or whiffed, was exposed. We had accusations of money laundering, court cases, indictments. There was a slew of terrible scandals perpetrated by government and again the PN in opposition chased, challenged and uncovered all the terrors of the land.
Yet for government all went on as normal then. All goes on as normal now—now with hardly a whimper against all the wrongs and all the nepotism still being perpetrated rampantly.
We have these four contenders for the PN crown—just what the country does not need right now.
The term shades of grey, thanks to a terribly successful book, has taken on the connotation of sexiness and bouts of sadism. Alas, the only sexiness the four PN men – or one of them – can boast of is tawdry stuff regarding dirty money and dirtier nooks in Soho. But the contestant has assured us it is all a load of bull conjured up by the evil woman whose name, or designation, can hardly be mentioned.
In the future I envisage the name Daphne Caruana Galizia, or just Daphne, will be used more freely and with no fear of dire consequences—a libel case will be a Daphne, an election which has some hot accusations involved will also be a Daphne. She will be used and vilified so often and by so many that even blasphemy will be termed a Daphne.
Such is our upside-down world that now two contestants for the PN leadership are saying Caruana Galizia is evil personified, a disruptor of elections. From the woman most hated by Labour to a woman still hated by Labour, but with at least 50% of the PN leadership contestants also detesting her. As we do in Malta if our chosen contestant hates something we all have to follow suit so only God knows how many PN councillors and supporters now can’t stand Caruana Galizia.
Yet it isn’t just Frank Portelli and Adrian Delia who have not exactly shone. In fact all the contestants for the PN top spot left me and numerous others—not just in the debate but even before and since—feeling that none of them are up to the job. Not just through lack of charisma but also lack of depth and ideas.
This might boil down to the fact that whoever tries taking over the PN leadership has a problem which is beyond the electoral losses sustained in these last few years.
The party is bankrupt in money and in ideas and seems to have no ideals or vision. Because of this the PN is not attracting the right people to become part of it and sustain it with vigour and new blood. The only focus that seems prevalent in the party is to win back power as soon as possible. But no way forward is being discussed.
Even the fact that three of the contestants face the almost insoluble problem of getting into parliament to lead the opposition has been left unmentioned or at least not tackled properly.
In its haste to move on to the next phase, the party has allowed everyone—including old bigoted cranks—and his brother to contest.
Greyness is sometimes a good thing. In a land of vivid colours and madness a touch of grey can be a welcome change. But the greyness of ideas, the dearth of anything exciting, is scary for the PN and the country. There is no opposition which can keep the government in check and there is little hope that this situation is going to change.
As we have always done, Malta will trudge on. The PN will find a man to lead it and democracy will remain on the right track. After all this is what Malta, and anything connected to it, does best: it usually lacks much of a plan, does not discuss things profoundly and rarely looks ahead to the future. Yet by some hook or crookery it manages to stay buoyant.
Let’s hope that luck has not run out entirely for the party in opposition and that it will not move from its grey obscurity and dullness to total obliteration.