On unity, take Muscat with a pinch of salt

Labour, its leadership, media and as a result its supporters, feel constantly under threat and react aggressively, to whoever dares to criticise them

Despite two successive landslide victories at the polls, a siege mentality has set in within the Labour Party.

Labour, its leadership, media and as a result its supporters, feel constantly under threat and react aggressively, to whoever dares to criticise them. Labour is often in the press for the wrong reasons – grave allegations of corruption and wrongdoing have been doing the rounds for more than three years now. This situation has led to a siege mentality within the party and amongst many of its supporters.

Rather than doing the obvious – ousting those who have been tarnishing Labour’s and Malta’s reputation – the Prime Minister defends them at all cost. Muscat is the undisputed leader of the Labour Party. Numerically, at least, he wields enough power to oust the usual suspects who time and again have come under fire for wrong doing, and corruption allegations. But he refuses to do so, preferring instead to defend them, and to do so he uses his media to lash out at those who uncover corruption, and his critics.

Why the Prime Minister refuses to do what he should have done ages ago – fire Konrad Mizzi – is anybody’s guess although rumours that if he does, he’ll go down too have now persistently been doing the rounds.

The Labour Party media downplays the allegations, stating that ‘no proof of financial wrong doing, and corruption exists’. The fact that two off shore companies were set up in Panama, and emails sent by Brian Tonna of Nexia BT, identifying 17 Black as the target client to the Panama companies, have now surfaced through the International Consortium of Journalists, are good enough reasons why the Prime Minister should fire Mizzi and Keith Schembri. At the very least, their office prevents them – especially in the case of Mizzi – from holding these offshore accounts. But the Prime Minister and his media would have none of that. The ‘there-is-no-proof’ and the ‘I-don’t-care-as-long-as-the-economy-is-doing-well’ mantra is what the Labour Party media feeds to its avid followers, which they get to repeat at the workplace, and on social media.

But it is Labour’s siege mentality which is the most outstanding. They act as if the slightest of criticism will be their party’s downfall, and the return of the Nationalist Party to power. Perhaps the fact that Labour spent more than two decades in the political wilderness, contributes to the current siege mentality within the party. They hold on to power too dearly, scared that they can lose it anytime soon. There is no other way how to explain the ridiculous, at times downright inflammatory, criticism I received, on social media and through private messages following a political exchange I had on TVM’s Xarabank a fortnight ago.

Not only was the crowd, at the Xarabank studios overtly hostile – but Labour’s ‘secret’ facebook groups were awash with hate comments, and threats in my regard. If you are reading this article now, scroll down to the comments section and you’ll see for yourself. The message is loud and clear, ‘Shut up, cheese off – your party lost two successive general elections and that alone is a good enough reason not to criticise the Labour government’. Scary, but that’s the mindset. Rather than being open to criticism, and purging Labour of its rotten elements – which its current strong numerical position enables it to do, Labour goes into defence mode and attacks scathingly the slightest criticism which comes its way.

It is this mindset which rendered the ‘Malta Taghna Lkoll’ 2013 election battle cry a joke. For if you’re Nationalist, active within the Opposition party – or within civil society for that matter – and you dare criticise government’s wrongdoing then you’re targeted, attacked verbally, discriminated against at the work place and threatened. This is a worrying situation for whilst Malta has always been politically polarised, what we are witnessing today is unprecedented. Which is why when the Prime Minister talks of unity, he should be taken with a pinch salt for through his actions he is sowing further division.

 

Frank Psaila is a lawyer and anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad

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