Giegold takes on HSBC. Drat and double drat

Small wonder the entire PN line-up is scrambling so desperately to distance themselves from Sven Giegold now that he’s directly threatening the livelihood of at least 1,400 HSBC employees

Ah, politics can be such an amusing spectator sport to watch sometimes. So many unexpected twists and turns... it reminds me a little of ‘The Wacky Races’ (for those old enough who remember that glorious Hanna-Barbera cartoon, way back in the late Cretaceous period).

Sometimes it was Dastardly and Muttley in the lead, sometimes Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear, sometimes the Ant Hill Mob, or the Gruesome Two- some (whose car, the ‘Creepy Coupe’, came complete with its own inbuilt dragon, as well as permanent overhead rain cloud)... but you could always rest assured that, by the end of the episode, everything would have been turned spectacularly on its head.

For one thing, the races themselves never actually reached any ‘Grand Finale’, so there could never be any final victory anyway. For another, characters in that cartoon were altogether too intent on sabotaging each other’s chances, to ever actually care about crossing the finishing- line themselves. Each episode was, by definition, a contest of elimination; and part of what made the cartoon so addictive was that you could never really tell which vehicle would be run out of the race, by means of which improb- able Acme device, before the end.

The only predictable thing about the Wacky Races was that Dick Dastardly – the ‘villain’ of the piece, and therefore everyone’s favourite character (except, perhaps, for those of us who had an entirely understandable crush on Penelope Pitstop) – would come out last, invariably as a result of one of his own misfired machinations; and that each episode, without fail, would always end with a close-up of Muttley and his inimitable snicker.

Of course, it never occurred to me at the time that the whole thing was obviously political satire. In fact, it only occurred to me just now, as I wrote the above paragraphs. But what else could it be? (Apart from a send-up of a 1965 movie called ‘The Great Race’, starring Jack Lemmon and Nathalie Wood... but let’s not get too sidetracked by reality).

It cannot be a coincidence that politics follows the exact same formula as the Wacky Races, down to every last detail. Some things might be predictable – like the outcome of a particular election or referendum here and there, for instance; but in the fullness of time, it is an equably never- ending, unwinnable race, contested by an equally freakish assortment of oddballs and clowns... with no end in sight, ever.

And just like the Wacky Races, each ‘episode’ always ends up with someone doing a Muttley impersonation in the background. Right now, that would be me. Oh, I just can’t stop snickering, at how Dick Dastardly’s latest plans blew up in his face, utterly obliterating his precious ‘Mean Machine’ in the process...

But let’s recap a little. As you may recall, last week’s episode ended with a visit to Malta by the European Parliament’s ‘Rule of Law’ commission: featuring, among other cartoon characters, the European Greens’ equivalent of ‘Peter Perfect’: Sven Giegold, the MEP who has tried to build an entire political career out of constantly sabotaging Malta, using every device in his box of Acme tricks... just like Wile E. Coyote did with Roadrunner.

So far, so good. Like I said earlier, politics is a contest of elimination: and I, for one, do not expect its contestants to play fair. Sven Giegold is one of a number of MEPs who have decided – for reasons best known to themselves – to utterly destroy this country in any way they can; and while I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the idea, I’m not exactly surprised, either. To expect otherwise from a European politician would be to expect Dastardly not to be a Dick. It’s annoying, yes, but it’s also one of the more predictable aspects of this particular cartoon.

It is partly for this reason that I could never understand how local politicians – who (unlike Giegold, Guy, Gomez et al) will sooner or later be turning to Maltese citizens for their vote – would publicly support such a blatantly anti-Malta agenda in the first place. Couldn’t they see the end of this episode hurtling towards them like a painted tunnelon a brick wall? I mean... didn’t these people watch any cartoons at all when they were kids?

I reckon any old child brought up watching Nickelodeon could have spelt it out for them: this is going to blow up in your faces, as sure as Wile E. Coyote’s Acme rockets always blow up in his.

But no: I guess they didn’t see it coming. So, while they all applauded and supported Sven Giegold in his tirades against this country to date... which, in case everyone’s forgotten, were all centred on Malta’s presumed status as a ‘money-laundering paradise’ – they suddenly seem appalled and mortified that Giegold would go on to reach the only inevitable conclusion of his own previous arguments. They seem to think Giegold ‘crossed a line’ by suggesting that HSBC should pull out of Malta... even if, until just a couple of days ago, they were all vigorously agreeing with him each time he accused Malta of being ‘corrupt’, of facilitating organised crime,

of building its entire economy on dirty money... in a word, the sort of country which any serious, self-respecting, law abiding company would avoid like the plague.

Erm... sorry to point out the obvious, but... if Giegold was right about all that, then he must surely also be right to argue that HSBC really should pack its backs and leave this festering, stinking hellhole of corruption once and for all. And if he is wrong (today) to argue that HSBC should leave... then he must also have been wrong (yesterday) about the extent of the rot in this country to begin with.

After all, you cannot be both ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ at the same time: not in the real world, anyway... and probably not even in the bizarre and surreal fantasy world of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

So, my question for all the people who applauded Giegold when he made all his earlier arguments is... well, what’s it going to be, folks? Are we going to agree with him that Malta is a hopelessly corrupt country which no serious, honest financial institution should ever touch with a bargepole (like you were all arguing until just last week)... but then howl in indignation when that logic is followed to its natural conclusion, con- cluding that a global financial giant like HSBC should all do precisely what Giegold has been hinting all along, and pull out of Malta altogether?

The answer can’t realistically be both ‘yes’ and ‘no’, you know. Except that – wait, maybe it can. We seem to be living in a surreal fantasy world where it is perfectly possible (and as Snagglepuss would probably add: ‘laud- able, even-n-n’...) to hold down two perfectly contradictory positions at the same time. We say ‘yes’ to the proposition that ‘Malta is too corrupt for HSBC to stay’; but ‘no’ to the analogous argument that ‘HSBC should leave on the basis of this country’s corruption’. Try figure that one out...

And not only that: but it seems we even get kind of stroppy when our bluff is inevitably called. So, where the Nationalist Party spent the past two years lovingly repeating and propagating this same MEP’s every last anti-Malta rant... suddenly, they’re telling him to ‘fuck off’, and to keep his squeaky-clean nose out of our sordid affairs.

What can I say? This takes me right back to when I was around eight years old, glued to the TV every day from 6pm onwards. I honestly haven’t had so much fun in decades...

While I’m at it, I may as well mention a few of these great political geniuses by name. Among those who have consistently flanked and/or applauded Giegold as he bad-mouthed Malta were: David Casa, Roberta Metsola, Peter Agius (who used to write Antonio Tajani’s speeches, explaining why they always echoed Giegold’s concerns so precisely) and Therese Commodini Cachia... by my count, almost the PN’s entire lineup for next years’ MEP election.

Small wonder they’d be scrambling so desperately to distance themselves from their former friend and comrade-in-arms... now that he’s directly threatening the livelihood of at least 1,400 HSBC employees (all presumably registered voters), not to mention the financial peace of mind of everyone in this country who holds an HSBC account (I don’t have the figures offhand, but I’m guessing around half the entire population).

Way to go, folks! Good luck with the door-to-door campaigning...

Then there’s AD/The Green Party’s Carmel Cacopardo, who now tells us that he ‘completely disagrees’ with his political colleague’s latest outburst... when last year he had blogged that Giegold voiced the concerns of “all of us” (‘taghna lkoll’) by publicly accusing Malta of systemic, institutionalised corruption at all levels.

Hmm. Exactly how the leader of AD – a political party which never got more than 3% in a general election – could possibly speak on behalf of the entire country like that is, I suppose, just another wacky anomaly to add to the rest. But the real anomaly is another. If Cacopardo believes his own former assertion, and really does feel that Giegold was all along correct in his assessment about Malta... then quite frankly he should be the first to call for HSBC’s pull-out himself. Unless, of course, he thinks that banks should remain plugged into a system as utterly corrupt as he has consistently claimed ours to be... in which case, he is not exactly in any position to complain about corruption, now is he?

No, indeed. It looks to me that these people have all timed their dastardly machinations to spectacularly (and predictably) drop the boulder onto their own vehicles in- stead of the intended target... taking themselves clean out of the running in the process. But unlike Muttley, something tells me they’re not snickering very loudly about it at the moment. I reckon it’s more a case of: ‘Drat and double drat’... with all the snickering left to others.

All that remains is for Porky the Pig to pop out from behind the curtain: “Th-th-th- that’s all, f-f-f-folks!” For this week’s episode, anyhow. This is, after all, a never-ending race... and I’ve got half a feel- ing it’s about to get a whole lot wackier.

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