I write this with a sense of sadness and pessimism for the near future, but simultaneously with a lot of optimism for the long term.
There was a time during the Nationalist administrations when the opposition to the government was overwhelmed with a great sense of helplessness and that whatever happens, Labour would remain in Opposition for a very long time. Today, many people feel the same with regard the Labour Party.
The Labour Party has won a sweeping victory not only in politics but also on a cultural level. On a political level, the victory of the Labour Party is crystal clear as the main Opposition party, the Nationalist Party constantly fails to pull off a decent opposition to the government. It’s a tragic sight as most of the Nationalist MPs seem to serve only for the sake of conserving in existence the formality of an Opposition. A protest here, and a speech there does the trick, but the Nationalists have nothing near the organised and effective political structure, motivation, network and grit of the 1980s.
On the other hand, Labour has also won the culture war. By rooting itself in all spheres and institutions of society, Labour can successfully influence and control all non-political elements of society: football, the arts, the university, the culture industries, the hunting lobby, the band clubs and many more. Recently, Labour has also successfully divided and conquered the press and is bulldozing its way with press reforms which the majority of journalists have clearly opposed. Labour is so confident of its victory that it can knowingly and consciously lie about its press reform, and also knowing very well that even though everyone knows it is lying, it still has the power to do anything it wants. Even Labour does politics only for a formality: a formality which has become totally separate from its activity of governing the country. The formal part is the fraudulent narrative and the governing part is kept secret. These are totalitarian elements of a dictatorship in the making, but I am also confident that Labour’s dream of achieving absolute, one-party status will also be its own undoing.
Labour has so far succeeded in winning the relative majority at the polls by successfully cushioning the negative economic effects of the current and recent economic crises via public finances. Then there is the rampant nepotism, bribery, corruption and the buyout of special interests groups: a case in point is the hunting lobby by giving it public land. This is the easiest way to win the election but it’s a very bad way to run the country. Taking on debt to subsidise your way out of the crisis should come with an economic programme which will bring back sustainability in public finances and further economic growth, but so far the government’s plan for the future seems to be 5 million tourists brought to Malta by low-cost airlines and more rampant construction. Occasionally, Miriam Dalli, the Minister of Energy will make a press conference and announce a green space which is actually a parking area, with a concrete roof that has some plants on it.
So, given that the Labour Party is distributing public land to special interest groups, plundering the environment, feeding a construction frenzy to abet its donors at the expense of homebuyers and young people, bulldozing over journalists, covering up for criminals, and overall wrecking the country, it needs a simple, non-controversial stand which gives it the appearance of a progressive party and what better can this be other than LGBT rights?
Irrespective of the homophobia and transphobia in society, which unfortunately still exists, the reality is that there isn’t a substantial sector of the electorate which is going to be alienated by the fact that the government supports LGBT rights. And the people who would choose not to vote for a political party just because it supports LGBT rights, are only a handful of lunatics who vote for these nonsensical religious extremist parties no one even knows about it. Young people understand what I am saying, but people aged 40 and more may not. Given that older people have been brought up in a society which was more homophobic than the society of today, they may still think that it is a big deal that the government will be offering sex-change operations on the NHS, and thus it is deserving of the progressive mark.
After breaking the rule of law, Labour will now begin its process of breaking free speech and conquering the whole information and media sector. After the political monopoly, comes the media monopoly. While Labour slowly nibbles away at our free speech with its totalitarian laws, it is building a media empire with fake media outlets that prop up constantly from nowhere, are purely subsidized by the government and actually act as government propagandists. Those like me who know the people in power slightly better than the average person are aware that Robert Abela’s intentions are far more sinister than what he is trying to project. Labour aims to achieve permanency in power and to do so there are many stages it needs to go through. The stage of breaking the rule of law is over. Today, we have a one-party rule with an ineffective Opposition and state institutions which are totally captured by the Labour Party. The next step is subverting democracy and abolishing free speech to prevent any future challenges to its rule.
Yet, Labour’s biggest struggle is conserving the chasm between what it says and what it actually does. Its fraudulent narrative is unsustainable with an ever-growing demographic which is more informed thanks to the pluralism of the internet. Labour is banking on the past and generations of uneducated people who will believe anything the state broadcaster will announce. Labour is literally fighting against time. The good news is that when the political change will happen, Labour can be devastated because once it loses the trust of the majority, it will be near impossible to gain it back. After you’ve wrecked the country and the environment with an irresponsible construction frenzy, priced out the young generations from the property market, covered up corruption and abetted political criminals, ransacked the country with your donors, and designed laws which will suit your ends by breaking the press, people will only remember you as a reckless and corrupt entity that took power for its own personal interests. There are many people at Mile End who seem to be suffering from dementia since what I have just written were the exact same feelings many people felt and still do with regard to the Nationalist Party. It’s not surprising to me that Robert Abela is totally oblivious of the long-term damage he is inflicting on the country and on the Party: he’s riding it like a joy ride. A little kid who has never had an accident in his life is suddenly riding a car full speed ahead on the motorway. The probabilities of an event are astounding.
And it wouldn’t take much for Malta to cross the Rubicon and return to normality and stability. The country is getting so wrecked irresponsibly that it would only take someone normal to pose as a serious contender to the totalitarian shambles of the past. That’s where someone like Roberta Metsola would come in. Someone who could inspire young people yet is downright boring, normal and very predictable. We are back again in 2008 when we were desperate enough to look for a political leader who had nothing spectacular nor special, but is just decent enough to bring back the country into a state of normality.
Excellent article. Thank you. I wonder if in a future article you might explore the possibility of a major split within the Labour Party led by a headstrong Chris Fearne bent on revenge. If he were to acknowledge the corruption and pledge to do things like prosecute Muscat, Schembri, Mizzi and Abela, and replace the AG and the police commissioner, for starters, he might get his own back on the corrupt cabal as well as save his beloved party from the Opposition.
I’d far prefer to see Roberta Metsola lead the country but I wonder if there is any chance of Labour healing itself.