There’s a very strange and bizarre feeling in Ħamrun. It’s like the lull of a cynical calm. Top Labour Party officials and close officials of Prime Minister Robert Abela know and understand very well, that whatever happens next, the future of the Party doesn’t involve Robert Abela and all the while they know this, they go about their daily work mechanically biding their time. They are suspended in a transient phase while waiting for Robert Abela’s leadership to come to an end and none of them have yet, had the courage to spell it to him verbally, in clear and unequivocal terms. Not only did they learn nothing from their experience with Joseph Muscat but they have become even more submissive and afraid than before, and indeed, Muscat used to be confronted and disagreed with much more often.
You may remember this post about Robert Abela’s political future. Slowly, and gradually it is being understood by many Labour Party delegates and insiders that Robert Abela’s criminal history and current cover-ups are damaging the Party’s reputation. There was a similar feeling when the Panama Papers broke out, only that back then people in the Party confronted Muscat openly and even publicly. This time around, no one wants to speak out because Robert will kick out anyone of them who dares to criticise him internally and in public – so far, on this, he has been very consistent.
Inside the Party, even the big names have entered into quiet and cynical silence. Clyde Caruana doesn’t seem to be trying any longer after his platitudes have long fallen on deaf ears. And the only significant political group in Labour right now distinct from Robert’s close circle of friends is Miriam Dalli’s faction that aspires to take over the leadership of the Party. I don’t think there was ever a time in the history of the Labour Party when the leader was so detached and alienated from his top Party officials and delegates. Even at a wider level, Robert struggles to get the numbers. He’s really nobody without the Labour Party, unlike Joseph Muscat who has and still owns his own persona. And the Party, with its network of local committees, can still bring out its members for mass meetings, but Robert himself, can’t get a decent crowd to meet him on Sundays.
These are not just signs of a leadership crisis in Labour, but also signs of demoralisation and internal political decay. Rampant, nepotism, corruption, and careerism have turned the Labour Party into a job centre and a market. It is definitely no longer a political party.