Malta's Parliamentary Sessions Are Crying Out For A Dose Of British Wit
Why our politicians need to take a chill pill (and a few lessons in banter).
Maltese culture is unique in many ways, but it’s also a mix of various cultures that have colon—erm, influenced us across our varied and checkered political, social and cultural history.
Nowhere is this cultural mix more evident than within the walls of our own parliament, where the country’s most crucial public representatives get together to discuss some of the most important and urgent subjects pertaining to the country’s well-being. And in Malta’s case, they tend to do this by screaming at each other
This has only gotten worse after parliamentary sessions began to be televised. Even the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia has singled out as a root cause of MPs ‘acting out’.
Perhaps exasperated by this state of affairs, Nationalist MP George Pullicino was inspired to post the following status update on Facebook, after watching outgoing British PM David Cameron deliver his departing salvo at the House of Commons.
This could of course be something of a post-colonial hang-up in and of itself (“Why can’t we puny Maltese get our act together and try to be as damn civilized as these Brits tend to be?”) but it’s worth giving old George’s fantasy a bit of a ponder.
So here are a few gems from our own parliamentary sessions, placed side-by-side with their British counterparts.
1. Konrad flips out
One of the ages. Dated from back in May 2015, this iconic meltdown by then Health and Energy Minister pre-dates his troubles with the Panama scandal.
But the outburst against Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil certainly did him no favours, even at the time. Watch and cringe as the situation escalates to the point where Speaker Anglu Farrugia is driven to turn off Mizzi's microphone. Stay for Farrugia's death glare, though.
House of Commons mashup
Hey, we never said that the parliamentary sessions at the House of Commons weren't loud -- just that they're more witty and generally more fun to watch. The baying from either side of the house would drown out even Konrad Mizzi at his worst. But even then, watching this compilation is ten times more fun than having to sit through Konrad's tantrum.
2. "Nigi ghalik u nifqak"
Another iconic moment from recently televised Maltese parliamentary history, this incident landed fiery veteran Labour MP Joe Debono Grech into hot water after he allegedly threatened independent MP Marlene Farrugia with the words "nigi ghalik u nifqak" ('I will come over there and beat you up').
Watch the entire session spiral out of control as neither Labour MP Luciano Busuttil nor Speaker Anglu Farrugia manage to keep order in the House.
By way of contrast, enjoy this compilation of mic-drops from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, whose guttural shouts of "Order!" are topped only by the crystalline wit of his remarks.
Observe as he recommends yoga to particularly belligerent MPs and denounce even the comparatively benign word "con man" as being "unparliamentary" (wonder what Joe Debono Grech would have made of that one).
3. Simon soldiers on
Oh, Simon. Wasting the chance to lay it into the Labour Party with panache right after the Panama scandal breaks, the Opposition leader instead plays it safe with his usual preachy style.
Any wind in his sails is taken out by the time he utters the terrible gag of "Trust, for this government, doesn't mean 'faith', but the hiding away of money..." Farrugia imploring him to "keep it short" certainly doesn't help, but Simon soldiers on, to little effect or impact.
Banter crash course: Cameron vs Miliband
Proving that brevity is indeed the soul of wit -- and proving that Simon Busuttil could learn a thing or two from their exchange -- Cameron and former Labour leader Ed Miliband exchange a delicious ping-pong of banter.
So was George Pullicino right? How do our politicians fare when compared to their UK counterparts? Let us know on Facebook, or send us a Snap!