The Most Important Takeaways From Simon Busuttil's Interview
'I did not create this mess, I’m trying to clean it up'
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil's interview with Rachel Attard on INDEPTH this week discussed corruption, Salvu Mallia, gender equality, and the fate of the Nationalist Party at the next election. Aside from the distracting visual effects in the background, this was a solid 30-minute Q&A, acting as a well-positioned prelude to the upcoming year of campaigning.
Here's what we think are the most important points from the piece.
1. Busuttil's takedown of the Government for corruption
"It is a fact that this government is the most corrupt government in our history," was one of Busuttil's opening lines from the interview. Indeed he takes Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to task for what he views as a failure to tackle serious cases of corruption – he cites the Panama scandal primarily – that have come to pass under his government.
Busuttil also firmly states that under his leadership, cases of corruption will be duly investigated. "I am promising that the kind of corruption that is happening under Joseph Muscat’s government will be investigated. Not by me, but by institutions whose independence I respect”.
His point on corruption is well-articulated and carried as a theme throughout the entire interview. Busuttil repeatedly uses the metaphor of clean and dirty politics, positioning himself and his party as the alternative to corruption.
“I believe in clean politics, that’s why I am here”Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil – Interview with Rachel Attard, In Depth
2. His response to his lack of popularity
When Lovin Malta interviewed Busuttil last summer and asked him to comment on the apparent lack of confidence in his position as leader, his reply was that it wouldn't have been easy for anyone to follow in the steps of his predecessors. A less than gargantuan show of strength...
But when Attard employed a similar line of questioning, Busuttil came back with a whole lot more conviction this time. "If I started at the exact same position as Joseph Muscat, I would be way ahead of him. But don’t forget where I started this race – I wasn’t head to head with him, I started this race 36,000 votes behind him. So, yes, I am convinced that the good will certainly win."
So much so, that during the interview when asked point-blank if he believes the Nationalist party will win the next election, he was pretty damn clear with his response. Even his body language was angled as though he was just waiting for the election race start gun to go off.
"Yes, I am convinced that I can win"Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil – Interview with Rachel Attard, In Depth
3. His defence of PN candidate Salvu Mallia's public discourse
"He feels betrayed, he voted for Joseph Muscat because he thought things would change for the better. So while I don’t like many of the words he uses, I understand why he does. I understand his anger. Salvu Mallia is Salvu Mallia – let him speak".
A strong defence from Busuttil for a candidate who has roused the public and ruffled more than a few feathers. Perhaps the most important part of Busuttil's response was that he knows Mallia speaks to people who don't listen to the archetypal politician, and therefore the only thing that matters is that they are fighting for the same thing – to call out corruption. He also made clear that he is totally aware of Mallia's movements, including protests like the one he staged in front of Castille.
“I understand what is driving Salvu Mallia’s style, his anger, and his words"Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil – Interview with Rachel Attard, In Depth
4. His point that Joseph Muscat hasn't done an interview in a while
Busuttil pointed out that he was prepared to face questions but Muscat was failing to do so. His point was buttressed by Attard's confirmation that the show had reached out to the Prime Minister for an interview, but the invitation had been declined. Busuttil also brought up the fact that Muscat has refused to appear on Xarabank with him for three years running.
Well, we managed to get alone in a room with the Prime Minister. But, truthfully, he's been quiet on the interview front ever since.
5. The airtime given to gender equality
In a relatively concise interview, Busuttil dedicates time to talking about how his Party has been rebuilt in major part due to a new-found gender balance, and his firm belief in gender-equality – which he says has taken a backseat under the current government.
“I’ve given a clear message that I’m in favour of equality between women and men. I believe that women should be in the highest positions in publics professions”.
6. Busuttil's belief in the people, not the polls
When Attard presents data she has from the Labour Party stating that they are still ahead in the polls by 25,000, Busuttil comes back with his own figures. He claims to have narrowed a 12% margin to 3%, and that – anyway – his faith lies with the Maltese public and not with polls.
Busuttil makes a claim that “this government is lost in its own scandals”, and that he believes the nation will choose the right path in the next election.
"I have faith that the people will make sure that the good will win”Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil – Interview with Rachel Attard, In Depth
7. His appeal to everyone to get involved
When asked whether he ever feels humiliated by criticism from inside his Party or from the general public, Busuttil comes back with a steadfast response about not taking the easy road, but instead being determined on doing his part.
“In a political party and in a democratic society, no matter what, you will receive criticism. People who aren’t criticised are people who don’t do anything. I stood up to be counted".
Busuttil also makes an appeal for people to get involved in his fight towards a "clean" government.
“I stood up to be counted, I could have stayed where I was. I had a better job, a better pay, a better situation. But I chose to be here because I wanted to do my part. And that’s the appeal I make to everyone – both to people involved politics and those who aren’t – do your part as well. I did not create this mess, I’m trying to clean it up”.
"I did not create this mess, I’m trying to clean it up”Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil – Interview with Rachel Attard, In Depth