Malta doesn’t need the Nationalist Party to replace the Labour Party in government. What we need is the people of goodwill within the Labour Party to take back what is rightfully theirs: the chance to deliver the democratic will of the people without jeopardising the great vision they themselves have crafted and the results it is already delivering. Whoever fails to stand up to be counted will meet the same fate as those who made the same mistake within the Nationalist Party. And those who speak up first, will earn the most credit.
There must be someone in the Labour Party who can see the writing that’s on the wall and take appropriate action before it is too late. Perhaps there is someone who has been around long enough to see governments come and go, like Evarist Bartolo, Alfred Sant or Edward Scicluna. Maybe it will be someone who remembers how invincible the Nationalist Party seemed only a few years ago and how inaction and silence towards the PN government’s past excesses dented the credibility of those, like Simon Busuttil, who came seeking public support afterwards.
Surely there is at least one Labour leadership hopeful who can look to the future strategically and realise that as the world’s greatest news organisations descend on what looks more and more like a tangled web of corruption, everything the Labour Party built over the past five years is at stake. Someone like Chris Fearne, Miriam Dalli, Ian Borg or Robert Abela, who all hope to stick around long after the myriad of magisterial inquiries are concluded. Never in history has there been such a great opportunity for one of them to do the right thing for the country, the party and their own self-interest all at once.
After everything is said and done, do they want to be remembered as the people who let Malta’s name get mired the world over? Or do they want to be remembered as the ones who stood up to be counted when it seemed most risky to do so?
In truth, it’s not risky at all, if you have the political nous to read the situation for what it is.
The stage has been set perfectly: Joseph Muscat has promised to leave before the next election and the Nationalist Party is light years away from having a fighting chance at getting elected. This leaves a very specific leadership vacuum – a great opportunity for somebody within the Labour Party who has the foresight and confidence to be a few steps ahead.
The next election is going to be very different from the last one. It won’t be Joseph Muscat vs. Daphne Caruana Galizia. This time the entire country – Labour supporters included – will be looking for somebody who can finally put an end to this never-ending saga of corruption allegations and damning international front pages. Who will this person be if not somebody who speaks out now before it is too late?
“The next election is going to be very different from the last one. It won’t be Joseph Muscat vs. Daphne Caruana Galizia.”
Surely there is somebody in the Labour Party who loves his party more than the trio in Castille and can see the giant crack developing underneath the seemingly indestructible wall of power.
Yesterday was only the second day of The Daphne Project and we already have concrete evidence that the Panama companies of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri were not only set up in the exact same way but were destined to receive $2 million from a Dubai company. We also know now that this company 17 Black received $2 million from an Azeri national and the local agent for the tanker supplying gas to the LNG power station a few months earlier. And the denials issued by Mizzi and Schembri contradict each other in a very telling way. Schembri is claiming 17 Black was just part of a business plan for his wide network of companies that the was meant to have given up when he became chief of staff. And Mizzi is still insisting his was a family trust all along that was nothing to do with business. On the other hand, the published emails clearly show Nexia BT desperately trying to open bank accounts for the companies of both men in the Bahamas and speaking of them simultaneously as part of the same wider business project. This can’t be explained away.
Despite all this overwhelming evidence of corruption emerging everyday, the man in the street would gladly stick to the competent Labour Party over the shambolic PN. Even those of us who voted PN at the last election don’t feel as compelled to do so today. But that sentiment won’t last forever. When so many seeds of doubt are sown, it only takes a sudden change for the tide to turn aggressively.
“Despite all this overwhelming evidence of corruption emerging everyday, the man in the street would gladly stick to the competent Labour Party over the shambolic PN. Even those of us who voted PN at the last election don’t feel as compelled to do so today. But that sentiment won’t last forever.”
Remember how Joseph Muscat’s election to Labour leader changed the polls overnight? The public was dying to stop voting PN and all it took was a young new leader who had something interesting to say for the floodgates to blow open. Suddenly, anybody who remotely defended the past PN administrations became irrelevant. And for PN to become electable again it has to almost completely disown its past. Who would have thought?
Today it may feel impossible for the same to happen to Labour, because the Nationalist Party shows no signs of recovery. But in politics, recovery is only a matter of time. A good leader can rise from the ashes overnight, just as quickly as the Azure Window can fall and disappear into the sea.
The question is: will the good leader rise from the PN’s abyss or the Labour Party’s pipeline of talent which has worked so hard to get there and already delivered so much for the country in the past five years?
Most people seem to think that the corruption crisis can only end with the government falling and it being replaced at an election by the Nationalist Party. But until there is solid leadership, organisation and vision within the Opposition – which takes years to build – that’s not only extremely unlikely to happen, it’s also far from desirable.
Instead, there is a very real opportunity for the Labour Party to rise to the occasion and guarantee itself decades of more success if it acts now before it is too late.
Maybe it will be the younger generation that does it. The Randolph Debattistas, the Daniel Micallefs, the Desiree Attards, the Naomi Cachias. Maybe it will be the good women at Lead. Or the Labour supporters who will gather at Triton Square on May 1st to celebrate Workers’ Day. Maybe they won’t give Konrad Mizzi a standing ovation. Maybe they’ll spontaneously boo instead and send a strong message to the administration that they demand better, and while they fully support the successes brought about by this government they don’t want the conductors to keep putting everything in jeopardy to preserve their own financial interests at the expense of the interests of workers.
It all seems fantastical today, like this can never possibly happen within a Labour Party that’s been so carefully curated and cultivated. But it only takes one credible voice to take a stand and give courage to all the others who everybody knows are dying to speak out.
“It only takes one credible voice to take a stand and give courage to all the others who everybody knows are dying to speak out.”
One credible person can shake up the entire system and trigger a process that ensures the country gets what it desperately needs right now: a proper transition towards a competent and clean Labour government that can continue the great work started by the Joseph Muscat clan but eradicate the idea that to be successful you also have to be corrupt – an idea that has already permeated too deeply into Maltese society and must be culled before it brings everything down with it.
Some people think Joseph Muscat will go down in history for his economic prowess or liberal awakening. Others think he will be remembered for permitting deep-rooted corruption and endangering Malta’s key industries. There is, however, a third option.
Maybe Joseph Muscat’s legacy will be to rid the Labour Party of its collective inferiority complex once and for all.
Maybe, just maybe, he taught people within the party today to be self-respecting enough to realise that what they have helped build is worth protecting and preserving for the future, and that they are not in this position of strength because of corruption but in spite of it. That the collective is stronger than the individual and the vision is stronger than the man but a real sum of the party as a whole.
“Imagine how much bigger and stronger the Labour Party will be if it was not only seen to be visionary, organised, energetic and competent, but also clean and totally above suspicion.”
Imagine how much bigger and stronger the Labour Party will be if it was not only seen to be visionary, organised, energetic and competent, but also clean and totally above suspicion.
In business, you’re often told to future-proof what you have and try to pre-empt a situation where a competitor comes along out of the blue and takes away the customer base that you’ve painstakingly built over many years. Very often, to do that, you must have the foresight to envisage what your greatest competitor can look like and turn yourself into them before someone else does.
The PN missed that opportunity five years ago and look at where it has left them.
For Labour, it’s not too late. And this is what it needs today. This is what Malta needs today. This is what all men and women of goodwill should be demanding, whether it’s at a Daphne Caruana Galizia vigil or a Labour Party mass meeting.
We need the Labour Party to transform itself into its most dangerous competitor. And we need the good people inside the party to believe – for it is demonstrably true – that they have it within themselves to achieve this. As well as the responsibility to get the job done for the future generations of the party and the country.
Will the real Labour Party please stand up? This is your time. And it’s only running out.