While there is no doubt that the head of government is responsible for the state of the union and the manifest corruption at each and every level of our society and whilse it is the sacrosanct duty of every journalist and columnist to lay this at his Castille door, it is only fair to give the man credit where credit is due.
This is not to mean that he is to be relieved of his accountability in all cases of corruption whether this be an Egrant or a Panama account, a Commissioner’s or Attorney General’s dereliction of duties or a building block in Rabat by an Education Minister’s canvasser. Whether it is the head of government or some other who is behind him that should take the credit is not for us minions to go into. That is another story.
For starters, I have known no other politician who understands better the psychology of the Maltese population. He appreciates what makes them tick, what their priorities are, what they lend an ear to, what means zilch to them. He is sure in the knowledge that the labour core vote is his, whatever.
He recognises that he need not waste time in pampering his faithful – a casual smile or hand shake, the regular government job and the like is all that is needed. He has noted the fact that the voting population is a Labour leaning one and only votes against in exceptional cases of extreme violence, education tampering, EU accession and such. All other things being equal, the people will vote Labour.
He did not upset the previous administration Nationalist applecart of economic stability. He rode on its wave and made it his as time went by. As he made his the EU presidency and Valletta 2018 which he exploited to the fullest.
He utilises his energy in the camp of the Opposition wherein lies a better harvest. Any rising star, columnist, broadcaster, disgruntled member or candidate is zoomed on, coaxed, offered a lucrative consultancy and enlisted. He does not waste time in write-ups like this that only reach the select few.
He eyes a man, an issue that commands popular coverage – a Bjorn, or a break-through in some criminal investigation where a Commissioner is neatly side-lined, and piles up the brownie points. He believes in the strength of marketing and never misses out on a photo session, of course steering away from such damning instances as visits to Azerbaijan.
When it comes to public speaking he is capable of turning an argument on its head, selling fridges in the North Pole and even beating the devil in quoting scripture to serve his end. When he finds himself with his back to the wall, a nonchalant ‘we are not perfect’ or ‘things could have been done better’ and the criticism is swayed and forgotten, possibly even to loud applause in acknowledgement of his ‘humility’.
He utilises his party stations to the full – no cookery sessions in prime time, every talk show is an exercise in party propaganda.
He dictates agenda, even that of the Opposition. Now let’s face it, should the Opposition have been led to debating lesbians’ sexual schedules when the country is in a mire of stalled traffic, concrete jungles, rising poverty – these are the country’s priorities, and not whether lesbians should qualify for sick leave when abroad.
Let them have their leave days, and let’s use the time to debate more urgent business such as the notoriously suspect transfer of Vitals Global Healthcare to Steward Healthcare. But no, that is left to be heralded during the Christmas period when everybody is busily shopping and singing carols. You have to hand it to him – the man is strategic and gets away with it.
Now, whether it is right to have a person with these credentials leading the country, is yet another story. If, as the saying goes, a people gets the government it deserves, if a leader is in the image and likeness of the people who voted for him, well then it is.
Dr Joe Psaila Savona is a medical doctor and a former MP.