The people’s virus
The weekend began with the virtual strokes of Big Ben marking midnight on Friday and the beginning of the official withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. The lemmings who gathered in Parliament Square to cheer Nigel Farage and provide a karaoke rendition of God Save the Queen could barely contain the joy of having acquired their newfound “Freedom”. Little did it matter that no one could be found to explain what exactly they could do now that they could not do before. “We got our courts back from Germany” drawled one of the more coherent of interviewees. Right.
Meanwhile, another virus spread alarmingly and risked provoking mass hysteria peppered with bouts of xenophobia and random racism. On Sunday though, the beginning of the reversal was trumpeted by Italy’s appropriately named Health Minister (Speranza – Hope) who announced that a team of Italian scientists had isolated the coronavirus. The battle is not over yet but science’s next victory over ignorance and superstition is around the corner. Which cannot be said for the scientific battle against ignorance in the field of politics.
That ignorance virus fights deep into the heart of a democratic society. It is there to be abused of by the corridors of power and, no matter how many times we isolate it as the cause of the latest wave of mishaps that are virtually killing our systems of support, it manages to morph into a newer, deadlier and worse version. Worse still, in the post-ideology era, this virus seems to be here to stay.
A virus in government
A major victim of this virus has been the disappearance of any form of accountability in the political sphere. Last week I spoke of Robert Abela’s strange concept of the idea of governance. His leitmotif of “leave us govern” is based on the idea that the legitimacy of governance is supported by a wave of popular approval. Sunday’s polls projecting his and his government’s popularity to dizzy, unassailable heights will serve to reinforce this credo.
What they want us to forget or ignore is that “leave us govern” is posited at a time when the system within which the governors operate is broken down to the point of non-operation. The cosmetic changes to the government have put a very fragile mask on the glaring abuses made under the watch of Abela’s predecessor (with Abela as legal advisor). Abela’s clumsy reshuffle does nothing but postpones the inevitable – at least insofar as proper accountability is concerned.
In the meantime, the farce is maintained in full. Abela finds himself in the unenviable situation where any action concerning the disgraced Muscat’s cabinet and its politics will boomerang into his face. Ranier Fsadni documented this perfectly in his ‘Abela’s can, Muscat’s worms’. Public contract after public contract will necessarily come under scrutiny sooner or later. The Electrogas Lies, the Hospital Scandal, Identity Malta scandals, public property dealings – these are just the tips of the iceberg.
How many more agreements, employments, tenders and contracts can Abela and his team realistically terminate without reaching the obvious conclusion that the whole of Muscat’s government is untenable? At every Cabinet sitting there is an elephant in the room, and it is only getting bigger.
Now Abela has an Education Minister found guilty of repeated human rights violations. His justification for keeping him? The courts are working and Owen was only doing his job. And the people applaud.
Air Malta is beginning to feel the effect of Konrad Mizzi’s creative accounting a year ago. Will heads roll? Of course not. Just as in any other field where the corrupt and incompetent have dipped their dirty hands there will just be business as usual. It is after all the people’s assets and the people’s money that are being gambled away (while persons of trust still get their retainers come what may). And the people want to LET THEM GOVERN.
A virus in opposition
This week also saw former Strasbourg Judge Giovanni Bonello issuing a damning indictment of Malta’s court dealings with libel. Malta’s judges are on a huge losing streak in Strasbourg when it comes to libel cases and, funnily enough, it’s because they seem to side too often with those who should be left to govern. One man who had dabbled in libel cases against a journalist shortly before she was brutally assassinated was not, however, from the Labour side. Or at least we hope so.
Adrian Delia is a dead man walking. Metaphorically and politically, I hasten to add. He tops the latest unpopularity polls with a vengeance. Which is not much to write home for a leader of a party that, for want of creativity, might soon call itself “Popular”. Delia’s plight is of little concern to me as regular readers may know. What is of concern is the inability of the party in opposition to grasp the fact that the time for partisan politics is over and it is not a new leader that is necessary but a new system that requires – alas – the death of the party itself.
Civil movements and NGOs have been instrumental in uncovering the farce that is our political system. The struggle continues and faces the most formidable adversary – the virus of ignorance that is fortified within the walls of blind allegiance and partisan idolatry. So long as solutions continue to be sought within the ranks of the diseased parties, we are doomed to be stuck in a Groundhog Day full of empty promises of reform that return us back to where we started.
So long as we the people fall for the “let us govern” mantra, then we, the people, are doomed to fail.