When the price is right  

“Joseph Muscat paid the price back in November when the decision was taken that he should step down from Prime Minister.” That, in so many words, was Prime Minister Robert Abela’s reply to questions from journalists about whether the disgraced and discredited former prime minister is untouchable.

Untouchable in the sense that, unlike in the case of former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, former Minister Konrad Mizzi and Nexia BT there has been no visible action taken by Abela on Joseph Muscat.

Abela first attempted to deflect the line of questioning away from the issue of the disgraced former prime minister’s untouchability by condescendingly asking the journalists to focus on the media spin of the day: some €55 million project being inaugurated with the usual pomp and circumstance in which our local species of politician revel.

With his customary robotic delivery staring into the blank space above the journalist’s head he repeated the mantra of his being available for questioning whenever, wherever – Shakira style.

Focus on the message we want to deliver. That was Abela’s drive. In the end, he reluctantly had to find a way to give some semblance of a reply to the journalist’s insistent questioning which is when he brought up this pearl of a statement: “Joseph Muscat paid the price”.

That is it. Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine… popoli. Robert the Confessor of sorts. I have previously referred to our maniacal obsession as a nation with all things sinful and absolution. Here was Abela wheeling out the tried and tested solution: ‘He paid the price’.

The disgraced prime minister’s removal from the driving seat has however turned out to be anything but a price to pay. The unseating happened slowly enough for the man who has barely an ounce of shame to embark on a whirlwind world tour on taxpayers’ backs (when it was not being sponsored by some mysterious backers).

Then there was the celebratory rock and roll farewell tour where the blind and the blinkered feted their hero and saviour.

To this day, the Labour coterie and Abela himself are unable to state black on white why the discredited former prime minister had to step down the way he did.

There are vague nods to his term coming to an end. There are unspecified references to generic mistakes of the past. Yet, for obvious reasons, there is no direct admission that Muscat’s position had become untenable for, among other reasons, his role in the development of a web of corruption and criminal activity within our system.

Abela wants the world to take comfort in the fact that the disgraced politician from Burmarrad no longer forms part of the decision-making Cabinet. Yet we have seen this film played before.

The farce that is Labour government accountability has already given us a prequel to the “he is no longer a minister”. Remember how the populator of assets segued from energy minister to minister without portfolio? What was meant to be strict disciplinary action intended to please the scrutinisers in Europe turned out to be a mise-en-scène.

Thanks to those theatrics, Mizzi remained firmly in control of contract after contract that has now been proven to have ruined our economic stability.

Deals with pilots, wind farm charades, gas deals and more – all fabulously orchestrated by a man who had supposedly ‘paid the price’ of having been (as his colleagues at the trough put it) naïve enough to get caught with his pants down – Panama Papers speaking.

Who do you think you are fooling, Robert Abela?

The disgraced former prime minister is still very much present on the political scene. His attempts at delaying his consignment to the dustbin of history are increasingly pathetic and yet we have no sign that any form of accountability will be forced upon the Chief Chef of the Corrupt Kitchen Cabinet.

It is an unfortunate reality of our political scene that the kind of subterfuge employed by Abela works. Our politicians believe that they can get away with a swiss roll for the elderly at a time when the COVID-19 omnishambles of Labour decision making is still claiming victim after victim.

But Abela wants us to focus on €55 million spent on another public project.

The problem is that we cannot trust any project Abela’s government chooses to undertake.

Is it a wonder that nobody wants to replace Victoria Buttigieg as State Advocate? Nobody in his or her right mind would want to be part of the mess of unaccountability and non-meritocracy the government now represents. With buffoons and charlatans drafting new laws, with ill-suited lackeys still firmly entrenched in decision making posts there is absolutely nothing to left to trust.

Abela speaks of prices. A €55 million project and a disgraced former prime minister ‘paying the price’. The price of everything and the value of nothing. That, in sum, is what Labour has come to represent.

The sooner those bumbling ditherers in opposition get their act together the better because in the meantime we are only delaying Taghna Lkoll Labour’s appointment with the dustbin of history. And at what price?


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