The iniquity of ingratiation

Anyone who wants to receive favour from the leader must start by deifying him, and falsely bestowing on him all the best human qualities in the world. If he wants to receive an exceptional favour, he must assign to the leader supernatural divine powers.

This is exactly what Professor Stephen Montefort did while addressing a Labour Party rally at Qormi’s St George’s Square on 21 February 2022. The respiratory physician “showered Prime minister Abela with praise”, relating how his medical colleagues had pleaded with him to personally advise Abela to implement a national lockdown when the pandemic began in 2020. “Robert Abela stood firm and told me ‘No’,” Montefort said, “and time proved him right.”

Montefort is giving Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, a run for his money. Goebbels is known as the world’s most famous bootlicker. His letters are full of grovelling praise, including stories about how his experiences with Hitler transformed his consciousness. Like Montefort, Goebbels shared imagined scenes of glorious triumphs against various adversaries in which the Führer stood firm and unshakeable.

We have now entered a period of spectacular bowing and scraping in which a procession of sycophants competes publicly in stroking the ego of their flattery-addicted boss. Sucking up takes a variety of forms, from petty compliments to cloying flattery. And then there is the extreme self-prostration and self-humiliation in which the sycophant attributes mythical superhuman powers to the leader.

During an illness early in the Roman Emperor Caligula’s reign, a commoner vowed to give his own life if the emperor recovered. The man made his vow publicly, hoping through his extravagant offer to demonstrate his deep loyalty and to elicit a generous reward. When Caligula recovered, he chose to take the lickspittle at his word and swiftly ordered his execution. Death by sycophancy is difficult to top.

Professor Montefort has not vowed to give his own life, but he has sacrificed the nation’s trust in expert medical advice at the altar of Abela’s supposed superior mythical omniscience. Montefort sold out his own commitment to scientific method, and his own credibility, for the adulation of Abela’s superior vision.

Montfort’s fawning flattery elicits a mixture of annoyance, disgust, revulsion, and rage.

Disgust at the corny grovelling: “If he [Abela] emerged as a king in such choppy waters, what can he achieve without those obstacles?”

Revulsion at the hilarious hyperbole: “He [Abela] was a huge success but his brilliant performance exceeds even the highest expectations of those who, like me, admire him.”

And rage at the reckless damage his wheedling obsequiousness has done to people’s trust in the entire medical profession. Coming from a physician and an academic, Montefort’s creepy message is utterly repulsive: don’t trust science, ignore medical experts, Robert Abela knows better.  Trust only Abela’s gut instinct, he ignored the professionals, he rejected the experts, he scorned the science and he was right.

And to toe the party line, Montefort added for good measure, “We are approaching normality. He [Abela] is an easy choice for those who want a happy future.”

The very next day, England’s Chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty stated that the next coronavirus variants could be more severe than Omicron, and future winters will be tricky. New Covid variants may cause significant problems including a higher risk of hospitalization. England’s Chief Scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance added that “the virus will continue to evolve, and it will probably be quite fast for the next five years”.

“One thing this virus has taught us is not to be cocky,” Vallance said. But Montefort hasn’t learned this lesson. He degrades himself and his science in his obscene efforts to ingratiate himself with the prime minister. He pledges public allegiance to his idol while betraying the rationality of science and the honour of self-respect.

In a Chaplinesque conclusion to his speech, Montefort walked off stage, dropped his notes and almost tripped over them. In bending down to pick them up, Montefort presented his backside to the prime minister, his wife and the audience as the crowd applauded and the master of ceremonies lauded him for saving so many lives.


Sign up to our newsletter

Stay in the know

Get special updates directly in your inbox
Don't worry we do not spam
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
2 years ago

First he bent backwards to appease his idol, then he fially bent forward in ‘thrust position!

Last edited 2 years ago by Lawrence Mifsud
Charmain Vella
Charmain Vella
2 years ago

Thank you for this article

Theresa Galea Testa
Theresa Galea Testa
2 years ago

My reaction was similar, revulsion and disgust, glad to know I’m not alone .

Philip Hili
Philip Hili
2 years ago

As always! Perfect description of a physician and an academic ready to sell his soul to a corrupt Prime Minister.

Related Stories

ADPD takes Electoral Commission, State Advocate to constitutional court over electoral discrimination
ADPD, Malta’s longest-standing alternative to PL and PN, held
Election 2022: Out with the old, in with the new
Parliament will look very different in a few weeks’

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo