Now we know. Labour’s Desmond Zammit Marmara has all the answers. And he’s been kind enough to share his insight with the rest of us. The PN lost because of The Shift. You see, their constant criticism of the Labour government infuriated both Labour and floating voters. The country was so mad at the Shift that it decided to vote Labour.
“It is true that the Labour government had many flaws, some of them huge flaws,” Zammit Marmara wrote, “but you cannot keep criticising Labour about everything”. “There was a bombardment of articles where whatever Labour did was construed (impinġi) as wrong,” he added.
Just construed. Not that it was wrong, corrupt, illegal or immoral. Only that The Shift depicted Labour’s wrongdoing as, well, wrong.
According to Zammit Marmara, The Shift must censor itself and think twice about what to report. If it really has to report the facts it could at least mellow its tone. It could at least turn down its outrage at Labour’s blatant abuse of power.
The Shift should learn from TVM about how to bury bad news and hide embarrassing scandals or couch them in such a way that the ruling Labour government is not shown up as bad as it really is. Because you just can’t keep annoying Labour voters with the truth all the time. That’s just too much.
Sharing the blame for the PN’s defeat with The Shift, according to Zammit Marmara, was the PN itself. The PN should never have replaced Adrian Delia with somebody “with a dark shadow hanging over him because of failure to pay his taxes”. Especially when the Party’s battle cry was the rule of law and good governance. “You can’t preach about political honesty and integrity when your own leader fails the test,” he said.
When your own leader is involved in financial deals with one accused of kidnapping and recidivism, or suspiciously acquired a sprawling Zejtun ODZ property at a cutdown price just days after all illegalities were sanctioned while he was Planning Authority lawyer, you simply ignore political honesty and integrity. You simply stonewall all questions about your own dodgy past.
When your own leader, on the eve of the general elections, dines with a property mogul with multiple illegalities to his name and whose mega development in Sannat is given the green light a few days later, you simply claim you meet everybody and there was nothing wrong with meeting him.
When your leader rents out his property to Russian oligarchs to help them circumvent the rules to gain citizenship, you don’t make good governance your battle cry. All you have to do to win is stop preaching about political integrity. And discredit all journalists asking awkward questions by launching a pre-emptive strike accusing them of conspiring with the PN at Costa Coffee.
You win by rubbishing all claims about your wrongdoing and calling them “spin” or fake news. You discredit the meticulous detailed investigative work done by courageous journalists by simply refusing to even acknowledge the facts. You decline freedom of information requests. That’s how you do it.
The people are fed up with all this nonsense about political honesty and integrity – that’s why the PN lost, Zammit Marmara contends. Oh, and also because there were “groups of Nationalists, or ex-Nationalists or pro-Nationalists who pursued their own agenda independent of the PN”.
Who might these be? Well, according to Zammit Marmara, it’s NGO Repubblika, Occupy Justice and “the Daphne Caruana Galizia followers”. He concludes they angered many Labour voters and floaters: “These caused the PN a lot of harm”.
Zammit Marmara meticulously explains what it was that irked Labour voters so much – Repubblika, Occupy Justice and ‘the Daphne crowd’ kept painting Caruana Galizia as a national hero. They kept repeating the slogan “Daphne was right”. And they kept organising vigils for four and a half years. This was just too much.
In order to win big in Malta, you must first understand what really truly irritates the Maltese. You have to psychologically analyse the intense deep revulsion of the Maltese public for sanctimonious preaching about integrity. You have to stop exposing scandals. We’re not interested in scandal, or corruption, or murder for that matter.
We really don’t mind-blowing somebody up when they get too nosy. We’re not fussed about handing a €4 billion deal to Ram Tumuluri and his friends. And we’re not really fussed that barely two years into the concession Tumuluri grabbed the money and ran.
We don’t mind paying through our noses for gas bought from Shell through SOCAR for millions more than its market value. We’re not going to get mad because of the millions in direct contracts to our friends and party funders.
We’re not going to get angry because the government’s Transport Authority was condemned by the court for scandalously circumventing the law by secretly extending the Valletta-Birgu ferry service to Zammit Tabona. We’re not going to get hot under the collar just because the government illegally awarded a quarter billion euro SVPR contract to DB and James Caterers.
It doesn’t matter that the Electrogas bid did not even comply with minimum requirements to win the lucrative contract or that it was our own Nexia BT that adjudicated it. Or that Nexia BT also sat on the Vitals adjudication panel.
We’re cool about one of our Cabinet ministers holding a piece of our national heritage in his backyard, or one of our MPs taking thousands from a suspected murderer and protecting him at the council of Europe. We don’t get angry at the thousands of euro Karl Stagno Navarra still collects from the failing Air Malta. Or the thousands Joseph Muscat earned from Accutor AG.
We only get enraged when the truth keeps being brought up and when the past is dug up. “The people aren’t stupid – they can distinguish between writing of quality and politically biased mediocrity,” Zammit Marmara concludes. Obviously, he can’t.