Some soul without a byline, presumably bound to their post in ONE News’ headquarters ad eternum, was whispering wistful, nostalgic overtures to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat earlier this morning.
Among the Labour Party’s three major stories on their website was a tribute to Muscat on the illustrious occasion of his eminence’s 50th birthday.
Surely, Muscat turning 50 is a veritable milestone worth commemorating when we consider just how difficult Muscat’s life has always been – we must celebrate a man who endured hardships such as having a father who owns a lucrative fireworks business and not knowing an honest day’s work outside of the influence of the Labour Party, be it through his previous life as the understudy of Alfred Mifsud at Crystal Finance (now deputy governor at the Central Bank) or his constant presence at former Labour Party leader Alfred Sant’s side before the latter was inevitably shafted for his disastrous stint at the helm of the party.
And, after all that hard work, surely one must allow himself the pleasure of spending tens of thousands of euros on luxury accessories for the wife and family along with more holidays in two years than you or I will probably get in our entire lifetimes. Just two days ago, The Shift reported how Muscat, the same man who was nominated as OCCRP’s most corrupt man of the year in 2019 and will be forever remembered with monikers like ‘The Poodle’ and ‘the artful dodger’, is still in possession of a diplomatic passport to facilitate his jetsetting across the globe.
Truly a working class hero for the ages if there ever was one.
And how does ONE speak about his legacy, you may ask? As a winner who brought the party back to life from the doldrums, of course. What did you expect, a thorough recap on every major corruption scandal that Muscat was at the centre of?
“Muscat became Leader of the Labour Party in June 2008, after the Labour Party had just lost another general election. His leadership brought a number of reforms that turned the Labour Party into a winning party. Under his leadership, the Labour Party won the general elections of 2013 and 2017. Thanks to these wins, the Labour Party implemented its electoral programme which brought major social and economic changes along with progress in civil rights,” the article reads.
“Joseph Muscat was prime minister from March 2013 to January 2020, a month after he had announced that he would resign from his position as Prime Minister and Leader of the party. Muscat was also a member of European Parliament and served in the administration of the Labour Party.”
That’s it – all we get about Muscat’s tumultuous downward spiral into history’s dustbin is the fact that he had announced his resignation in December 2019. Never mind the fact that his administration created a culture of impunity that directly facilitated the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, formalised wholesale corruption across every major industry in the country, and sold off key state assets like it’s early nineties Russia and the Soviet Union just collapsed.
The fact of the matter is that the Labour government is crapping its pants at the moment, and it is taking the kind of emergency measures which are designed to project an air of confidence and control and simulate a feel-good factor among the electorate.
When attempting to decipher what’s really going on within the Labour Party’s inner circles, it is important to read between the lines and put yourself in the probably unfashionable shoes of a typical party delegate. Last week, I wrote about how prime minister Robert Abela is so desperate to reinvigorate his waning supporter base that he is making overtures to ousted, formerly high-ranking members of the party like Rosianne Cutajar, Justyne Caruana, and of course, Muscat himself.
This is more than just a method of securing the complicity of fellow politicians whose crimes in office were so shameful they had to be sidelined so the rest of the mafia could continue operating – it is a way of securing the votes of the alienated supporters who previously depended on the clientelism of their ousted benefactors only to find themselves with a decapitated patron saint after shit hit the fan.
ONE News’ tribute to Muscat is a reminder that is directly addressed at these disgruntled supporters, too. It is a deliberately worded rallying cry that wants to induce a sense of longing for ‘the winning days’, the power drunk glory of a party that could smash all opposition without any mercy and get away with it.
An example of the feel-good factor which the Labour government relies on heavily in desperate times is its decision to finally take measures to rein in spiraling prices of food items. Earlier this month, the prime minister announced that the government reached an agreement with major food importers that is set to lead to a 15% reduction in the basic prices of around 400 different food items as of 1 February of this year.
Shortly after the measure was announced, the Chamber of Commerce sounded off alarm bells about the way in which the agreement was negotiated, indicating that there was a lack of transparency since major importers were being contacted individually and prodded to cut down the prices of key food items which are considered to be staple foods in the Maltese diet. The Chamber described the measure itself as cosmetic price-fixing.
Indeed, it is not the first time that the Labour Party made a short-sighted decision to buoy Malta’s steroidal economy and triage the erosion of the spending power of the average consumer. Another example was its decision to subsidise fossil fuel energy to combat rising energy prices while failing to make adequate, long-term investment in renewable energy at a time when doing so could have placed Malta ahead of the green energy curve.
Instead, Malta’s lamentable track record with green energy and the government’s failure to address the root of complex problems like inflation are just two other reminders of how far we are lagging behind with real indicators of social and economic progress that go beyond annual GDP projections. They are two examples which point towards a greater problem within a political system that has all but exhausted the credit it has with disillusioned voters across the whole country.
Malta’s very long road to recovery from the damage it is continuously suffering at the hands of Muscat and the merry band of thieves which succeeded him will only begin once Muscat himself gets to spend his remaining birthdays tasting the damp, suffocating air of a prison cell in Corradino.