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In January, I wrote a column about ONE’s farcical, whitewashed tribute to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat on his 50th birthday. In that tribute, ONE had praised Muscat for reforming the Labour Party into a winning party while pretending that he isn’t also single-handedly responsible for the most corrupt administration our country has ever seen.

To say that Muscat finds himself in a pickle at the moment would be an understatement. When that column was published four months ago, we were hearing a lot about Muscat’s grand return to politics as an MEP candidate on behalf of the Labour Party, not so much about how he intends to artfully dodge every court case that’s haunting him.

However, in spite of Muscat’s obvious attempts to muscle in on his successor by using his corrupt stooges to whet Labour Party supporters’ appetite for his return, that whole grand return scenario seems to have torpedoed, which is exactly what this website had predicted while other newspapers went into overdrive to rehabilitate his image and report bogus internal party surveys attesting to Muscat’s electoral power.

I could see that these were more Muscat’s last dying throes as a politician rather than some sort of huge comeback, and I am unconvinced of any scenario other than this one.

According to the website of the Electoral Commission, the window for officially nominating both MEP and local council candidates opens from 25 – 29 April, which means that if we do not hear about Muscat’s nomination throughout the next nine days, all the hype will have been much ado about nothing. Given that Muscat knows full well that even a disgraced prime minister who had the luxury of buying off half the country’s loyalty needs to campaign, a last-minute leap into the fray becomes unlikelier by the minute.

Even if Muscat does decide to throw his hat in the ring, the fact is that the Labour Party will be getting far more than it would be bargaining for. Most of all, his successor, prime minister Robert Abela, will be forever remembered as the infantile princeling who could not manage to fill his predecessor’s shoes, something which Abela seems to want to avoid at all costs.

So, here we are – a disgraced former prime minister whose legacy is so toxic he is reduced to trying to shoehorn himself into the Labour Party’s campaign and propping himself up through the loyalists who owe him their career within the party, like for example his unofficial front within the party, incumbent MEP candidate Alex Agius Saliba.

Not content with using a former acolyte’s campaign platform to air his grievances and rattle his flaccid sabre, Muscat continued to attempt to impress us because he was given “the red carpet treatment” (really, Tim?) at the Woxsen University in Hyderabad, India, which is incidentally the hometown of the only other ‘bidder‘ who had applied for the hospitals concession when Vitals Global Healthcare were awarded the now-rescinded contract.

‘Sic transit gloria mundi’ is what I imagine Daphne might have written right about now.

Muscat’s takeover of the Malta Premier League is just about the only significant thing that’s happened in Muscat’s life after he exited politics. Although I did spend a decade of my life playing football, I never really understood the obsessiveness with which football fans follow the game.

But, I do know enough about it to know that a former prime minister becoming the chairperson of the premier league of a tiny Mediterranean nation isn’t exactly an “arani, Ma!” moment, especially when you consider that even then, Muscat’s nomination still faced opposition from within his own party.

Don’t take my word for it. Just look at how other former leaders of Western countries carry themselves and what they are doing at the moment.

Former prime minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron was appointed as minister for foreign affairs in Rishi Sunak’s ailing conservative government and is currently undergoing a reputational renaissance, emerging from the ashes of the train wreck that was Brexit as a surprisingly influential player in the ongoing power struggles in the Middle East.

Former prime minister of Italy Enrico Letta recently made the headlines for authoring a crucial report on the European Union’s rapidly declining single market. Fellow former prime minister Mario Draghi also authored a report analysing the EU’s competitiveness at a time when European insecurity about financial stability feels like it is peaking.

Across the Atlantic, former president of the United States Barack Obama makes regular appearances on the Democrats’ campaign trails, marching in lockstep with incumbent US president Joe Biden. Even former US president Bill Clinton, whose record will be forever pockmarked with sexual harassment scandals, was not considered toxic enough by his former party to be cast aside.

Of course, this is not to be read as an endorsement of any of these politicians, the decisions they’ve taken in their careers or the colossal errors of judgement which animated them, but merely as an important contrast to Muscat. Too often, we all become so entrenched in the ongoing affairs of this tiny island nation we call home we forget to look up and see what else is going on in the world. The political climate in the country is so extreme that it either takes up all your attention or makes you spend all your energy on diverting away from it.

The point is this: while other former prime ministers and presidents whose reputation maintains at least a scraping pass mark are strutting across the global stage, authoring vital reports, and supporting their successors on the campaign trail, Muscat must make do with questionable contracts with dodgier companies who just so happened to benefit from the decisions that were taken by his administration, making empty threats on someone else’s podium, decorative wreaths from a business university in India, and micromanaging a football league.

If you strain your ears, you can hear the loud thud of Muscat’s legacy as it lands in the dustbin of history.

To the ears of anyone with any love for this country, it is sublime music.

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