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Political earthquakes like the ones which happened throughout this week – the Vitals inquiry – tend to bring the bigger picture into sharper focus by virtue of the sheer impact of the implications which are attached to them.

Those implications are what has brought the Labour government to its knees. And yet, there are still so many of us who, after years of rampant corruption and total impunity, refuse to believe that this is really happening.

Don’t take it from me – take it straight from the horse’s mouth. Just look at the panic-stricken “interview” which prime minister Robert Abela gave to culture minister Owen Bonnici’s former romantic partner, Janice Bartolo, the one and the same who was directly appointed to five government jobs in as many years. Bartolo, who used to pretend she was a journalist in her ONE days, didn’t really ask anything – it was a set piece that was so devoid of any critical thought that it would have made the propagandists at Pyongyang turn green with envy.

The “interview” was the government’s sad attempt at rallying the troops following Abela’s disgraceful decision to leave a Parliamentary session and hold a press conference instead, where he spent most of his time landing more blows on the judiciary as well as the journalists who were hounding him with questions. Like an ailing rock star leaning groggily on the opening acts, Abela’s rambling statements were buttressed by three of the Labour Party’s younger politicians – parliamentary secretary for public works Omar Farrugia, MEP candidate Marija Sara Vella Gafa’, and Labour MP Cressida Galea.

The main thrust of their overall message was abundantly clear: even though nobody else sees it in this way, the local council and MEP elections have been turned into a battle for the Labour Party’s survival. The key to unraveling this is how they all keep referring to this as a vote of confidence in the government, presenting the MEP and local council elections as a choice between the hot streak of economic successes which the government claims it is responsible for or the cold, dark, bitter, hateful world that we’d face should the Nationalist Party be elected, a pearl of wisdom that is repeated enthusiastically by younger members of Cabinet like Farrugia.

In other words, there is nobody who is more afraid of losing this election than the Labour Party. There is an obvious degree of self-consciousness within Labour that is highly uncharacteristic of an organisation which takes pride in its belligerence, and this is plainly visible in the way their messaging carries such a desperate tone.

Given the fact that the prime minister has lived the entirety of his life ensconced in the safety of the real, actual establishment he forms an integral part of, it is clear he is unaccustomed to fear. In this respect, he could not be more different to his disgraced predecessor Joseph Muscat, who can mouth lies in the same way he would mouth an oath without missing a beat. The more Abela tries to look like he is calm and serene, the more he looks like he is absolutely fuming.

While trumpeting his party’s bogus economic achievements, the prime minister continued his crusade against the opposition and anyone who has ever uttered a critical word about his party, with the younger stand-ins really going for the jugular in their attempt to impress Dear Leader in their precious few minutes of fame.

Vella Gafa’ railed against the Nationalist Party, claiming that it is made up of individuals who have “clearly shown us that they only want one thing – power,” adding that “these people are willing to destroy one of us (Joseph Muscat)” in the process. She even went as far as personally calling out Repubblika president-elect Robert Aquilina and criminal lawyer Jason Azzopardi, stating that she does not wish to live in a country which responds to the calls of people like Aquilina and Azzopardi.

“The more they attack us, the more we stand united,” she gloated, completely ignoring the fact that the reason why we hold MEP elections is to ensure that our representatives in Brussels do their best to fairly and objectively represent their constituents’ interests as opposed to the interests of their party. Presumably because she is convinced that we all have shit for brains, Labour MP Cressida Galea had the cheek to actually describe the Labour Party as a “reformist party”, as if Labour’s cheap use of civil rights to mask its totalitarianism is somehow new to us.

Even the minor talking points which Abela brought up to shore up his party’s claims of benevolence are as hollow as a bamboo stick.

As Abela sat there waxing lyrical about giving people what they want (which is, apparently, heaps and heaps of sanitised landscapes that are passed off as green urban spaces), I thought of the unfettered greed that has taken over public space in the same town Abela was busy patronising. While gushing over the beauty of Mellieħa’s townscape, Abela didn’t mention that the Planning Authority recently sanctioned the illegal takeover of its square.

While rattling off praise for the government’s consistently positive indicators of economic health, Abela does not acknowledge that the increased amount of wealth that was generated in the country throughout the Labour government’s tenure is going more and more into the hands of the haves and less and less into the hands of the have-nots.

Abela even stooped low enough to suggest that the Nationalist Party’s MEPs who are advocating for increased defense spending across the European Union are basically warmongers, in contrast with the Labour Party, which is all about giving out flowers and advocating for peace and love, man. To suggest that the war in Ukraine and the genocide in Palestine can be resolved by simply advocating for peace is either deliberately simplistic (because the Labour Party has no skin in the game and affords to do so) or outright ignorant (because it fails to take into account Europe’s urgent need for deterrence against aggressor nations like Russia).

Not content with implying that PN MEPs are all joyful and happy about the prospect of sending Europeans to war, Abela went even further, accusing them of being so blinded by their lust for power that they are willing to destroy the government’s economy by appealing to Brussels to cut off funding in light of the government’s corrupt misuse of said funds when it comes to infrastructural projects. Of course, what the PN’s MEPs actually did was ask for tighter scrutiny from the European Commission and for more accountability in instances in which it becomes clear that the Maltese government has misused EU funding, but in Abela’s world, anything is possible if you say it enough times.

The lust for power that Abela regularly accuses the Nationalist Party of having sounds a whole awful lot like the power-lust written all over the face of a certain prime minister who was itching for a spot at the trough so bad he just had to accept his predecessor’s poisoned chalice.

Perhaps he’d like to tell us a bit more about lust, power, and the downfall of all who mix the two together after his predecessor and half his former Cabinet are hauled off to prison.

It’ll make for more relevant content than this pathetic “interview” with Janice ever will.

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