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Much has been said about prime minister Robert Abela’s tantrum during a tense meeting with his parliamentary group on Tuesday.

According to MaltaToday, Abela went on a blame spree, pointing his finger at everyone around him except for himself. Housing minister Roderick Galdes was apparently given a bollocking and a half over the Siġġiewi social housing block fiasco. The party’s internal administration got a thrashing for being ‘out of touch with members and committees.’

The really messed up bit in this story is the claim that Abela apparently blamed the Vitals inquiry arraignments for the dismal results but failed to acknowledge the fact that he launched a full-scale assault on the judiciary. Distraught Labour MPs clearly felt compelled to speak into MaltaToday’s confessional booth. They complained of Abela’s lack of strategic direction on practically every major crisis this government has faced under his tenure. As the nuclear fallout from the Vitals inquiry coats everything at Mile End, they are bracing themselves for another dismal result in the local council elections. The vote counting process for local council elections begins today, and is set to finish by Friday.

The internal dissent brewing among Labour’s ranks is no longer internal. Like rats looking for exit points in a burning building, Cabinet ministers, members of Labour’s parliamentary group, and party functionaries have been venting their frustration to the press for at least a year now. At the very least, it began with the Labour Party’s embarrassing U-turn on the Jean-Paul Sofia public inquiry, and hasn’t stopped since.

This anonymous frankness with mainstream media is very telling of the state the Labour Party is in because it is the most media-averse political party in Maltese history. Both Abela and his disgraced predecessor Joseph Muscat were instrumental in ensuring Malta continues to languish in the rankings of RSF’s Press Freedom Index. Both of them have used their office to dismiss the work of credible journalists who exposed their crimes. Their party hardly ever breaks ranks to speak to the press, and yet here we are, reading about a deluge of complaints.

The fury with which the Labour Party’s members seem to be opposing Abela’s style of leadership would be laudable if it were not laughable at this point in time.

By the second time Muscat was re-elected in June 2017, anyone who did not leave the Labour Party on moral grounds was either not fully comprehending the scale of the fraud we were already coming to terms with or was simply riding along while the going still seemed like it was good. By the time Muscat resigned, remaining in the party was inexcusable. Every shameless opportunist who remained after that deserves everything that’s coming to them, so forgive me for not shedding any tears for the party’s impending doom.

When the charges against Muscat and his former associates were filed, I had no doubt that this would be the beginning of the end for the Labour Party, before I had any access to the contents of the inquiry which those charges were based on. No magistrate in their right mind would recommend the issuance of such charges against a couple dozen of high-profile politicians and their enablers unless they were absolutely certain of the quality of their investigative work. Judging from the report’s contents, the inquiry’s investigation is a veritable masterclass in the art of reconstructing carefully concealed crimes, though you won’t hear Muscat or his former acolytes telling you that.

Yet again, Abela made a grossly erroneous judgement call and chose to defend Muscat instead of opting for a clean break from his administration and letting justice take its course. All Abela had to do was stay out of it while making it clear that such corruption would not be tolerated under his leadership. He instead chose to enable it and then do some more of it.

This is why I think the Labour Party’s lack of self-awareness is so severe it basically amounts to self-sabotage. How could the members of its parliamentary group complain about Abela’s lack of introspection when they are unwilling to challenge him publicly about it? According to Article 81 of the Constitution of Malta, the House of Representatives can pass a motion of no confidence in the government. If the motion is approved by a majority of the House, the President of Malta can proceed with the removal of the prime minister.

Article 81(1) of the Constitution of Malta.

So, what are the Labour Party’s parliamentarians waiting for exactly? Nothing like some good old-fashioned mutiny to get your nervous system all worked up. Perhaps it will jolt some life into your spinal cords and remind you that nobody really respects politicians who are unwilling to stand up to someone who they clearly know is unfit for the job. Abela can huff and puff about leaving on his own steam all he wants – the fact is that nobody in his party trusts his judgement.

Of course, the problem for the Labour Party is what to do if yet another one of their prime ministers ignominiously bites the dust. Who the hell wants to inherit an office that is at the heart of multiple inquiries into criminal wrongdoing? Who the hell would want to substitute an infant-tyrant who has plunged the country further into debt in a disastrous failed attempt at retaining voter loyalty? The other alternative is to double down on the current trajectory while hoping the public will eventually forget all about the government’s transgressions. In other words, let the house burn in the hopes that the flames will die out on their own. Fat chance of that.

Faced with an impossible situation where he will inevitably lose, Abela’s panic is writ large on his face. It can be heard in the totally surreal declarations he is making to the press whenever his authority is questioned. He claims that the electorate still trusts the Labour Party, and that a few policy tweaks and concessions (oh dear) to the public will somehow make amends for the cynical asset stripping which his predecessor and his associates are being held accountable for.

“The moment has come to take decisions that can no longer be postponed,” Abela muttered cryptically to the Times, generically referring to policy areas in which his administration trounced over the electorate’s wishes for the last decade: the environment, over-development, women’s rights, and overpopulation.

We’re going to change, he promises. This time, we’re really going to listen to you, he adds.

Before giving that comment to the press outside Parliament, Abela was doing some desperate damage control on the party’s channels. He fibbed and fibbed some more, telling us that his administration will no longer waste taxpayer money “on cushy jobs”, implicitly admitting out loud that they were doing so up until they realised the electorate wants to have their guts for garters. Incredibly, he told us that his party “will now be guided by the truth”, yet again implicitly admitting that before, this was not the case.

Specifically, he is either admitting that his party is a corrupt, lying outfit and that they are going to change now that their power is facing a real electoral threat or he is simply saying whatever he thinks will help save his skin. After four years of Robert Abela’s U-turns, I think we all know which answer is the correct one.

NGOs and lobby groups who are fooled into thinking that Abela’s sudden repentance is a sign that they are finally willing to start listening to the electorate have learned absolutely nothing about the Labour Party’s mode of operations. Do not trust the judgement of anyone who thinks there’s still any negotiation left to engage in. The only negotiations we should engage in ought to be entirely focused on loosening the Labour Party’s grip on power, and that begins with the removal of Robert Abela from prime minister.

It is obvious that Abela is far too obtuse to actually consider his own resignation, and every day he spends at the helm of the country is another day gone to waste.

If there is anyone with a spinal cord left at Mile End, do make yourselves known. We’d love to hear from you.

It’s not like any of you have anything left to lose, anyway.

One Comment

  • Jean says:

    Keep up the good work. There is a light at the end of the tunnel now. People couldn’t see one before and Daphne’s assassination heralded very dark days. The clouds are lifting. One day at a time…. Keep up the scathing truthful articles. Keep appearing in court, and we will keep supporting ❤️

    Ahna li vera Malta go qalbna. Inhobbha hafna lil Malta u hemm bzonn ta tindif minn dan il qerq kollu.

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