A naive PN out­smarted by PL me­dia strate­gists

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Now that the dust has started to set­tle on the 2017 Bud­get pre­sented by Min­is­ter Ed­ward Sci­cluna, and politi­cians from both di­vides of the spec­trum be­gan to fo­cus on how to dis­sect the mea­sures that will shape our im­me­di­ate and long-term fis­cal and so­cial fab­ric, we are wit­ness­ing yet an­other me­dia cir­cus or­gan­ised by the party in govern­ment who hasn’t with­ered on its pre-elec­tion supremacy in han­dling spin.

The Na­tion­al­ist Party, three years down the line after its mas­sive de­feat, is still look­ing for rel­e­vance on na­tional de­bates, but un­for­tu­nately it is fall­ing on its knees be­fore Labour’s me­dia strate­gists. One would have ex­pected that the party of lawyers, the party which in­tro­duced free me­dia in this coun­try and the suc­ces­sors of great po­lit­i­cal strate­gists such as Louis Galea, Richard Cachia Caru­ana and Joe Sal­iba, would not be so naive and swal­low the bait strate­gi­cally placed by the PL on Mal­taTo­day last Sun­day.

It was the eve of bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion and the main story on the left-lean­ing me­dia

Ed­i­tor’s pick

wasn’t about the good­ies soon to be an­nounced the fol­low­ing day. In­stead it was an at­tack on the for­mer Finance Min­is­ter To­nio Fenech. The gam­ble was to get the PN to hide Fenech for the up­com­ing cru­cial weeks when peo­ple’s opin­ion is shaped on the state of the econ­omy. The PN fell for it. You may dis­agree with To­nio Fenech’s style of pol­i­tics and whether he should give up pub­lic ser­vice and fo­cus on his pro­fes­sional ca­reer, but one thing is for sure and this is his abil­ity to dis­sect the ini­tia­tives and the trends this bud­get is set­ting. Watch­ing a debate on ONE TV be­tween Min­is­ter Sci­cluna and PN MP An­toine Borg one im­me­di­ately re­alised that the PL pulled a big one on the PN by elim­i­nat­ing one of the very few, if not the only one, in the PN who can com­bat in de­tail the di­rec­tion this bud­get is giv­ing to the coun­try. The rich ex­pe­ri­ence held by To­nio Fenech after pre­sent­ing five bud­gets in a row and work­ing on an­other four which were de­liv­ered by Lawrence Gonzi when Fenech was his Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary shouldn’t be thrown out to waste by the PN lead­er­ship who, after Sun­day’s story, were some­what un­com­fort­able plac­ing Mr Fenech on the front­line to con­front Ed­ward Sci­cluna.

So far, and this could pos­si­bly change over the week­end, the PN has been very eco­nom­i­cal with de­tailed replies on the real ef­fect of the bud­get mea­sures and why, it seems, the PL govern­ment is tak­ing us back to the 70s fis­cal pol­i­tics when lit­tle mea­sures tar­get­ing small pock­ets of peo­ple are awarded with short­lived ef­fects, if any. One may ar­gue that To­nio Fenech is ac­tive be­hind the scenes pre­par­ing the am­mu­ni­tion for Si­mon Busut­til to de­ploy this Monday in his of­fi­cial re­ply to the Bud­get, but that’s be­sides the point we are rais­ing. The coun­try needs a strong Op­po­si­tion that can raise ques­tions of a fis­cal na­ture.

To­nio Fenech still mil­i­tates in the PN, so un­less his party’s es­tab­lish­ment want him com­pletely out of the pic­ture, they should make good use of his ex­per­tise while he’s around.

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