A naive PN outsmarted by PL media strategists
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
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.