Too much make-up

The Joseph Mus­cat we saw on Tues­day in Par­lia­ment was not the Mus­cat we saw on Mon­day. The make-up was a bit over­done – too white, I thought. But that was just the start.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Claudette But­tigieg is a PN MP – cbut­, twit­ter: @ButClaudette

When I walked into the Cham­ber on Tues­day, I knew that Joseph Mus­cat would be mak­ing a huge ef­fort to per­form well. The seats in the strangers’ gallery were fill­ing up. A man stared at me from up there. He was sit­ting right op­po­site the speaker. It took me a sec­ond to re­alise who he was. Neville Gafa’.

The pro­tag­o­nist of the health visas scan­dal was look­ing down at me – at us – with au­dac­ity, ar­ro­gance and spite.

When Renzo Pi­ano de­signed the main cham­ber, he wanted or­di­nary peo­ple to be able to watch over their politi­cians. Some­how I don’t think he had the likes of Neville Gafa’ in mind. Still, Gafa’ had the right to be there and I, as sure as the next Tagħna Lkoll scan­dal, was not go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated by his pres­ence.

The main star of the show came in and soon it was cur­tains up.

His open­ing lines set the mood. It was not just the words or the tone but mainly the ges­tures. Clearly this was a very well-re­hearsed per­for­mance. His boys and girls were ob­vi­ously in­structed to bang hard in ap­proval and ad­mi­ra­tion.

While on Mon­day Mus­cat pre­tended to dis­re­gard Si­mon Busut­til, he was clearly not tak­ing the leader of the Op­po­si­tion’s speech well. As Si­mon Busut­til gath­ered mo­men­tum – show­ing care, em­pa­thy and lead­er­ship – Mus­cat be­came more and more, well, bit­ter.

He lost his tem­per a few times. He kept butting in with per­sis­tent com­ments, es­pe­cially when Si­mon showed the an­nounce­ment which im­plied Neville Gafa in the visa scan­dal. He kept bar­rack­ing like a bully and re­peat­ing: “Where was the no­tice? Where was the no­tice? Where was the no­tice?”

By Tues­day he had calmed down enough to com­pose him­self. But I think he tried too hard to hide his deep anger at the good per­for­mance given by Si­mon Busut­til the pre­vi­ous day.

He gave it his all in the first half hour but had lost his own team 30 min­utes later.

He­lena Dalli was the first to doze off. Very soon, Eti­enne Grech fol­lowed.

The Labour MPs even­tu­ally did not even bother to bang on the desks. The cof­fees they brought into the House did no good. Slowly but surely his en­ergy dwin­dled away. Theirs dwin­dled faster.

To com­pen­sate, Mus­cat started over­act­ing. He went from com­me­dia dell’arte to melo­drama to slap­stick farce. Fac­ing the au­di­ence on his own, with very lit­tle sup­port from his back­ing vo­cals, Mus­cat re­sorted to ad­jec­tives ad­dressed at Si­mon Busut­til which are far be­low the dig­nity of an MP, let alone a PM.

What with the in­tended in­tim­i­da­tion from the strangers’ gallery and the rude­ness in the cham­ber, I got a taste of what the Mintoff days must have been like in Par­lia­ment. Who knows, per­haps Mus­cat was ac­tu­ally try­ing to em­u­late Mintoff.

To­wards the end of the speech, Mar­lene Far­ru­gia could not take any more of Mus­cat’s lies and twist­ing of the truth. In no small terms, she gave the PM a good piece of her mind, dis­rupt­ing his speech. She went on and on, in full flow, but the essence was that she sim­ply can­not take him any­more.

This woke up the bunch in sup­port of their leader. Some were tempted to de­fend him and an­swer her back. Michael Far­ru­gia made a poor at­tempt to shut her up by yelling garbage at her – but Mar­lene was soon an­swer­ing back like there is no to­mor­row and he gave up.

It was an in­ter­est­ing evening but there was no call for an en­core. The star left the House sur­rounded by his body­guards. The visas guy left the build­ing with his fel­low hench­men.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Fri­day 28 Oc­to­ber 2016

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