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.
Claudette Buttigieg is a PN MP – firstname.lastname@example.org, 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