A pile of ash
When Joseph Muscat unveiled his Road Map on that screen some nearly four years ago full of pomposity, there was just a hollow idea on the board, a borrowed plan that failed to live up to its original purpose because to follow is not to lead, to copy is no
During his incubation as leader of the Labour Party, Dr Muscat together with Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi must have had their heads locked together, wracking their brains to find a way to cut the head of the dragon and take power over this country and its assets and control its population in a way that they become willing concede this same power and control over to them.
They watched, they studied, they baited. All that the Nationalist Party had done and were doing came under their scrutiny and no detail was left undissected. They regarded the Government of Gonzi and Fenech Adami as a business and watched it grow and produce. Leftist, socialist, thuggish politics was discarded to make way at Labour Headquarters for this new breed of the millennium, forward looking, modern thinking, gutsy but hopelessly unoriginal and blatantly crony and unscrupulous band of pretenders.
The problem with post-Mintoff Labour has always been and is especially so with Joseph Muscat’s leadership, is that it suffers from envy and has very little to offer in the way of honest intentions, clear reasoning and unencumbered projects that can add value to what is already existing.
Having a suspicious and untrusting nature it was quite normal for the point of departure to be one that assumed that corruption was part of the game. They cheat and they steal, was the premise of Muscat’s think tank about the Nationalist big shots. Anything they can do, we can copy and do better and do like them.
Heads came together, Konrad flew in from nowhere and brought with him a phony power station. This will be our rallying cry to arms. This will devastate Austin Gatt and Tonio Fenech. Our plan is big and our plan will succeed and we will do it in a flash. That was Plan number one.
Plan number two. Shoot the ducks from behind. Get the weaklings who are uncomfortable with not having more of the pie, over to us by simply promising them whatever they want.
Plan number three capitalised on the frustration that was felt when the Residence Scheme was removed and for a long time there was nothing in its place and when something was done to replace it, it was a big flop. This tied in with property development and a two headed hydra was created in the form of the Citizenship scheme and the licence to build.
The thing that must irk the Nationalist Party most, now in Opposition after a crushing defeat, is not the fact that they had gone ahead with the high water and electricity rates, the chaos of the Arriva public transport overhaul or the position on divorce, but that they exposed themselves to a takeover.
And it was massive. Once one corner was taken, the other came soon and the other after that. Because if there is one thing that the Nationalist Party in government suffers from, it is this distraction with themselves and the tendency to avoid conflict bringing on a kind of lethargic mentality and an assumption that things will simply sort themselves out or be forgotten. People sense that and want something to be done and decisions to be taken.
There is now a lot of catching up for them to do. Simon Busuttil keeps trying to put the gear into first and rev up the motor. That he has a keen mind is clear.
His speech on the budget was well delivered and made all the right arguments. But then the old fairy tale emerged again, like a little old teddy bear that we cling on to even though its eye has fallen out and its ears are bare and worn. The Rent Laws and by extension, the property sector.
After making the case that todays’ owners seek to earn a good rent on their property and therefore the government should step in to subsidise this rent for those who cannot afford it, he is perfectly comfortable at having private owners carry the burden for those who live in their rentcontrolled properties, something which today has been declared anti-constitutional, that is, the lease that converted to a contract and that is fixed at ridiculous rates. More like champagne socialism purchased from a low cost supermarket.
If something is to be done here, it is for the owners to have the same compensation from the government for the difference that they are being deprived of in income. So if it is ok for the tenants who cannot afford the rent, then it should also be respected that owners who are unable to receive their entitled earning, be compensated accordingly.
We have nothing against government coming up with alternative housing for those genuine cases where they cannot afford the rent or who are finding themselves without an alternative, but let’s not kid ourselves that everyone in this controlled rent housing is in a position of poverty or who has no other means. Indeed, many of the sitting tenants are actually better off than the owners.
To put it into perspective, such contracts may have expired in 1971 but still bind the owners to the agreement therein. That is four generations ago. 45 years ago. A quarter of a century ago.
So, when Joseph Muscat sat down with his cronies to come up with perfect model of converting energy from blue to red, from oil to gas and from transferring control from tenant to owner – first move signalled by the Café Premier story - , from Europe to Malta by the citizenship scheme, some people, many people, were intrigued. Maybe, finally, they thought, their justice had arrived.
But the truth of the matter is that for Labour, these things do not come naturally or genuinely. They are born of self-interest, not of social justice, vision or cooperation. And they are conceived in an ill manner with odd partners and dubious consequences. The opportunistic tendency is the prime motivator.
Today the government of Joseph Muscat is struggling. Suffering a significant drop in the polls and public opinion, they are on the cusp of being exposed yet again. One scandal after another has caused their monument to show cracks and begin dropping an arm or lose a foot.
Because whilst they were so preoccupied with the past of the Nationalist party, the world moved on. We now live in an age where there is diffusion of information and reputation has become the new capital. The currency of the new economy is trust. And unfortunately for Muscat, Schembri and Mizzi, they imploded and came crashing down in this department and lost all the trust of the people.
Today, hurtling towards them is a sharp and clear message regarding something that could not be seen before. The Panama Papers show us what happens to money that stinks.
The obvious non-starter and self-serving business of the notever-needed new power station running on LNG with Electrogas and the sale of the BWSC to Shanghai Electric is the emblem of greed and corruption and the sheer lack of good will and genuine intent to construct, to serve and provide.
Coupled with the shadowy setup of the Vitals Health project for the three hospitals, where we do not even know who the true owners of this company are, we are left with no other conclusion than that whatever may have seemed attractive four years ago, is now nothing more than a pile of ash.
Quite likely, E Grant is next.