Come off it, you’re both ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’

Malta Independent - - SIMON ON MONDAY -

‘The es­tab­lish­ment’ seems to have be­come the catch­phrase of the day in Malta, with both the coun­try’s two main po­lit­i­cal par­ties hav­ing pointed ac­cusatory fin­gers at each other and call­ing each other ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’.

But in to­day’s post-truth, or shall we say post-Trump, pol­i­tics, who is the real es­tab­lish­ment?

‘The es­tab­lish­ment’ is gen­er­ally de­fined as a dom­i­nant group or elite that holds power or au­thor­ity in a na­tion or or­gan­i­sa­tion. And by that gen­eral def­i­ni­tion, and the def­i­ni­tions do vary widely, the PN-PL du­op­oly are, to­gether, the es­tab­lish­ment.

The op­po­si­tion Na­tion­al­ist Party had been in power for a good 25 years, give or take a cou­ple of years in be­tween, be­fore be­ing ejected from the seat of power by the Labour Party’s and Joseph Mus­cat’s Move­ment.

The gov­ern­ing Labour Party, mean­while, has been in power since 2013 and, by def­i­ni­tion, it is the es­tab­lish­ment of the day.

The truth of the mat­ter is that nei­ther of them is right. In ac­tual fact they jointly form the es­tab­lish­ment. They have both jointly con­trolled the coun­try as a du­op­oly for decades upon decades on end. To­gether, they

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form the rul­ing class and call it what you will - The Es­tab­lish­ment, the Pow­ers-That-Be, The Man – they are the ones who have pulled the strings and who have called the shots, many times ir­re­spec­tive of who is ac­tu­ally in power, since this coun­try’s In­de­pen­dence.

They have both fought tooth and nail to keep any other party out of Par­lia­ment. They were once known col­lec­tively as the MLPN (Malta Labour Party + Na­tion­al­ist Party) and while the acro­nym no longer ap­plies af­ter Labour’s change in nomen­cla­ture, the gist re­mains the same. It is a du­op­oly es­tab­lish­ment.

But since the whirl­wind elec­tion of Don­ald Trump a few weeks ago way over on the other side of the At­lantic, the ‘es­tab­lish­ment’ buzz­word has been re­ver­ber­at­ing across the Mal­tese po­lit­i­cal spec­trum.

A sim­ple re­view of press re­leases is­sued by both the Na­tion­al­ist and Labour par­ties since Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion shows Labour ac­cus­ing the PN of be­ing ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’ no less than nine times, and six times be­tween July and Trump’s elec­tion, while the PN has la­belled the PL ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’ three times.

This, of course, goes with­out men­tion­ing the dozens of times the buzz­word has been used by as­sorted politi­cians and pun­dits alike on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide. Now in the wake of Don­ald Trump’s sur­prise elec­toral de­feat of Hil­lary Clin­ton at the US polls, af­ter his anti-po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment cam­paign – in which he de­fied both the Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment and the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment (on whose ticket he ran), every­one ap­pears to be jump­ing on the anti-es­tab­lish­ment band­wagon.

The Sun­day af­ter Trump’s sur­pris­ing vic­tory, both the PN and PN lead­ers sought to quickly jump aboard that band­wagon, and la­belled each other ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’. And they have, to vary­ing de­grees been do­ing that ever since.

The truth of the mat­ter is that they are fool­ing just about no one but their own dogged fol­low­ers.

Rid­ing on the coat­tails of Don­ald Trump’s stag­ger­ing suc­cess in the US will do no one any good what­so­ever, and both par­ties are, truth be told, do­ing noth­ing than shoot­ing each them­selves in the foot by ac­cus­ing each other of be­ing the es­tab­lish­ment. They should both drop the cha­rade and get on with their re­spec­tive busi­ness of gov­ern­ing and op­pos­ing… as this coun­try’s es­tab­lish­ment.

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