Former PM Lawrence Gonzi warns against populist talk
Former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi yesterday insisted that politicians need to base their policies on values, and warned of the dangers of populist talk.
Speaking as one of the main speakers during a panel debate which was organised by the Times of Malta discussing the US Presidential election, Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right parties, the former PN leader and Prime Minister said that in Malta, politicians have to be very careful with certain statements because Malta has a reality of its own. Dr Gonzi was asked by the moderator to react to statements by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that like Trump, he is anti-establishment.
“Populism is the resignation of a politician to what the people want. But locally, we have to talk about values. We talk about everything except about the values and principles. If we start speaking in a way simply to please the public, we would be making a huge mistake.
“There are many who believe values change. I disagree. I think a certain number of values can never be changed. We need a politics of values to have politics of hope.”
Dr Gonzi said that one must not undermine the most advancement in civilisation, democracy. He said that the enormous impact of the economic crisis has angered the public and created a sense of insecurity with people turning against the establishment.
Alex Sciberras Trigona, former Foreign Minister said that this is not merely the effect of the economic crises, but has been coming from many years ago, when companies started to move to India and Mexico.
Michael Briguglio, when asked to speak about the social media, said that sites like Facebook and Twitter are double edged swords. “Let’s not blame social media. Don’t forget that what managed to gather thousands of people in Tahrir Square in Cairo were Facebook and Twitter.”
Wayne Flask, blogger and comedian, said that he cannot understand how the two major parties in Malta say that they are against the establishment.
“The Labour Party has grown close ties with the business class and the PN has done so in the past. I think the first thing we need to do is to ask ourselves is who the establishment is.”
Dr Briguglio said that the word establishment is a buzz word which is being overused, but does not mean anything at all. He said that populist parties are winning the language game, mentioning France’s Marie Le Pen as an example. Former AD Chairman said that the left wing parties have a lot to answer and have to come up with better alternatives to fight the far-right.
Also present on the panel of speakers is Josie Muscat who defended Donald Trump’s call to build a wall and compared it to the local scenario. “Wouldn’t you want to send back all the criminals, murderers and rapists?”
PD leader Marlene Farrugia, who was also present for the debate, said that the problem is not the left itself, but the fact that the left in Opposition changes once in government.
“The biggest example of all this is our own government. Isn’t it a leftist government that is giving away our land or dragging with increasing the minimum wage? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The Labour Party has moved away from what we campaign for. This government has drifted away from its own manifesto.” Challenged about the fact that she ran with the labour party herself, she said that she never knew of the pre electoral deals.
Photo: Michael Camilleri