The past masters at the national political table remain the Nationalist Party. Their main, driving, argument used to rebut the Labour party and its new leader remains the “past” and past positions of the Labour party. Often you cannot blame them. The bungling past of Labour is not destined to vanish so soon and the Utilities Bill issue is a case in point. I had already mentioned this earlier on J’accuse but then I found this report on the Indy where the PN was telling Labour that it was in no position to give lessons regarding the adjustment of the utilities bill.
The Nationalist Party said yesterday there were no lessons it could take from the Labour Party about the water and electricity bills. When in government and oil was at $12 dollars a barrel, the PN said, the MLP had raised the utility charges and made them higher even than they are today. The PN was reacting to an MLP statement calling on the government not to look at the water and electricity tariffs as merely an accounting exercise. What Labour had done had provoked a contemptuous reaction and accusations from Labour’s side itself that the Labour government had lost its social bearings. Joseph Muscat, today’s Labour leader, had at the time praised the high bills and described them as “just”, the PN said. The Labour Party was today completely cut off from the global economic reality and from the fact that oil today cost $143 a barrel.
Which is what I mean when I say that Joseph has an uphill struggle to sell something that is more than an “idea” for change. Joseph cannot deny having written ad nauseam that Partnership was the solution and that joining the EU was a disaster in the making. He cannot deny having backed ridiculous tariffs when the price of the oil barrel was nowhere near todays. He has been warned – there is a thickly researched file at the spanking new Dar Centrali. There is Joseph’s position on everything under the sun cleverly recorded by himself while he was still climbing up the slimy ladder of local politics – the only way most people climb it … by toeing the party line until some Damascene revelation suddenly shows them a different world out there.
Joseph would love for us to conveniently forget all his previous positions because now it is different. Now he is leader. It took him four years in Europe to notice that Malta does have a say in big matters – not a very convincing stunt by my standards.
It’s not that there is no goodwill to listen to what you have to say, Joseph. It’s that there are many people who would say that the proof of the pudding (or pie – depending on your culinary preferences) is in the eating. You’ll always have the conservatives on your back reminding you of your past. But they’re not the only ones asking questions and wondering what’s behind the apparent turnaround; and while the nationalists would not be too worried if you kept on in this vague direction – the non-diehards will soon tire of seeing more of the same all over again, and before you know it we’ll be heading towards the “Wasted Vote” all over again.
And that’s a past I’d rather not return to.