Past Masters

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.

4 responses to “Past Masters

  1. Michael Carabott

    Agree, yet still I say the man needs time. I know Joseph personally and i regard him as a respected friend. He has a massive job to do, so let him try and get on with it. Let me liken the situation to Gonzi’s ascent – he was an EFA acolyte for years. He behaved as EFA wanted him to and became the annointed one (yes people forget, Gonzi was annointed too). Now Gonzi had the shackle of inheriting an EFA cabinet – he was elected first time not by the people, but by his own party. However, once he got an electoral mandate, he bowed to calls for a reshuffle. My point ? People use others to get ahead – it’s the way politics works. Joe used Alfred just as Gonzi used EFA…
    The man first has to unify the party and can then work on attracting voters. If he cannot be seen to unify the split factions within the party, then he cannot ever hope to attract the floater – it’s a issue of mettle. But, again, the man needs time.

  2. danny attard

    The MLP statement calling on government not to look at the water and electricity tariffs as merely an accounting exercise ( i.e. returning the same NP claim made when labour had itself increased electricity tarrifs) was singularly naive; like putting on the light, putting down your trousers, exposing your vaugely healed wound, telling opposition exactly where they should aim their blows at.

    I hope that this is just a case of the team still being in a warming-up phase.

  3. Right analogy Michael but there is a huge difference of degree: Gonzi in 2004 did not have half the political baggage Muscat has in 2008.

  4. Michael Carabott

    very true, the man was pretty untainted… yet he did have a frumpy/arrogant/ corrupt cabinet – hence Gonzi PN for the campaign.
    My worry with the MLP is that delegates simply don’t know what to do with their vote. In my opinion, and this only my personal view, it simply did not make sense to vote in 2 old school deputies with Joe at the helm. 1 for party affairs perhaps, but there were some very valid people who were ‘discarded’

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