Raphael Vassallo | Sunday, 03 May 2009
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There can only be... um... 3 million

Whoever said our Prime Minister lacks an appreciation for high culture? Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing, I tell you! And just to prove that he knows a thing or two about cinema classics (if not about economic management), last Friday Lawrence Gonzi compared the Malta Labour Party to Christopher Lambert in Russell Mulcahy’s 1986 movie masterpiece (and an all-time personal favourite of mine), “Highlander”.

What do you mean, you can’t see the connection? No, never mind all those heads being lopped off all over the place (though I grant you, a few heads do need to roll the Glass Palace from time to time). The real reason Gonzi compared the PL to “Highlander” was because... drums rolling... “THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE”.
Yes, indeed. Only one Malta Labour Party. Not two, not three, not eight, not 27... just one. So let us be thankful for small mercies: it seems our Prime Minister is not only a connoisseur of high culture, but he even knows how to count. Is there no end to the man’s talents?
But in case you still doubt the veracity of my sources, this is what our Prime Minister actually said last Friday: “There is only one Labour Party (‘schling!’), and comments made by any of its spokesmen are also made on behalf of the party and its leader.”
Or words to that effect, anyway. And please note that the (‘schling!’) above is actually a sound effect inserted by yours truly, and did not feature in the original comment... which, to give it its full due, also included the point that if any one PL spokesman (for instance, Alfred Sant) says something at odds with the PL’s official policy line, then its leader Joseph Muscat must immediately “endorse” or “reject” the statement.
Ouch. Don’t know about you, but I smell the smell of a great big (‘piff!’) that will no doubt return to haunt Dr Gonzi in future. For you see, contrary to popular belief, I, too, know how to count – or so I always thought, anyway – and when I look towards the Stamperija at Pietà, what I see amounts to just one political party. Not two, not three, not eight... just one.
Nor do my numerological skills end there. Employing an elementary process of mathematical computation, I can also conclude (wrongly, as shall be seen) that if there is only one set of political principles by which the Malta Labour Party has to operate, or perish... then by the time-honoured logic of “sauce for the goose”, the selfsame set of political principles should also apply to the Nationalist Party (of which, as already established, there is “only one”, too.)
But does it, (‘beep!’). There may be “only one” Nationalist Party, but its spokespeople are legion, and they all appear to take unique pleasure in publicly contradicting their party leader at every opportunity. So what happens, you may well ask, when we apply Gonzonian logic to... hmm... Gonzi himself?
Let’s start with divorce: a civil right that Gonzi has made clear he has no intention of ever introducing. But while he is busy hammering this message home, one of the MEP candidates contesting on behalf of his own PN has made the introduction of divorce one of the mainstays of his campaign.
So excuse me, Dr Gonzi, but... shouldn’t you now either “endorse” or “reject” Edward Demicoli’s comments on divorce?
This, by the way is the same Edward Demicoli who also disagrees with the National Party’s official position on hunting. Even as the Nationalist government reaffirms its commitment to fight on behalf of the hunting community in the European Court, one of its own MEP candidates claims that he will pull in the clean opposite direction if he gets elected – always on behalf on the PN, by the way – to the European Parliament.
So Dr Gonzi: how many PNs did you say there were? Because I can see three separate ones in the above two paragraphs alone.
And how about VAT on car registration tax? One second the Nationalist government insists it will not reimburse citizens on VAT collected illegally since 2004... and the next thing you know, in steps PN candidate Roberta Metsola Triccas Etc., to argue that it should.
Then there’s Vince Farrugia, whose reasoning (in 1996, at any rate) appears indistinguishable from Alfred Sant’s in 2009. VAT, he argued back then, was not a good thing for the country. But where Joseph Muscat is expected to take a public stand on Sant’s comments today, Gonzi feels no pressure whatsoever to “endorse” or “reject” his own party’s star candidate’s identical views.
Conclusion? Unlike “Highlander”, there is not “only one” Nationalist Party. There are around three million. The PN of Lawrence Gonzi; the PN of Edward Demicoli; the PN of Roberta Etc.; the PN of Vince Farrugia; the PNs of Frank Portelli and/or Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando (both of whom vociferously disagree with their party’s official line on immigration); the PNs of Peter, Paul, Mary, John, Tom, Dick, Harry, Frederick, Nimrod, Jesmond, Josmar, Osric...


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