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Dead man talking

Saviour Balzan argues that Lawrence Gonzi is the perfect stand-in for Dead Man Walking

Today’s issue of MaltaToday, the election special describes Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando’s mindset. I have to say I quite understand his decision to lambaste Simon Busuttil.
Simon is today the official campaign strategist for the European election (together with his buddy Stefano Mallia) and has decided to take on JPO.
He is of course entirely justified in expressing his opinion. But his lack of battle-readiness is apparent when it comes to weighing the realities of political boomerangs. JPO is not exactly someone you can ridicule or send to a gulag. He is in the enviable position of being in a government with a one-seat majority.
Yesterday on NET radio I listened to Simon, needless to say talking in his saintly voice – which obviously strikes a chord with thousands of Middle Earth soft-spoken Nationalists – and he said that we should not forget that this is not the national election but the European election. In other words, he was emphasising that if the PN does badly in these elections it does not really matter.
What a stupid comment!
He went on to say that in the last election the people had chosen Lawrence Gonzi. Of course there was the usual applause to such a declaration. Yet Simon conveniently forgets to mention that had JPO not been shielded and positioned favourably by Gonzi et al before the last days of the last election, there is little doubt in my mind that today we would have Alfred Sant as Prime Minister.
The few hundred votes between the two parties could easily have moved from one border to another, had the electorate been aware of the whole JPO Mistra saga.
But JPO is a hurt man. He has experienced first hand what it means to be sidelined by Gonzi and his lieutenants. Perhaps many onlookers will recall that JPO ‘was’ one of Gonzi’s closest supporters and someone who stood diligently behind the former Speaker of the House in his Fenech Adami-backed campaign to become leader of the PN.
JPO may possibly regret having taken such a stance. He seems to be under the impression that the Gonzi clan are not to be trusted. He has been ostracised and left out in the cold.
In the meantime, Gonzi – in typical tradition – has left destiny take its own course – and chosen to ignore JPO. But he cannot ignore JPO. He could ignore JPO if he had a two or three-seat majority. With a single seat majority, JPO has more influence than one could imagine.
And with all the present discontent in the PN ranks, Gonzi is essentially a perfect candidate to be a ‘dead man walking’. This is further attenuated by the general demise and incompetence that surrounds his campaign team, captained now by Simon Busuttil, who as we have heard from the bewildered Alan Deidun, is a perfect replacement for Lawrence Gonzi.
Surely something that has made JPO far more uncomfortable. Simon Busuttil has a political career which emulates the rise and fall of Valentino, complete with peacock feathers, velvet cushions and flashy bulbs. No dishwashing, no back-room jobs, no potato peeling. Busuttil’s climb in politics has been one amazing unstoppable catapult into space. Busuttil has never had it so good.
A bright kid by all means, he is a fine example what a Nationalist should look like and sound like. But really and truly he is decades away from the pains and aches of the Nationalist electorate. The burly guys from Zebbug and Naxxar, the militants from the seventies who have no time for silly arguments on how to use buttons in the European Parliament. No connection to small businessmen and to the real suffering the middle class.
Simon, according to Deidun, is PN leadership material, but what the hell does Deidun know about the PN or leadership? All these upstarts who land suddenly inside the PN think they know something about the PN. But they should really return to their roots and do what they are best at doing. In Deidun’s case I guess it has got to do with biology, you know birds, bees and nasty creepy crawlies!
Simon is in no position to lecture JPO. The new party he represents, known as GonziPN, is in no position to dictate to JPO.
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Election frenzy at Ta’ Qali
The Labour party is of course having a field day. Yesterday at Ta’ Qali with the music score to Slumdog Millionaire and Coldplay blaring in the background, Muscat did his best to rise to the occasion. It could not be any easier for Labour.
But in his political declarations, Muscat is rocking the principles, which are sacrosanct for a modern social democrat. Watching the Labour supporters gathering Ta’ Qali you could see that the party has found the vitality that you would have found in the PN.
But in doing so, it is getting carried away and on the verge of losing its soul – some would argue that they never had a soul. The PN may have made false promises on many fronts, but the PL should not tackle the issues from a strictly populist point of view.
And Muscat has looked at the surveys and seen what the people are worried about: desperate Africans in boats are at the top of the concerns of most people. But it is a false concern, motivated by the need to find a scapegoat. In doing so, we are fomenting more xenophobia than this country deserves.
Then there is the issue of free health. Once again, the debate of free health is a difficult discourse. There is no such thing as free health: if anyone wants to have a feel of free health, then one should only see the number of medical services which are unavailable to the general public.
So Muscat should not get carried away. There is little doubt in my mind that if he ever gets to Castille he will be faced with other realities which are linked to the limited finances of this country. As a social democrat he should worry over the future of the underclass and the underprivileged who will never get to the private health many Maltese presently utilise to bypass the many dysfunctional public medical services presently on offer.

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