So, OK, technically we have been expecting an election since the beginning of the year or basically, every time Franco Debono opened his mouth.
But now, with JPO no longer part of the PN parliamentary group, things are hotting up even though the Prime Minister is doing his best to play it cool. In public he is saying that he intends to ride out his full term (which takes us to March at least), but we all know better.
Here are the signals that we will probably have an election by October.
- Bring out the billboards. On Friday, the PN hired trucks and cranes to start erecting billboards in the middle of the night. Who cares if Labour’s billboards have been dotting our roads for months, it’s the ones by the PN which indicate that it’s all systems go.
- Stop attacking Jeffrey and Franco, go back to attacking Muscat. This is an old ploy, used on Alfred Sant with great effect, so much so that even Labour voters towards the end of the 2008 campaign were starting to doubt if Sant really should be given another chance. In fact, the demolition process on Sant was so ruthless and complete that the PN won. Again. The same thing is already happening to Joseph Muscat and his family and if we thought 2008 was characterized by dirty politics, I bet we ain’t seen nothing yet.
- Resurrect the ‘Alla hares jitla’ l-Labour’ mantra. It is a fact that, to this day, Labour is still paying a high price for the arrogance and corruption (not to mention the political discrimination and violence) which marked its last years in power. Indeed, the spectre of the ’80s has been used in every election campaign I can remember. As we have seen in the four of the last five elections, that phrase still manages to scare enough people who might be teetering on the brink of not voting, to go running back to the PN fold. The irony, of course, is that this time round, it is the PN which has been in power for far too long, and doesn’t want to loosen its tentacles from Castille because, hey, it’s good to be the King. And while physical violence has not yet raised its ugly head, those thugs hanging around the PN headquarters as JPO was entering the building gave me a sickening feeling of déjà vu. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people who have been at the receiving end of psychological intimidation because they do not support this government. You know, little things, like the fear of losing your job, for example.
- Reinforce the belief that if the PN does it, it must be right. It is no secret that I do not have a high opinion of the PN, but they do have my grudging admiration for how they manage to take their own unethical behaviour, spin it round in their super duper spinner, and churn it out to place it back squarely at Labour’s door. Take the infamous RCC tape in which he is heard criticizing Guido de Marco and Lawrence Gatt. Obviously, someone in the PN circle must have taped the man, and this same person kept the tape for this precise moment, and handed the tape to the Labour party. Should the Labour party have broadcast this tape or resisted the temptation to use it out of respect for the deceased Prof de Marco? That is debatable, in the same way we can debate whether Gordon Pisani should have just happened to have taped JPO and used the conversation at such a convenient point in time. What is clear is that there was (and is) a lot of taping going on by the Nationalist Party as a form of ‘insurance’, some of which is now falling into the Opposition’s hands. It is also clear that the de Marco family’s statement has managed to ignore what RCC actually said, and instead, has condemned the Labour party for putting the tape into the public domain. I can empathise with them, of course – no one wants to see a late member of their family dragged into this sorry mess and used for partisan motives. Yet, the statement was still baffling because of what was omitted. (As I said in a previous post I do not agree with the headline which was used by Malta Star which did not accurately convey what was said on the tape).
- Keep drumming it in: If you vote Labour, you are “jaqq”. Sigh – yes, this old chestnut again. Like you, I come across plenty of unpleasant, uncouth, uncivilized people, and usually their politics have nothing to do with their behaviour. They are who they are because of a number of circumstances, usually traced back to family upbringing and education (in the sense of manners rather than schooling). This persistence in dividing the nation into well-mannered (puliti) and crass (hamalli) according to who they vote for is not only senseless but incredibly bigoted. And in case you didn’t know, bigotry is a sure sign of ignorance. In my book, it is equivalent to refusing to sit next to someone because of the colour of his skin. Can we ever rise above it? I like to think we can if only because – unless someone enacts a law against it – there are thousands of families whose members (gasp) hold different political views and yet, still manage to get along. I know, shocking isn’t it?
- Remind people why voting AD is “a vote for Labour”. We went through all this in 2008 and it will be rehashed again.
- Badger those who don’t want to vote. Have you stated on Facebook or with your friends that you refuse to vote or (horror of horrors) haven’t decided who to vote for? If so, brace yourself. Prepare for an avalanche of well-meaning ‘friends’ who feel they have the right, the duty and the moral obligation to harass you until you change your mind. Failing that, you will be probably be the recipient of any pending permits or other assorted ‘favours’. If you are inclined to play the ‘my vote is up for grabs’ game, now is a good time to open the door to the politicians who will come a-knocking.
Yes, I know, I know, I have not mentioned what the Labour party is going to be up to in the coming months.
Frankly, at this point, I would suggest they should just not say anything, but simply buy some popcorn, kick back and let the PN infighting play itself out. The only time they should speak is if they are going to give us some concrete proposals of how they intend to run the country if elected.
That would be kind of nice to know at this point.