Saturday 16 February 2019

The changing of the boards

With a change of government and a political party that hasn’t been in power since 1998, politically-appointed boards are undergoing a major re-shuffle.

I see nothing wrong with this and, in fact, it is very much to be expected. Change is good, new people can bring in fresh ideas, and it is important that no one feels so cosy and entrenched in a particular area that it becomes their own personal fiefdom where they can lord it over everyone else with no questions asked.

Now, here comes the ‘but’.

But, it is crucial that the people being appointed by the Labour administration are being appointed for the right reasons and not as some kind of reward for blind party loyalty, sticking their neck out to endorse the party during the election or as a sweetener to ‘bring them over to our side’.

Yes, I know many reading this are already muttering about how the PN for years only appointed its own to these posts and how Labour sympathizers were left out in the cold.

The problem with this kind of reasoning is that it effectively means that only diehards (with one party or the other) will ever be considered for these types of posts. If you are just a normal person who has never been politically active but who is excellent in your field and can give a very worthwhile contribution, it seems you will never stand a chance of being appointed.

I am not saying being politically active should preclude you from such posts. Frankly, I could not care less who people vote for, as long as they have the right credentials, competence, background and experience for the role.  But political affiliation (or sucking up to politicians) should not be the main decisive criteria either. Unfortunately, this pattern was set long ago as can be seen when one takes a look back at the names of those who sat on government boards under previous PN administrations. In some cases you could see the same names shifting from one board to another throughout the last three legislatures as if they alone (Alla jbierek) were so multi-talented that their input was crucial in all of these various fields.

Were we being gullible in thinking that Labour would be any different? Well, let’s just say Labour had a golden opportunity to break away from this kind of blinkered reasoning but, so far, seem to be squandering it. I am not saying that all the appointments are questionable – but I would say a good 50% have raised not just eyebrows, but people’s blood pressure as well.

In the case of the latest appointment of Lou Bondi to the National Festivities Board (did we even need such a thing?) jaws could be heard to literally drop all over the island.

Labour supporters are (understandably) beside themselves with rage that the TV presenter who was practically inciting hatred against them on the eve of the election has now been appointed by their own government. Even PN supporters were astonished by this move.

Three short months ago, everyone connected with Where’s Everybody was considered the sworn enemy of the Labour party – to appoint Lou Bondi is a slap in the face of the very supporters whom he insulted.

If this was an attempt by Muscat to placate or defuse the powerful WE’s media production and PR consultation house, then I’m afraid he has badly miscalculated. He has pleased no one by this (except maybe Lou Bondi himself). It also flies in the face of the constant barrage of criticism by the Labour media over the last five years that WE  seems to have had its finger in every pie when it comes to national events in this country.

Of course, there will always be those who will twist themselves into a pretzel to justify anything their party does, just because it is “their” party, and I have already seen plenty of attempts to justify this latest mistake.

But not everyone is so forgiving.

Muscat would do well to remember just why he rode on such high waves of support to a landslide victory. People were fed up of being manipulated and lied to by the PN administration; they wanted a real change.

Above all, what people want is a Prime Minister who is consistent in his words and actions.


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