An interview with former Nationalist Minister Tonio Borg in the Maltese newspaper Illum was an eye-opener on how the Nationalist establishment intends to stymie Labour’s progress.
One strand of the strategy is to foment the culture wars to bring back the conservative grassroots of the Nationalist Party, who are currently very disenchanted with the new crop of Nationalist MPs introduced by Bernard Grech. Prime amongst them, finance spokesperson Jerome Caruana Cilia, who many are concluding is an amateur after having issued a pre-budget document described as a “mess” last year, and this year only releasing a set of vacuous slides.
At the same time, economy spokesperson Ivan J. Bartolo is taking positions that are confusing people, such as coming against that Government should pressure importers to lower prices or advocating that Government should compensate those renting to more than 6 persons in an apartment when new regulations make this impossible. =
Besides embarking on dangerous xenophobic language on foreigners, the PN also wants to reassure Nationalist conservatives that it is foursquare behind them. In fact, Tonio Borg argued with Illum that several laws that have been passed by this government are contrary to Catholic principles. He mentioned, for instance, that the IVF law goes against the Catholic religion. Borg said that in politics one must have a moral compass and boasted that in his political work he gives priority to Christian principles, before reminding readers of his pro-life advocacy.
In his comments Borg also revealed the second strand of the establishment’s strategy. This has to do with a bill that is being pushed by the Nationalist Party after supposedly being created by the association of Law students at university. It seems that the bill is just an attempt to stall the work of Government and of all public agencies and giving power to the judicial system, where the Nationalists still dominate on account of the arbitrary way judges and magistrates were appointed before 2013.
In a scathing attack on the democratic process, Tonio Borg claimed that we are currently jeopardising and violating the supremacy of the constitution because the courts do not accept every case against the Government but only those where the plaintiff demonstrates a personal interest. This is something that is not at all new but has been so forever. However, now, Borg wants everyone to be able to easily stop all Government action in court, without the need for proof that such action is adversely affecting them. As a result, anti-Labour Party organisations and individuals could create total gridlock not just of Government work, but also in the court system which could be inundated with spurious cases. This strategy is revealed by Borg’s own words when he says that, with the changes proposed by the Nationalist Party, more people could bring Government to court.
The reasoning behind this is not some desire to increase the rights of citizens. It is just an attempt by the establishment to create disenchantment and regain power. The former Minister of GonziPN, in fact, says in his interview that surely, in the name of democracy, a change in Government is needed as Labour will have spent 15 years in Government by the end of this parliamentary term. This despite that he was quite happy to point out that the Nationalists had spent 25 years in government.
The latest establishment strategy is the result of the success of the Malta Ġusta Budget. Borg, like the rest of the establishment, was taken aback by the generous budget measures, including the increase in pensions and the minimum wage. So much so that he went as far as to criticise the information campaign on the Budget measures and called it pure propaganda. He then argued that there was no need to trumpet the Budget as the measures were all financed by people’s taxes.
What he failed to explain was why, when he was a minister of GonziPN, instead of using people’s taxes to finance higher pensions and keep electricity bills stable, he voted for an increase in electricity and water bills while at the same time accepting a massive increase in his own honoraria together with his colleagues. Not sure how he could claim it was his “Catholic” principles that inspired him to do so.