No wonder Bernard Grech is doing so badly in the polls

The last three surveys published in recent weeks by independent newspapers show that the gap between Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech is still getting wider.

Of the three surveys, the one conducted by statistician Dr Vince Marmara shows the narrowest gap between the two, which is a whopping 18.5%.

If we ever needed a reason why people are still reluctant to trust Bernard Grech, we got the answer this week. Bernard Grech’s “green” press conference was the classic definition of a train wreck performance. A disaster.

What was supposed to be a showcase of the credentials of his leadership on the environment and the alternative he will be offering, ended up being a series of gaffes. So much so that at the end of the press conference, the headlines spoke about what the PN has not committed to, rather than any vision for the future.

Bernard Grech’s “green” press conference was the classic definition of a train wreck performance. A disaster.

Gaffe # 1: The 2006 local plans

At the start of the press conference, as he has been doing in the past months, Bernard Grech went on to criticise the “uncontrolled development” and “environmental devastation” that took place in the last eight years. Anyone who follows Maltese politics and has an interest in environmental matters knows that the absolute majority of permits issued today are based on the local plans introduced in 2006, whereby Government decided to introduce a large portion of former rural land, the size of Siġġiewi, as areas for development.

Those who were following Grech’s press conference got the feeling that by the end of his speech he would pledge a review of these local plans that were previously announced by George Pullicino in 2006, which are causing the “uncontrolled development” he spoke about. So much so, that at one point he even criticised the current government for not changing the 2006 local plans during the past eight years.

But when the first question was asked, we witnessed a different politician. One who backtracks. In fact, he even made strong statements contradicting what he was alluding to earlier. Among them, that the 2006 local plans were “what was needed at the time”, and that the “uncontrolled development” was not a result of these plans.

By the end of the press conference, journalists, who seemed to grow less patient, asked which development policies would Prime Minister Bernard Grech change. No answer was forthcoming.

Gaffe # 2: Marsascala regeneration

There was no doubt that the Marsascala marina would be next on the list of questions. So, one understands that strategists had a chance to prepare the Opposition Leader well. An easy subject, one would have thought, as after all, Bernard Grech had already made his position clear that he would repeal the marina plan. One expected a strong position.

But even here we got an unclear and backtracking reply. In one sentence he said that he didn’t want a marina, and in another, he said that he wanted the “reorganisation of yachts.” One wonders what Bernard Grech meant by this phrase, and how it differs, in practice, from a marina.

One wonders what Bernard Grech meant by the phrase “reorganisation of yachts”  and how it differs, in practice, from a marina.

In another comment he did not rule out that if he is Prime Minister, he will create marinas in other localities. A very different statement from his earlier narrative against yacht marinas. One expects the Leader of the Opposition now to state where the yacht marinas he is planning will be.

Gaffe # 3: Jason Azzopardi

Another question PN strategists should have expected was the other cavallo di battalia, namely good governance. A clear question following recent revelations that Jason Azzopardi lied when he said that he never benefitted from his friendship with business tycoon and alleged mastermind of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Yorgen Fenech. It was recently revealed that he allegedly used a fictitious name in Fenech’s hotels and that he also asked Fenech to organise a coffee morning for him.

Bernard Grech’s response was perhaps the flattest he’s given so far. The only reply he could think of was that these were stories that took place in 2008 and not today. Moreover, he tried to justify Azzopardi by saying he is not a Minister anymore.

How can anyone take Bernard Grech seriously when he fails such tests on issues he’s so vocal about?

It’s the economy, stupid!

It seems that each time the PN raises momentum on an issue and everyone expects Bernard Grech to perform, he disappoints. Throwback to last year’s Budget speech when he called the Labour Government’s economic plan of being “virtual reality”, slamming government spending in the midst of a pandemic.

It seems that each time the PN raises momentum on an issue and everyone expects Bernard Grech to perform, he disappoints.

As it turned out, virtual reality has never been as real since the government’s economic plan, including increased spending, has led to successful results not seen in other European countries. In fact, despite the pandemic and the restrictions it has brought, government revenue increased by half a billion, compared to last year.

Robert Abela as a decision-taker

On the other hand, people see in Robert Abela, a leader who takes up a challenge rather than shying away from it. More importantly, he takes the decisions that are needed. We saw this when he took the reins in an unprecedented political climate. We saw this during the pandemic. We saw this in the area of ​​justice and the rule of law. We saw this in the rent reform.

These are facts, not rhetoric. And public opinion reflects this.

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Dr. Mark Said
Dr. Mark Said
2 years ago

It definitely does not augur well for a much needed strong and credible opposition as contemplated by our Constitution. The gap between the PN and the Labour Movement will certainly continue to widen at this rate.

Wilfred Camilleri
Wilfred Camilleri
2 years ago
Reply to  Dr. Mark Said

And the gap will indeed widen until many people realize that they’ve been sold a bill of goods and that the emperor had no clothes….

Wilfred Camilleri
Wilfred Camilleri
2 years ago

The absolute majority of permits issued today are based on the local plans introduced in 2006. And guess what? Since coming into power in 2013, the PL didn’t have the will or see the need to change the plans and instead let greedy developers take advantage of them to cause mayhem. As for yatch marinas, there has to be a limit as to how many we can sustain on this tiny barren rock. So if people want to buy yatchs and they can’t find room to moore then, so be it. If Bernard Grech fails tests on issues like Jason Azzopardi allegedly fraternizing with money laumderers, what can one say about many of Abela’s Ministers doing the same if not worse? Therefore, using your partisan logic, Abela not only fails the test, but he absolutely bombs the test! Finally, as far as the economy is concerned, borrowing billions is not necessarily the smartest way to strengthen the economy because at some point, the hens will come home to roost.

Joseph Buhagiar
Joseph Buhagiar
2 years ago

I do not like butting in when I feel tribal instincts, but I have to say this even though I know that it is a waste of time.
Before doing so can’t you see “based on the local plans introduced in 2006. And guess what? Since coming into power in 2013, the PL didn’t” change etc…..
Why didn’t we change them ourselves since 2006 to 2013 gave us 7 years. I for one was labelled labour every time I wrote about this. What bothered me the most was that this lead to rumours taking the place of facts about the PA since the PA had to face the brunt of hundreds of problematic applications that would hurt people whatever the PA decision would be; And this is what was and is leading many people to lose faith in the PA when really and truly politicians were the blame.
Regarding arguments about money laundering / illicit gains etc, it is a waste of time since whatever element of non conformance there is/was in this area, has been going on for as long as I can remember and no PL or PN ever did anything about it. Both seemed comfortable with that current situation because it probably suited them both. Like Money Val said, it cannot be that no one – no one, no lawyer, no accountant or consultant ever committed a crime ever since we started to participate in financial services windows of opportunity. And they are right.
And by the way the same goes for the unfortunate murder of DCG. We have some 40 un-resolved murders dating back to 1970 if I remember correctly and no politician – no political agenda / ever did anything to give the police the resources to resole them which lead these gangs to learn (behaviours and attitudes) to do it again. Lucrative business, don’t you think. Did these not have friends and families too? The state failed them miserably too.
Until it finally hit a family of lawyers that have the knowledge and the time to make sure that this stops once and for all. So if you ask me all politicians owe the Maltese nation an apology since it was the DCG family that brought this change.  
But let me get to my real reason that motivated me to write which is Sales. Your poor opinion of a new yacht marina. Perhaps you do not realise the amount of really lucrative local SALES generated by yachts and marinas for so many people in Malta. Please dig into this or talk with anyone that manages yachts since you cannot possibly image what it takes to sustain a yacht. It needs regular YEARLY replacement of paint, anodes etic, engine repairs and maintenance, replacement of regular consumption parts galore which mostly need to be ordered from abroad, food and vegetable, water, wines and sprits, waste disposal ……you name it.
You see there is one thing I learned from Harvard. The priority number one of any Leader and CEO has to be sales. Any family, any company, any country must “sell more to survive” in this “highly competitive free market economy” we live in today.
So “look at whatever you do as an investment” and invest more to sell more to survive or pack up. Reason is that all other options including “cutting costs, improving speed of jobs completion and putting technology to good use” are today entry level needs which all competition will be making use off too.

In fact I think that the labour party did one KEY thing that changed the economy of Malta around in such a short time ever since Muscat took office. They really believed in selling more, in investing more and in customer satisfaction ie helping and training anyone that wants to make it happen for himself and rewarding those that make an effort to do so.
In fact take note. This is proof that we did not have a lawyer, medical doctor or architect at the helm this time. Muscat is a Bachelor of Commerce graduate in Management and Public Policy 85 with Honours in 96. Master of Arts in European Studies 1997 and in 2007 + Attained a Doctorate of Philosophy in Management Research from the University of Bristol. A big change at the helm.

What happened is really unfortunate. And as we learn in TQM – someone must ALWAYS PAY for and resolve ALL the elements of non-conformance.

And if we are honest we need to say that Robert Abela is facing all, literarily all past elements of non conformance (past mistakes if you like) that accumulated over the years. Those of the PN, those of his won party, the pandemic, an opposition that is not capable or willing to offering constructive criticism since it cannot even comprehend the loads of help which it needs itself. And all of this, while going through a pandemic and the unprecedented impact which this leaves on people and politician financial and mental health too.

I really feel that we are lucky to have Robert Abela at this time.