Of u-turns and weather vanes

Like the PN establishment's exponents – despite being excluded from that circle – Alex Borg adopts the line of thinking that there is one law that applies for Nationalists and another for Labour supporters.

In comments he gave to the the Times of Malta, Opposition spokesperson for Gozo, Alex Borg, claimed that he does not believe in u-turns. This statement was made in the context of the declaration of Prime Minister Robert Abela that the Labour Party is open to the return of Roseanne Cutajar and Justyne Caruana.

The comment made by the Nationalist MP begs belief. Just a few hours earlier, the same Alex Borg had openly come out to support Franco Debono in his attempt to return to the Nationalist Party. He did this through a blatant social media post, the main occupation of this Opposition spokesperson, who some have nicknamed “Mr Facebook”.

Like the PN establishment’s exponents – despite being excluded from that circle – Alex Borg adopts the line of thinking that there is one law that applies for Nationalists and another for Labour supporters. So, on the one hand Franco Debono, who left the Nationalist Party after voting against his Government in Parliament, can come back into the Party, and that is not a u-turn by the Party. On the other hand, it is not right that Roseanne Cutajar and Justyne Caruana, who never voted against their Government, return to the Labour Party, as that is a u-turn.

But then, Alex Borg may not understand the concept of a u-turn. You can only do a u-turn if you have a position and then change it, typically because of new information or the passing of time. Alex Borg is more like a weather vane, a “pinnur” in Maltese, whose opinion changes with every passing wind. In fact, he changes his position all the time, so much so that while he started out as a beloved one of the conservative faction of the Nationalist Party, today he appears to have lost his credit with them.

For instance, in September 2022, he was criticised by LGBTIQ+ rights groups for coming out against free gender reassignment surgery for trans persons. Then, in September 2023, he uploaded a social media post with a photo of him during the Gozo Europride, boasting that he is in all in favour of inclusion.

The same is true of development in Gozo. He is always uploading posts against development and construction in Gozo. Then, when asked about particular projects, he is prompt to say that that is the responsibility of the Planning Authority. Specifically, a journalist recently asked about a project of apartments in Xlendi that his own family are involved in, and he was quick to say that it is better to ask someone else. Alex Borg’s argument is that it is not the fault of developers that they overdevelop – it is the fault of those granting permission. The line of argumentation is that, if someone does not stop you from breaking a law, then you have every right to break it.

Borg also stood out when, after complaining repeatedly against the number of foreigners in the country, he then came out against a Government measure to prevent landlords from renting a property to more than six people at once.

The impression one gets is that Alex Borg is an opportunist politician with no clear position and ideology. His only goal is to fulfil his ambition to progress in the hierarchy of the Nationalist Party. For this purpose, every position could be useful, provided he thinks it is popular at that moment. What a difference from those politicians he is criticising, who might have their flaws, but who everyone knew their position on important political themes. Moreover, these are politicians who have implemented important reforms and introduced measures that made real changes to people’s lives.

Between a u-turn and a weather vane, the choice is very simple. As John Maynard Keynes used to say, “When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?”

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