The Armchair Critic | Sunday Afternoon Reflection

After a turbulent week, we enjoy nothing more than unwinding in our very own unique way. Some of us, after seeing what the party leaders had to offer during a week of debates, new promises and rallies, enjoy nothing more than taking our sweet time to take it all in alongside a lovely afternoon blend of freshly ground coffee and a flavourful pastizz, all from the comfort of a sofa and/or armchair. This is one of those times.

What are we criticising?

The week in politics. We will take a brief look at the unanimously passed Labour Party manifesto, launched during last Friday’s General Conference and their strongpoints and shortcomings. Today’s rallies- in brief.

What do we know so far?

  • Abela and Grech go head to head for the first time ever during a debate organised by the Malta University Debating Society. Some very radical issues were debated.
  • The Labour Party released it’s much debuted manifesto for the upcoming election during the General Conference. The manifesto boasts over 1,000 proposals addressing a myriad of different issues.
  • The Sunday Surveys make the parties wake up and smell the coffee.

Abela does the ultimate mass rally location

Some people certainly miss mass meetings, when you think about it in the context of our Southern European culture, it is very much like attending a music festival. The overpowering stench of sweat, coupled with the odour of beer, but that does not matter, you are cheering for a political party leader and dancing to a song from the noughties. 

Anyways, the Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife, lawyer and philanthropist Lydia Abela grace the stage with their presence and the Prime Minister takes it to the podium to deliver today’s words of wisdom. Starts speaking about the journey done so far and that this election is not about the parties, but moving forward as a society. Moving away from petulance- a good start, let’s hope it remains that way. Cripes! Abela is mentioning voter abstention. Let’s see what his points are on why we should not shred our vote into pieces. Abela tells us that in a time where the world is facing another turn of uncertainty, the need for indefatigable leadership and moving onwards is necessary, more than ever. Okay, Abela may actually be going on a roll today.

Ah, evidence of the better plan, Abela is a lawyer after all, so is Grech- and in the courtroom, the best and most convincing argument always wins. Abela praises the manifesto as being the only version which will be released. The Nationalist Party’s manifesto on the other hand, presented us with a scattered and disorganised product, which we won’t call it the ‘final product’ because we don’t want to attach any rebuttable presumptions just yet. Wait, a couple of people are booing. Come on, we can do better than just moving along with the speech guys or sounding warnings, we can show why we are the bigger people by telling people to go vote for the Labour Party instead. If there is one thing we can agree on this point is, no one really wants to lift unnecessary weight on their shoulder because of the higher power’s uncalculated misdemeanours. 

Well, it seems like Abela is changing his usual speech points today, and including a  comparison of the ranks of this Government with a potential Nationalist Party government. The pre-1995 leases and the Nationalist Party’s plan, or lack thereof and how this will not bode well. The Labour Party will instead assure that everyone will benefit and that living in a good environment which we can call home, will be a no brainer. Mentioning past Nationalist Party leaders, well this is something we have not seen from either party. And tax reductions to make life all the more bearable. And, no mention of pensions in the Nationalist Party’s manifesto. The Labour Party’s manifesto, says Abela, unlike the Nationalist Party’s, is not riddled with well-publicised terms and conditions, but an enjoyment from benefiting from every single proposal. 

This is another thing we can agree on: for a just Malta, there needs to be equality.

This may be the most promising statement so far to come from Abela’s mouth to our ears, that the Labour Party can sustain the country, not because it is easy or hard, but rather because it is the just thing to do and because the Party has always been on the people’s side. Ah, economic talk. How the S&P’s rating was the best in the last 10 years, and how good news like this is what is good for Malta. Reform, whatever it aims to change, aims to change every angle of every facet. 

Equality, finally. Abela mentions how he wants everyone to have the same opportunities available to them and that Malta’s international image will be reshaped. Exactly the stuff we want to hear. Talk of investment and how these have created jobs and careers which give one ambitious salaries and an unquestionable satisfaction, and that, ultimately, elicit one to keep moving forward in whatever it is they choose to do. This all sums up to one final thing- better quality of life. Ultimately, all of the Labour Party’s proposals sum up to ingredients which aim to improve one’s quality of life, whether it is climate neutrality, green and open spaces, and better careers. Hah, this is kind of funny, the return of the bendy buses masked as a trackless tram. 

This is another thing we can agree on: for a just Malta, there needs to be equality. This we can agree on, and this is echoed in Abela’s speech. Malta and the Labour Party was never about prejudice, but looking at everyone with dignity and that everyone has something to offer. That they recognise that there was never one single type of family, a traditional one, but different types of family who love each other just as much and that they are equal. He further said that we should not forget that the Labour Party was born to make change, one that changes Malta for the better. We think this is another thing we can agree on and the one thing from Abela’s speech that takes the cake today. Let’s hope we see that come true if the Labour Party is elected. Anyway, let’s rank.

Today’s Ranking

Let us start on a different note, one more on the verge of constructive criticism. This is the Armchair Critic after all. The Sunday newspapers gave us people’s thoughts today and although it may have been what we expected, we did not withdraw our objections fully just yet. Voter abstention is a real issue, always has been, always will be. But this election, there seems to be a wider gap than usual. When we speak about this, we are addressing both parties. From what we have seen, both parties seem to be doing something, but the question of is it enough, remains unanswered. It’s how the parties present themselves, present their vision without being nostalgic about the past consistently and expect unwavered support after, perhaps, not addressing one’s concerns in the first place. Voter abstention on this end, must be tackled more coherently, whether it’s in the Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition’s speech, all the way to digesting issues which one can improve on. 

Abela’s speech today addressed many crucial issues. Abela seemed to go more on the comparative angle today, by comparing the Nationalist Party’s rigour so far and their tendency to make obstacles for anything which aims at moving forward. What we perhaps enjoyed the most is Abela going back to the Labour Party’s roots, his final statement that the driving force and the very reason the Labour Party exists has always been and always will be, to be the one that brings about change and a trailblazer.

From equality to the Labour Party’s manifesto, Abela did not fall short, once again of addressing crucial elements in his speech. The way Abela compared the two parties in their way of being ready extinguishes every scaremongering tactic which the Nationalist Party may have used as a means to show that the Labour Party is not prepared because of it’s late action din publishing the much called for manifesto. The Maltese idiom ‘Qattusa għaġġelija, frieh għomja tagħmel’ really hits home here. What perhaps could have been avoided or changed, and this is echoed in the body of the above paragraphs is how the situation is faced when there is booing in the audience. Instead, maybe one should insist that voting is the more productive and important way of showing dissent for a potential Nationalist Government.

Policy Mentions

Most interesting: The Labour Party’s purpose in bringing about change and Abela’s equality vision.

On everyone’s minds: A dissection of the 1000 proposals.

Needs further explanation and improvement: Voter abstention 


Final Verdict

Ambition: 9

Optimism: 8

Energy: 8

Style and Delivery: 7

Pragmatic: 8


Grech’s turn at Corradino

And we now head to Raħal Ġdid, at the very popular and mass-rally-friendly- venue of Corradino. Today, it is the Leader of the Opposition and the Nationalist Party’s turn to take the ranks and address the nation through a mass rally. Grech opens with a few encouraging words, saying that all those attending are certainly encouraging him to keep going. Grech maintains that every day that passes, is another day to convince people of the Nationalist Party’s vision. Well, there is something you don’t see everyday, a Leader of the Opposition going to Paceville. Those who are familiar with British Politics know of the Hon. MP Michael Gove’s well-publicised love of clubbing. An attempt to attract the youth? Definitely. Will it work? We’ll have to wait and see, an interesting attempt nevertheless. We were right, Grech says that the reason those before him speaking were all young adults was a demonstration of the Nationalist Party’s wisdom in the younger generation.

Golly! Mentions of Abela, the booing ensues. Doesn’t do much either on this end except put his hands up in the air to quieten down the crowd. Neither did much on this end. Anyways, the jibe was at a ‘supposed’ debate with Abela and now, Grech knows why Abela has been escaping from a debate in the first place. His reason is Abela is scared and sheerly incompetent when faced with the music, but the Nationalist Party’s manifesto and how it was “readily” available from the get-go, says a whole different story. The Nationalist Party’s vision for public transport- a trackless tram, as a result of technological advancements. We cannot really not say how we feel about this, it does look like another bendy bus attempt. So, let’s be real, innovation is not always a guarantee of efficiency. But, Grech says that a Nationalist Administration will complete the project in 5 years- let’s be real, quick fixes are not really proof of a well done fait accompli. 

Grech says that a Nationalist Administration will complete the project in 5 years- let’s be real, quick fixes are not really proof of a well done fait accompli. 

Oh, there’s more, and better apparently! Let’s hear it. Better quality and better prices for everyone in the long run- makes sense. Ah, finally, some estimated costs, a good sign at least. Oh, we think we know what’s coming, the Labour Party manifesto. Isn’t a well informed leader supposed to know the adversary well- has anyone enlightened the basics of the Labour Party statute? That should give some answers. We’re guessing both parties are pointing at each other for lack of preparation. And a blow at billboards and banners- in all fairness, both advertising of both parties were implanted on Malta’s roads on the same day the election was announced. We remember getting into our car and on our way to a dinner with friends thinking ‘And so, let’s begin’

Ah, a critique of the Labour Party manifesto was to be expected. At least he praised the design of the manifesto- for once, something does make sense. But, apparently, there was nothing of substance? Come on, really? And no new economic sectors, means a lack of ideas. The Labour Party’s abilities in Grech apparently, lies in creating buzzwords. Well someone does not like trade unions. Ah, the far-right narrative of ‘government control’ in light of the pandemic. Are we really flirting with the far-right just to gain sympathy votes? Grech’s way of handling voter abstention? Get off your feet and go vote- but Grech knows that you will give your reply in silence…? What? 

A lack of vision and maturity, or so, Grech says. As an example, Grech mentions the march he proposed which shows solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We think there is more that can be done for the people of Ukraine, from both parties mind you, but let’s not turn how we are going to help them, and a crisis into a political agenda for points. And now apparently, time matters for when the Labour Party decides to film a programme that explores the candidates running on a Labour ticket. What this has to do with anything in substance, was not really demonstrated. More of the same, let’s rank. 

Today’s Ranking

Grech did make some good points today. But we have to be real, his style and delivery was not the best we have seen so far. Grech does have tendencies of being charismatic and yet very sharp in his endeavours, and that is something everyone can get behind when it comes to the aspiring leader. Grech’s speech today however, was more on the verge of ceaseless petulance and anti-Labour sentiments. The constant mentioning of copying and lack of vision is quite literally getting tiresome, especially when it is not substantiated. Surely we want to see more of what Grech and the Nationalist Party has to offer, but to do this and attract people, he must focus on where he is standing rather than fishing every intricate detail about Abela. 

Policy Mentions

Most interesting: The “new” economic sectors, again. 

On everyone’s minds: The trackless tram.

Needs further explanation and improvement: Grech’s unusual delivery in today’s rally and his way of handling voter abstention. 


Final Verdict

Ambition: 6

Optimism: 7

Energy: 9

Style and Delivery: 5

Pragmatic: 6

5 5 votes
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