The Armchair Critic | The linchpin and the warden

We start this article by showing solidarity with Ukraine. In times when the future of the East remains uncertain and an electoral campaign has been put on hold to discuss the Russian Federation’s accountability for its international law violations, some of us watch with suspense and hope from the sofas and armchairs of our homes, as we look at each other, dauntedly- this is one of those times.

What are we criticising?

The Nationalist Party and Labour Party’s conduct and proposals in the last 24 hours.

What do we know so far?

Abela has skipped campaigning for the day and is attending an urgent meeting with other EU Member States’ leaders to discuss the situation unfolding in Ukraine. The Labour Party focused on pensions in yesterday evening’s rally. Grech expresses solidarity for the Ukrainian government and announces more proposals, including a controversial one which will see vehicle contraventions overturned.

Abela takes the 12th District and heads to Brussels

Today, we will be going somewhere different, rather than the usual press conference at the Labour Party Headquarters- we will miss the aesthetics, that’s for sure. Tonight, we go up North, in the town of Mellieħa. Prime Minister Robert Abela takes the stage and immediately starts by making remarks on the importance of investing in pensioners and the electoral campaign’s focus on the quality of life. Abela boasts the proposals made so far by the Labour Party, and puts into consideration pensioners. Before he jumps to proposals, Abela praises the current legislature’s work and makes a subtle comparison to other countries, as a boosting factor for the work of this legislature.

And there we have it- Abela affirms that pensions will see an increase, more than that of the current legislature, if the electorate trusts Abela enough to lead the way. Those on a minimum pension, according to Abela, have already seen an increase in pensions and reduction in income tax- and will see a further reduction in the coming years.

Abela affirms that pensions will see an increase, more than that of the current legislature.

Abela first named this proposal during last Sunday’s press conference- yesterday’s explanation is perhaps not as we usually expect, which is the main impetus of the daily press conference which we are used to- but maybe that’s a good thing. We surely miss the aesthetics, but a break from the suits and formalities is also refreshing.

Anyone who has been paying attention to current affairs, knows of the events unfolding in Ukraine. Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin launched attacks on major cities and airports across Ukraine today. Putin is no stranger to moving governments like chess pieces and toying around with sovereignty. Today, Abela made his way to Brussels to attend an urgent meeting with counterpart EU Member State leaders to discuss this recent ongoing onslaught. While for some, this may not be what was expected or necessarily wanted, international and peacekeeping obligations are also a priority and must be attended to. Abela put campaigning on hold, which is exactly what is needed, and naturally, expected from a statesman. How this situation will unfold in the next few days, is something which we will definitely be all eyes on.

Today’s Ranking

As you can probably tell, the aesthetics of the conference which we are used to were missed, but a different setting is nice too, and definitely important for any campaign worth its salt. Abela takes this as an opportunity to be close to the people, speak to the crowd on how these proposals will affect them and that the current legislature’s track record is proof of being fit to govern- perhaps one thing which one might consider is simplifying complex words and jargon. One thing on our mind, we are agog and cannot help but think that Abela will have a lot of questions to answer upon his return from Brussels; from what the European Union will be doing to keep peace, to Malta’s plan in the long run.

Solid Answers: 8
Pragmatism: 8
Clearly spoken: 7
Presentation: 8

Grech does the 1st District and Birżebbuġa

Yesterday’s Nationalist Party rally was held in the heart of Hamrun- a constituency forming part of the 1st District. After Nationalist Party candidates preached their promises, the spotlight was on Opposition Leader Bernard Grech. Grech started by complimenting the present candidates and uses this as a time to sing the praises of the mosaic metaphor which PN members use to describe the internal situation of the Nationalist Party.

Come to think of it, the one good thing about watching these events from the comfort of your home, is that you can choose what to cancel out and you’re under no obligation to clap blindly, even when you cannot stomach what you are hearing.

Grech goes on to depict a utopian idea of the Nationalist Party, as a caretaker of the people and one that helps, immaterial of personal favours. On his way to the rally, he was listening to the event over the radio in his car- to further strengthen his agenda of listening to people. He further makes this clear by purporting 10 years of a Nationalist Party administration, beyond simply one legislature- clearly, Grech is ambitious.

The one good thing about watching these events from the comfort of your home, is that you can choose what to cancel out.

Grech mentions the tragic death of Paulina Dembska, which took place in the beginning of the year. Paulina’s death caused outrage and depicted a reality which women face on a daily basis. Yet, Grech blames this on a lack of security, rather than attitudes ingrained in boys from a young age? Or how men perceive women and how shouting things like ‘Aw Ġisem!’ is not on in any civilised society? The very least he could have done is get her name right. Grech insists that he will be there for the people who feel anxious or not feeling safe and yet, I highly doubt that he will be there to walk our children home late at night.

Grech further adds that he will make it his mission to increase funding for local councils and that law enforcement will be the prerogative of the local councils under a Natioalist Party government. Oh, this is- uhm, interesting? Not necessarily in a good way. Grech proposes that traffic contraventions will be forgiven after 6 months, provided that the offender does not receive another contravention in that 6-month period. For the frequent flyer, and I am sure there are a few of those, this sounds like a relief. But for those of us who actually observe what’s around us, use our indicators and park well when we’re in our vehicles- this is a joke. Even if we reach an enormous level of discipline on the road, leniency for vehicular contraventions is volatile, if not deadly. We can actually agree with Grech for his empathy for the elderly, especially not to forget them in anything we do- this is especially true given the loneliness many experienced during the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

And now, we go to Birżebbuġa. While here, visiting people and market places, Grech maintained that while investing in business and maintaining a good quality of life, he balanced this with saying that equally important, are green and open spaces for everyone to enjoy. Grech hinted at what’s to come for his manifesto, by announcing that there will be initiatives for afforestation and that the Nationalist Party will make it their mission to put more green open spaces in every locality, so that people will be able to be spoilt for choice with spaces to spend their time recreationally- a proposal which sounds starkly similar to that of the Labour Party from a few days ago.

I think we’ve heard enough for one day from both ends, let’s rank.

Today’s Ranking

We honestly feel that the way we have reacted to Grech’s performance is self-explanatory, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt and follow our egalitarian ideology. Grech made good points in his speeches, but on other occasions, he was tone-deaf on key issues and thus, came across as counter-intuitive. For example, the traffic contraventions proposal raised a few eyebrows, and with good reason.

One of the main reasons why traffic accidents happen is lack of observation and forward planning. If anything, reform should go where it’s needed- such as re-strengthening practical driving tests for aspiring drivers- maybe this is something both parties should consider. One thing we can look forward to, rather than proposals made in passing, is the plan laid out in the Nationalist Party manifesto- only then can we say “the proof is in the pudding”.

Solid Answers: 7
Pragmatism: 6
Clearly spoken: 7
Presentation: 5

4.9 18 votes
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