The nil-nil psyche

▪️ The nil-nil psyche ▪️ Pity the poor citizen ▪️ You really got me going

Survey after survey, poll after poll, sample after sample, there has been a consistent, healthy lead for Labour as we gradually move towards the 8th June European elections, with the Nationalist Party clearly trailing behind and its leader pathetically hanging on to a public shoe string. But it would be hugely unwise should all this push Labour into complacency; foremost to warn against this is Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Polls are simply aimed at reading the nation’s pulse at a single moment in time, in this case a series of moments, so one needs to appreciate the fact that public moods often shift in very strange ways, as many a confident politician who chose to ignore this reality eventually found out to his disbelief. Political history is full of such upsets.

Luckily for Labour, both its leader and administration seem highly aware of the fragility of public opinion and seem unwilling to fall to the temptation of taking things for granted. Yes, Labour does deserve to get the public’s plaudits for the incredible work that has been achieved during the past few years, reflected in a thriving economy, zero unemployment, significant economic growth, a sustained no-new-taxes policy, increases in local and foreign investment, and a prominent international profile for Malta.

Prime Minister Robert Abela announcing, in July 2020, that Malta had negotiated €2.25 billion from a new deal that secured the biggest allocation ever of EU funds for the bloc’s smallest member state.

However, little places can have “little” issues that could easily have an impact on everyday political matters, with particular reference to local council elections. The parochial mindset has never really thawed after centuries spent frozen deep in the hearts and minds of people in our towns and villages. A case in point is Mosta where, after the main square debacle – today thankfully resolved to the satisfaction of many people of goodwill – there has now been an outcry over the rescheduling of traffic movement in several streets in the Ta’ Mlit zone to accommodate extra access to a nearby supermarket.

A protest held by Mosta residents.

Although this traffic arrangement has been declared as “temporary” there are justified doubts this will be the case when the roadworks in the vicinity that generated it are completed. People in the area know the supermarket supremos have long been whining for the extra access, despite the obvious parking problems and the extreme number of one-way throughfares created.

This is not the first or second instance of local public annoyance, nor will it be the last, and the same has been happening in other places round the Maltese islands, mostly because of despairingly delayed completion of projects, half-baked works such as the Paola square which has had to have its surface redone (yes, in record time), and still undone streets in an acutely bad condition (yes again, street and road infrastructure works have never been as numerous, impressive and effective), but local residents/voters see only the patch left unseeded.

So, opinion polls, scientific or not, have a story to tell and they are telling it. Now is the time, however, for the nil-nil psyche to prevail. That’s where it all really starts.

Pity the poor citizen

You can’t help pity the poor citizens of the world as they try to sort out what is really happening in the two major wars currently thrusting us nearer and nearer towards a third world war. The war in Ukraine in particular, as it involves a lot more than just two official belligerents: Putin’s Russia against NATO and the EU combined, with Ukraine sadly used as the puppet on a string.

There are just too many actions and interactions to really help one form an appropriate picture of what’s going on. Take the recent Moscow attack in which more than 140 innocent persons lost their lives. In less than 30 minutes the US was already saying it “knew” who was responsible for the attack; this from a nation that, 60 years later, still doesn’t know who assassinated its own President, John F. Kennedy.

Firefighters work after an attack on the building of the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow. Photo: Investigative Committee of Russia via AP.

Germany too was quick to declare who was behind the Moscow massacre but, as Maria Zakharova, Putin’s media representative, said, “they haven’t even started making confident conclusions about the NordStream sabotage” which impacted strongly on the German economy.

You don’t have to be a Putin admirer to realise the Americans think people everywhere are stupid. They quickly said Putin blew up the NordStream, droned his own Kremlin, bombed his own nuclear power plant and, now, carried out the terror attack in Moscow. The mind boggles.

As for our girl Metsola, who when asked by journalists whether she was going to congratulate Putin for his electoral “victory” bluntly retorted she certainly wasn’t, one wonders if she has sent the European Parliament’s condolences following the Moscow massacre. You know, European values…

You really got me going

I see the US has threatened Pakistan with sanctions for the planned gas pipeline project with Iran. In the past decades, it did the same with Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, Syria, and many other places on earth, eventualy sowing destruction and the death of millions of civilians.

The news item really got me going. I remembered how Matthew Miller, the US State Department spokesman, replied when pressured by the media to say what the Biden administration was going to do in face of the worsening situation of the war in Gaza and Israel’s obvious genocidal intentions: “We don’t tell Israel what to do because the US doesn’t dictate to sovereign countries, we only offer advice.” One could hear the Pakistani guffawing from as far as Islamabad.

Welders work on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Iran to Pakistan in Chabahar, Iran. Photo: File/AP
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