“Malta Tagħna Lkoll” (“Malta Belongs To All Of Us”) was a beautiful slogan. 2013 was the year of hope for so many Maltese.

Idealistic youths flocked to the Labour Party banner, mesmerised by the youthful Labour Party leader, Joseph Muscat, who promised what many Maltese had long been waiting for: the end of political tribalism, a transparent government, good governance, the practice of the principle of meritocracy in all appointments to public posts, protection of the environment and the eradication of corruption. It seemed like a great dream finally come true in the realm of Maltese politics.

Unfortunately, today we know that it was all a massive deception, a great betrayal of the hopes of the Maltese nation. Some of us Labourites, myself included, saw the light rather late in the day and this led to other Labour electoral victories in 2017 and 2022.

Others are blinded by propaganda to the present day and still wholeheartedly support what can only be called a pseudo-Labour government, in reality only a pathetic puppet of big business interests and a negation of the rights of the ordinary citizen.

Both Muscat and his successor, Prime Minister Robert Abela, have let the nation down very badly indeed, the former to a much greater extent than the latter. As such, it would be worthwhile to examine how the Labour Party in power has betrayed much of its most important promises to the Maltese nation.

Let us start with the promise of a transparent government. One laughs when one remembers this Labour pledge. What is the reality? The reality is that underhand deals are rampant in the way the Labour government goes about its business. How many times do we see cases of government concessions to business interests without full details being made available to the public?

Even resorting to the Freedom of Information Act is proving to be a difficult exercise in ensuring transparency in public administration. The same applies to the appointment of certain persons to public posts.

Another Labour pledge gone down the drain is that of the principle of meritocracy in all public appointments. We have seen so many ministers’ canvassers and government lackeys appointed to public posts that the application of the principle of meritocracy seems to have been totally forgotten.

Labour supporters wait at the party's Ħamrun headquarters for leader Robert Abela to address them. Photo: Jonathan Borg Labour supporters wait at the party's Ħamrun headquarters for leader Robert Abela to address them. Photo: Jonathan BorgLabour supporters wait at the party's Ħamrun headquarters for leader Robert Abela to address them. Photo: Jonathan Borg Labour supporters wait at the party's Ħamrun headquarters for leader Robert Abela to address them. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Unfortunately, several of these persons were found to be totally unsuited for the positions of responsibility to which they were appointed and the result can be seen in the many cases of corruption coming to light involving such persons appointed under a Labour administration.

The greatest and most bitter joke of all has been the pledge to try and eradicate corruption in public life, accompanied by the practice of good governance in all government matters. I need not go through the whole list of corruption scandals the Labour Party in government has been involved in during the years from 2013 onwards. I need only mention such major scandals as the case of the ‘Panama Papers’ and that of the Vitals-Steward public hospitals deal.

I cannot, of course, omit to mention the assassination of the journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. This murky business has certainly not been solved to the satisfaction of the public. While it is true that it occurred under Muscat’s watch, the follow-up action by the Labour government under Abela has come in for heavy public criticism.

Today, Labour feels so powerful that it is simply discarding any semblance of justifying its action to the common people- Desmond Zammit Marmara

Political tribalism has also not been eradicated. Indeed, by its actions when in power, the Labour Party has fanned the flames of political polarisation. One News is simply a disgusting propaganda exercise, as is the Labour Party newspaper KullĦadd. Furthermore, it is pathetic that the Labour representatives in parliament often simply try to rebut the Nationalist opposition’s arguments by mentioning the defects of the Nationalist Party concerning the issue in question. Such actions by people in such important public posts of responsibility simply widen further the ‘us’ and ‘them’ political divide.

Another area of massive disappointment under Labour administrations has been the lack of protection for the environment. Everybody agrees that Maltese governments should be pro-business, but this should simply mean aiding businesses by providing the necessary help for them to prosper, such as, for example, eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy.

It surely must not mean giving pro­perty developers carte blanche to destroy the Maltese environment so that they can fill their pockets with money. Again, it surely must not mean sanctioning illegalities perpetrated by unscrupulous property developers. Above all, it must not mean subjecting the ordinary citizen to danger in one’s own home and to a life of noise, dust, and other inconveniences for years on end.

The frenzy of over-development under Labour is shameful and its negative consequences will be felt for many years to come. It is also condemnable that while some property developers are making hay while the sun shines and lining their pockets, young couples wanting to buy their first property are being forced out of the market because of the steep property prices locally.

What is also really worrying the ordinary citizen is the sheer arrogance of several government ministers. From 2013 to 2023, this has grown to such an extent that today, some ministers simply act as if they are no longer accountable to the ordinary people who have elected them.

There is, of course, a reason for this: the gap in support between the Labour Party in power and the Nationalist Party in opposition. Today, Labour feels so powerful that it is simply discarding any semblance of justifying its actions to the common people.

In this regard, it is refreshing to note that the Nationalist Party seems to be finally getting its house in order. A very weak opposition poses a threat to democracy as the political party in power could become so arrogant and so oblivious to public opinion that democracy would be in danger.

A strong Nationalist Party is a necessity at the present moment in time. It is more than obvious that the present Labour Party is ‘Labour’ only in name. It has not honoured many of its promises to the electorate and has made itself subservient to business interests.

As in the years immediately preceding 1987, many genuine Labourites today are asking the question whether only a Labour defeat at the polls will restore the Labour Party to what it once was: the shield of Maltese workers, the defender of the ordinary citizen, an example of political integrity as in the days of Prime Minister Paul Boffa.

It is incredible that we have come to this.

Desmond Zammit Marmarà is a former Labour Party councillor and activist.

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