Adrian Delia is desperate to hang on to his job, despite losing three crucial votes within the party structures which would have long sent any leader with a shred of dignity packing. But Delia persisted and intends to hang on to dear life, hoping to win the confidence of the same PN members who elected him in 2017.

In the last couple of weeks, in an attempt to score cheap political points among the grassroots, Delia resorted to desperate populist measures by targeting foreigners living in Malta.

Last Saturday, he told supporters: “Take a look at the situation next to the church and shut down police station in Marsa. Ask the young girls who live there whether they feel safe crossing the road or walking past.

“In villages like Floriana, Ħamrun, Buġibba and St Paul’s Bay, children fear doing simple things like playing with their friends or getting ice cream in the evening.

“For our elderly, simple pleasures like putting a chair out on the pavement to chat with their neighbours in the evening is no longer possible because they don’t feel safe.”

Delia does not mention ‘migrants’ as the source of trouble, but by deliberately mentioning areas like Marsa and St Paul’s Bay, he is invoking fear specifically towards black migrants

Delia does not mention ‘migrants’ as the source of trouble, but by deliberately mentioning areas like Marsa and St Paul’s Bay, he is invoking fear specifically towards black migrants, asylum seekers who have either fled their country or been lured by Malta’s thriving economy.

This is the same leader who had once also urged the Maltese to stand up to foreigners who were posing an “identity threat”.

Even if his comments were backed by facts, the terminology he persists in using is nothing more than incendiary to score cheap points on the back of a problem which needs a holistic approach.

His rhetoric is weak and cheap bait that’s been tried, tested and overused. Studies show that such comments only serve as a trigger for more hatred, discrimination and violence.

When confronted by the divisive and potentially racist rhetoric, Delia has repeatedly said, “I am not racist but…” before indulging in the oldest excuse of most xenophobes and racists – that this is a question of security.

While there undoubtedly are a number of problematic ‘foreigners’ who are based in Malta (the same way there are several problematic Maltese), the problem boils down to a failed integration policy, for which both the Nationalist and Labour administrations are responsible.

It is this failed policy which precipitated the creation of so-called ghettoes hosting certain migrants as ruthless employers seek to exploit their (cheap) labour skills while the authorities abandon their quest for a basic living.

Global developments have hastened the pace of social change and Malta has greatly benefitted from opening up its markets, especially since EU membership. But such developments also bring about uncertainty and growing insecurities, especially in an island state.

It is up to the politicians to do their utmost to create the right structures to integrate foreigners who have settled here, it is up to the police and the courts to castigate those that do not abide by the country’s laws, it is up to the education authorities to explain the basics of multiculturalism…

Our inane greed has created social inequalities and abject poverty in Malta so it is pointless blaming the poor worker/asylum seeker/homeless migrant who is trying to scrape a living.

It is bad enough that Malta’s social media and news comments boards are rife with outrightly hateful, racist sentiments. But when the opposition leader keeps pandering to the basest racist attitude without offering any potential remedies, it is utterly revolting.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us