The Labour Party in government has discovered a universal panacea for all that is wrong with it. Citing the national interest, they expect us to let them get away with murder. They are drumming this term into their followers’ psyche as being the reason why they and their actions should not be criticised, or even revealed. 

They are hiding behind this hollow and thinly-stretched application of a term that they have no right to use to cover misdeeds and wrongdoing.

For myself and for the Nationalist Party, the national interest has always been, still is and will always remain our main concern. 

Take for example the matter of taxation, over which the Labour Party has been trying to create illusory mirages by blowing a lot of hot air over the past days.

Our country has, since EU accession, enjoyed significant economic activity in certain sectors due to our competitive taxation system introduced by the Nationalist government when giving birth to our financial services industry.

This system was scrutinised by the European Commission, and, both when we were in government, and as representatives of the PN in the European Parliament, we have fought tooth and nail for this to remain. 

We have always voted against a harmonised taxation system in the EU and shall continue to do so. That is in the national interest. 

The latest proposal to harmonise our taxation systems has come from the European Socialists’ lead candidate for President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and we are firmly against this proposal. 

Votes on minor amendments, including textual formulation, to the paragraphs originally proposed does not constitute agreement or disagreement with the substance of the paragraph, but solely agreement or disagreement with the proposed correction. Indicating otherwise by waving pieces of paper around is outright dishonesty with an intention to mislead.

What is not in the national interest is the defence of cabinet ministers and top government officials opening shady accounts in Panama just days after assuming office. 

It is logical and should be obvious, that neither defending these actions, nor trying to keep them hidden, could ever be in the true interests of our country.

It is very convenient to hide behind this blanket umbrella, while labelling any criticism levelled at this behaviour as being negative. Granted, some people may feel over exposed to hearing about corruption in high places, but it is not the messenger or the whistle blower who should be blamed, but the perpetrator. 

How can we trust certain institutions in our country when whistle-blower status is centralised within the Office of the Prime Minister? Should we simply be expected to shut up, and toe the Labour line?

We are trying to come to terms with the news that two soldiers have been accused of carrying out cold-blooded murder, motivated solely by racism of the worst kind

The national interest is what benefits citizens. Take the defence of our air quality, a top concern of all residents. People are forced to breathe air carrying high levels of particles that are detrimental to everybody’s health, particularly children and senior citizens. 

We will work hard to reverse the trend of worsening air quality, fighting rampant and abusive pollution, to ensure that this most basic of rights, the right to clean air, is protected.

The rule of law is also in the national interest. Much has been said about this shortcoming, particularly following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the concerns it exposed. 

We have a duty to speak up, and we do so in order for things to improve because it is only with truth justice and accountability can the country truly move forward. 

This week we are trying to come to terms with the news that two soldiers have been accused of carrying out cold-blooded murder, motivated solely by racism of the worst kind. Words fail me in trying to describe what I felt when I first heard this news. 

How can we, any of us, feel safe and protected, when we learn of such things?

A definition of what constitutes the national interest is needed before anybody can hide behind it for their own purposes.

I will not be silent in the face of criminality, corruption and injustice, because it is you, the people of Malta and Gozo, who are the real national interest. 

I want to continue to work hard to safeguard and improve your well-being, your health, your way-of-life, your safety and security, your education, your standard of living and future. 

That is what I have and will continue to speak up in defence of. I have always stood for the centre ground – for moderate, value-based, decision making. That is the face of Malta and Gozo I fight to represent. 

It is what you know you can expect from me and my fellow candidates of the Nationalist Party. Only your vote can help us achieve it.

Roberta Metsola is a Nationalist Party MEP.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

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