If Labour made Malta rich, why are there more poor people? A total of 85,369 are at risk of poverty. That’s 17 per cent of the population. One in every six lives in a household earning less than €9,744 annually. No household can survive on that, especially when food inflation reached 10.2 per cent in June.

Malta’s GDP rose dramatically over the years. Between 1987 and 1997, per capita GDP rose by a staggering 94 per cent, from $5,084 to $9,910. In Gonzi’s decade (2004-2013), it rose by 81 per cent (from $13,669 to $24,771). Under Labour, it rose by a meagre 34 per cent ($24,771 in 2013 to $33,257 in 2021).

Yet, Labour hailed its imaginary ‘economic miracle’ while stealthily driving more into poverty. In 2006, Malta had its lowest ‘at risk of poverty’ rate: 14.2 per cent. Under Labour, that rate climbed to a record 17.1 per cent. In Czechia, which joined the EU with Malta, it’s only 9.5 per cent.

So why are there more poor people under Labour? Wasn’t Labour the party of the workers and the underprivileged? Why is childhood obesity, a surrogate marker for poverty, so much higher in the south than in the north?

Because Labour is effectively two parties, not one. It is made up of a pampered, privileged elite rewarded with direct orders, government contracts, or highly paid positions of trust they don’t deserve. And the other group, the bruised but contented working class bought out with social benefits and the occasional pre-electoral cheque. Increasingly,  Labour’s inner circle are losing touch with the abused worker.

The illusion of prosperity that the government peddles sounds hollow to those struggling to make ends meet, even with two jobs. Their inability, nigh impossibility, of acquiring even the smallest property, a refurbished garage, is a reality they can hardly ignore.

While Labour’s privileged top tier send their children to the best schools, the underprivileged working class are constrained to send theirs to a government school, at the end of which their children will be two years behind those of Labour’s privileged elite, according to a recent EU report.

The opposite ends of Labour’s income scale are becoming dangerously isolated from each other. As the working class struggles to put food on the table, Lionel Gerada enjoys the lavish luxury of the Phoenicia hotel on taxpayers’ money. Joseph Cuschieri, Joseph Muscat’s close ally, travelled abroad with Edwina Licari 38 times, authorising himself to spend €500,000. His trip to Peru cost workers €26,959. That’s as much as households at risk of poverty earn in three whole years.

Jonathan Cardona, another of Muscat’s allies, travelled 43 times in just four years, spending almost €300,000. Foreign Minister Ian Borg is spending tens of thousands of workers’ hard earned cash on his personal photographer whom he’s carried with him to Brazil and New York. Robert Abela takes to his luxury yacht at Marina di Ragusa.

Why are there more poor people under Labour? Wasn’t Labour the party of the workers and the underprivileged?- Kevin Cassar

The General Workers’ Union, once the self-proclaimed defender of the workers, makes millions, ironically through exploiting the most vulnerable. It’s been awarded a €109 million contract to run the jobless scheme. GWU ge­neral secretary Josef Bugeja and president Victor Carachi increased their own directors’ remuneration from €16,714 to €46,600 in one year alone.

As the prosperity of Labour’s elite rises, the desperate lack of opportunity for the party’s grassroots worsens. Those 17 per cent at risk of poverty are stuck in a rut.

It’s not only their social mobility that is frozen but also that of their children who linger in a hopeless vacuum. It is a despicable distinction defined by obscene wealth looted from public coffers for Labour’s elite and the crumbs allowed to fall into the laps of those at risk of poverty.

And, yet, that latter group still roots for Labour, grateful for the little that drips down. Despite the rising income inequality, the widening gap in opportunity and the huge chasm in future prospects, the vast majority of those in the lowest socioeconomic group remain fanatically devoted to the party that keeps betraying them. Sixty-three per cent of those with primary education support Labour.

Amongst the tertiary educated, with far higher income, better quality of life and longer life expectancy, only 27.7 per cent do. Amongst those who are most successful, most educated and more affluent, Labour’s support is pitiful. Amongst those left in poverty, Labour is unassailable.

Labour had almost a decade. It certainly could have brought down the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate in that time. Why hasn’t it? The answer is as simple as it is unpalatable.

First. Labour diverted millions into the pockets of financial backers, its MPs, their close family, their army of ONE propagandists. Millions were funnelled to offshore companies and banks – Fairbairn Private Bank, Accutor AG, 17 Black, Macbridge, Cifidex, Mayor Trans, Ago Ltd, Bluestone Investments. Tens of thousands of euros from Accutor went into Muscat’s personal BOV account. Thousands went from Bluestone Investments, Vitals and Steward into Keith Schembri’s 3City Design. Hundreds of millions were squandered keeping Labour’s elite happy and silent.

Second. Labour knew it didn’t need to invest in those at risk of poverty. They always vote Labour. So why invest in them? Why give up good money going to friends and family to help the most vulnerable lift themselves out of poverty? When internal surveys show their mood is changing and they’re planning to spoil their vote, a quick cheque in the post will fix it.

Thirdly. Lifting families out of poverty, improving their children’s educational achievements, cutting down on early school leaving would benefit the country. It would lead to better health, a better and more productive workforce and less obesity, smoking, drug abuse and crime. It would make the country better.

Those hundreds of millions could have been wisely invested in children of households at risk of poverty and yielded huge returns. But Labour has a vested interest in keeping them poor and poorly educated.

Otherwise, it could mean Labour’s downfall.

When it comes to choosing between the interests of the country and those of Labour’s privileged elite, we know what Labour does.

Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery.

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