Joseph Muscat’s recent rant in somehow trying to instil an imagined threat to pensions, is not only an economic falsity, it is an attempt to once again use projected fear to pull wool over eyes. But it did bring back memories of how I found myself thrust onto the political scene, half way through my student years.
I suppose we should be grateful that the Prime Minister has moved on from the Alfred Sant bandwagon of trying to convince us that all EU membership would bring us would be Sicilian hairdressers. No surprises there, we have become quite used to these turnabouts from the leader of the Labour Party.
It is easy to forget just how close to the brink they took us. It seems like a lifetime ago that we would hear Sant’s mouthpiece, Muscat, rail against Europeans and argue that we were simply not good enough to compete as equals. They have since tried to reinvent themselves, even admitting their hindsight wisdom. But those of us whose political forma mentis was sculpted then, will always recognise them for who they are.
The EU debate was tough, but it was personal. I knew then, as I know now, that I was as much from Gżira, as much Maltese and as much a European, none of which are mutually exclusive.
My journey in politics was not typical.
When I first stood for election in 2004, I had no family links to politics: a young woman in an old man’s world, with no money, or backing. But then as now, I had ideas, an appetite for change and a determination to stand up to be counted. It took almost 10 years but in 2013, I was elected as one of Malta and Gozo’s first female MEPs.
My passion and my resolve have not waned. My belief that politics must be rooted in values has not been watered down. I am as hungry for change as I have ever been, a change that needs to be based on principle.
This election is about sending a message. It is about reaffirming that the politics of the centre, of moderation, of studied balance, still belong in our political circle
I have always stood unashamedly for the politics of the centre, for the triumph of moderation over extremism, for politics based on truth, justice and correctness.
That is the face of Malta and Gozo I fight to represent.
Take corruption. I stand against it – always and everywhere. I want to see politics become a clean arena where we, who represent you, are held to the highest standards of accountability.
Take justice. I will never stop fighting for the rule of law to prevail. I will never stop seeking justice for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and her stories. I will never accept that our identity is given away freely as a pull-out in the cheap passports Muscat is selling.
Take the environment. I will never stop demanding respect for our natural, urban and historical heritage, nor will I ever stop doing my duty in striving to leave Malta a better place than my generation found it.
Take migration. You will never see me appeal to the very loud, very real albeit unrealistic, xenophobic element in our society. My position has always been clear – a balanced one that takes into consideration legitimate concerns, and our moral obligations in putting humanity first in equal measure.
We must be fair with those in need of protection, firm with those who do not, and harsh with those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable.
This has not changed, nor will it ever.
Here I stand. For the centre. Proudly.
The Labour Party will never stop resorting to calling me a traitor for calling them out on their wrongdoing. Their strategy is clear. They would like nothing better than to silence the strong voice we have in Europe, pushing an agenda that suits best those whose ideals have long been compromised.
We cannot let that happen. Not now. Not with so much at stake.
A few people may choose to stay home on election day. Whether you vote or not, the electoral machine will move on. Six people will be elected anyhow. Not voting would simply mean that you would allow others to choose your representatives for you. And they will.
I am once again standing up to ask for the confirmation of your trust, but there is more than just my personal seat at stake. This election is about sending a message. It is about reaffirming that the politics of the centre, of moderation, of studied balance, still belong in our political circle – and that this place on the political spectrum needs to be consolidated and strengthened.
Either we stand up, or we watch from the fringes while the extremists, the racists and the criminals become our representatives in the European Parliament for the next five years, for all the world to measure us by.
Roberta Metsola is a Nationalist Party MEP.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece
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