Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo insisted in parliament on Thursday that those who make mistakes should move aside, especially when their actions impact on their colleagues and undermined their collective credibility.

Speaking in general terms and without mentioning anyone, Mr Bartolo said in parliament that all people, but especially those in public life needed to respect ethical and moral standards in what they said and did.

Politicians, in particular, needed to be loyal and ethical, fully in line with the commitments given to the people who elected them and the principles which their party espoused.

Their behaviour needed to instil confidence and credibility.

Unfortunately, Mr Bartolo said, a stage had been reached where all politicians, of both sides of the House, were not tarred with the same brush.
Well-meaning politicians who spent most of their time seeking to help other people were rightly offended when they were increasingly labelled with other politicians who put personal interests first.

One should not see all politicians in the same way – just as one should not label all priests in the same way because of the abuses of the few.

One could not criticise the government while doing worse. One could not be credible in hitting out against corruption – which existed in every corner of this country – if his own behaviour was called into question.

Those whose behaviour did not meet the ethical, moral and legal standards expected of them and who did not even realise the harm they were causing to their colleagues and their party not only had no credibility, but their ignorance was incredible.

It was good that the House had appointed a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, but ultimately it all boiled down to how honest and ethical one was.

He had no doubt, Mr Bartolo said, that most people wanted what was good for their country and society but it was a shame that many were getting disheartened, even giving up, because of what they saw.

The Nationalist Party, he said, had a glorious history of serving the common good. Those who represented the party, by their behaviour, were worthy representatives of the people.

One only needed to remember how (former party president) Victor Scerri resigned (following controversy about a permit application for his countryside house in Baħrija) even though he had done nothing illegal, as subsequently shown in court.

It was when people in public life were seen as being part of a gang of thieves, when their behaviour was not correct or ethical, that people became disillusioned – to the extent that eventually what was unacceptable became tolerated and values were turned upside down.

He would not be part of what was happening and in good conscience, would continue to speak his mind, Mr Bartolo said. Truth ultimately triumphed and karma existed.

But those people who saw their own organisation – whether it was a party or a church - crumbling and still acted in an unacceptable manner only compounded the damage. It was useless of them to preach morality, because morality had to be practised.

His hope was that such people would be seen for what they were and be blown away by voters. Those who raised a storm should expect to get wet.

If one really loved the organisation one represented, and if one’s behaviour was such that credibility was undermined and colleagues are harmed, then they should move aside and not cause more harm, Mr Bartolo said.

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