The Rolling Sants – Mud-Slinging Tour 2008
Buy the T-shirt at Labour HQ, Mile End
So guess what Alfred Sant did today. He went on a ‘mini tour tal-korruzzjoni’ with the Three Stooges. I am not joking – that’s what he called it. And no, it wasn’t organised by Norman Hamilton Tours, either.
They were in a bit of a hurry, so they scheduled only five stops: the docks (where a journalist reminded him about what happened the last time he raised the subject), the Regional Road bridge (where another journalist asked him whether the next stop would be Birzebbugia, to talk about DNA Mangion’s Freeport flats), and the Transport Authority’s offices (where a journalist asked him whether they would also be going to the airport to talk about the Labour Party’s business delegation to Dubai).
You’re right. You only counted three stops there, not five. That’s because Sant told his press entourage that there wasn’t enough time to make the other two stops – to the MEPA (what a surprise) and to the Ta’ Qali Crafts Village. There’s corruption at the Ta’ Qali Crafts Village? Apparently not – he was only going to drag the press there to talk about asphalting that had never been done. Now that’s a really serious problem. The government should have put the deficit and the Eurozone on hold, and seen to it first.
There was a similar Corruption Tour in the 1996 electoral campaign, but it was much, much busier. They spoke about bus-ticketing machines and barunijiet, paraventi and hbieb tal-hbieb, piling scandal upon scandal. Sant is probably hoping to repeat that success by using the same strategy. In that campaign, people were so focussed on their desire for Schadenfreude, and so impressed by the modern man in his two-sizes-too-large jacket (or is it just that he has unnaturally short arms?) that they never stopped to ask him what he would do once he got into government.
How was he planning to run the country – by shouting abuse from his office window at the Auberge de Castille? To our great horror, we found out that the answer to this question – the one almost nobody asked – was yes. He carried on behaving in government exactly as he had been behaving in Opposition, shouting about hofor and corruption and scaring the bejeezus out of every investor who had half a thought of coming here to set up shop. And all we got was a hofra that grew by the day and soaring unemployment.
Bring it on. We’re waiting.
Chicken Run Sant and his Three Stooges have just two days of campaigning to go. If they don’t use them to tell us what in heaven’s name they plan to do when in government – except wreak chaos, that is – we are never going to find out until it’s too late.
The closer we get to the day, the more ridiculous their stunts and gimmicky campaigning become. And everywhere they go, they look like a funeral procession trailing gloom and doom in their wake. They’re like a bunch of gangster extras from Pulp Fiction – the ones that were left on the shelf just in case the real actors called in sick. Three of them look about as light-hearted as circling vultures, and the other one splits his face into a look-at-me smile every time he sees a camera.
Chicken Run Sant and his winning team in the winning bus
Well I must say, they’re very confident, aren’t they? This week, the kowc tal-bidla has become the kowc tar-rebha. And with all those morose and glowering vultures on board, it isn’t the most inspiring sight.
Sant is turned on by corruption
The only time we ever see him animated is when he’s talking about corruption. Then he gets really excited. His dead-fish eyes light up. His face comes alive. His body actually moves like that of a normal person, instead of the usual lower half of one arm jerking oddly from the elbow, with the trunk of the body and the shoulders rigid as though held fast in a full-body cast. And please don’t get me started on the hands. Each time he holds up his right hand in that palm-upward, thumb and forefinger gesture, the only thing I can think of is how unusually small and neat it is for a man’s. Girly hands on a man give me the heeby-jeebies.
I used to think that Chicken Run Sant had an obsession with corruption. Now I think it’s a fetish. At the merest trigger of a suggestion, he becomes lost in a reverie of kafe jew tnejn, dud fil-gobon, networks tal-hbieb (‘this is the trouble with corruption; they cover up their tracks’). It’s an oft-repeated and well-rehearsed spiel, and it’s now verging on a sick obsession. I can actually see his mind spinning through the plots. It’s the thwarted novelist in him. Chicken Run Sant is out to get Them, but if They confront him, he runs away to the warm safety of Jason and the Super One studio.
Sant goes back to the studio after first checking the premises for signs of Jeffrey
The sight of Chicken Run Sant being turned on by talk of corruption was the (poor) highlight of his Broadcasting Authority ‘press conference’ (for it is anything but) which was televised earlier tonight. This was the one that had to be rescheduled after he fled in his getaway Mazda at the sight of Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando in the recording studio.
The only time we saw him come alive in that dead show was when he found an opening to start banging on about corruption and how They cover Their tracks. Who are These people? Well, we don’t know, do we, because Chicken Run Sant isn’t telling. His latest excuse is that he’s waiting for the Whistleblower Act to protect his sources. Why doesn’t he wait until he becomes prime minister and promote them instead? After all, that’s probably what they had in mind when they passed on their hot tips.
That nice, sensible journalist from Il-Gens asked him how long he’d had his ammunition, but Sant wasn’t telling. ‘It doesn’t matter how long I’ve had it,’ he said. Translated, this means he’s had it for a long time, but doesn’t want to say so because he knows it makes him look like an opportunist out to win an election by any means, rather than somebody who genuinely has the national interest at heart.
The nice journalist pressed home his point (nicely): ‘But do you think it’s the right thing to do, making all these accusations in the last week of the campaign, when the people you are targeting don’t have the right opportunity to counter your claims, and when the people who are voting don’t have the time to weigh up the situation properly?’ Chicken Run Sant wouldn’t budge. Instead he took this as the cue for more excited talk about corruption.
That no-nonsense Amanda from the Nationalist Party press pointed out that he hadn’t called a press conference, published a book in the Sensiela Kotba Socjalisti or reported the matter to the Paraventu Commissioner (my words, not hers) when he was prime minister and his personal assistant – that man who looks like an unemployed waiter, Joe Borg – was found to have been building a ‘farmhouse’ without a permit in a rural area. Sant performed his party trick and blanked her completely, taking her question as yet another cue to thrill to the excitement of corruption under a Nationalist government.
Amanda wasn’t having any of that. She asked him what he planned to do about his shadow minister of finance (and the other one) who had been found not to have declared earnings from flats rented to the Freeport, at a time when both of them were in Sant’s cabinet.
So if Chicken Run Sant becomes prime minister, we’re going to have a minister of justice who was a police inspector in the early 1980s under Lorry Pullicino, and a finance minister who sent his wife to cash his rent-cheques and failed to declare the income. And then Sant has the nerve to scream and shout about the failings of others.
The spiel about the reception class changes yet again
First they said it would mean an extra year in school, and all the kids would leave at 17. Then they said it would apply to all schools – state, church, and independent – because of the national curriculum. Then they justified it by saying it was based on the British system. Then when it was pointed out to them that our system is already the British system because it was set up by the British, and that British children leave compulsory schooling at 16, they changed the story again. Compulsory schooling wouldn’t end at 17, but at 16. But it does so already, we said, and scratched our heads.
So where was that extra year going to be squashed in, then? Perhaps they’ve teamed up with Paul Vincenti and Gift of Life to teach three terms in the womb – nine months is just perfect.
In his BA press conference tonight, Sant tried to clear up the mystery by adding to it. He actually answered one question, and it was about this. A year is not necessarily a year, he said. It could be three months. Or it could be a year. And it could be after kindergarten, or before primary, and you know how some children are born in January and others are born in September (yes, Alfred, we did know that), well that’s what he means and that explains it then.
The nice journalist from Il-Gens, who asked the question, looked as though he had been pinned to the wall by a Scientologist intent on explaining to him how alien beings can spy on his thoughts if he doesn’t wear a tin-foil hat.
And none of us are any the wiser. It looks like this repeater class is going to be a rerun of the tax nightmare of ’96.
A comment posted on this blog, which deserves further attention
“I notice that many people believe that Alfred Sant’s behaviour at the BA press conference was acceptable. Maybe that is why he believes he can behave in such a manner with impunity.
People who think Sant’s behaviour is acceptable are not familiar with the internationally accepted protocols of press conferences. I have attended several and have never seen a situation where any prospective speaker asked for the removal of a member of the audience and called for the police to ensure that it happens, much less a speaker who is a would-be and has-been prime minister.
There have been many occasions when speakers at press conferences faced a challenging audience, knowing their every move and word would be broadcast around the world. That is exactly what they did. They faced their audience and they took their questions. They didn’t split hairs over whether those questioners had a right to be in the room; they didn’t call for the police to remove the people they didn’t like, and they didn’t evoke the letter of the law to back up their presumption that they do not need to respond to questioners they don’t like.
It matters little who mentioned the police first in this row. What matters is that would-be Prime Minister Sant expects the police to help him silence an opponent.
It is sinister that institutions set up to ensure free and fair information fail in their mission because of pressure from a would-be prime minister.” – Corinne Vella