GUEST POST: Changing the game

Published: November 19, 2012 at 12:27pm

This is a guest post, which means that somebody else (who has to remain anonymous because his work contract prevents him from entering publicly into this kind of debate) wrote it for upload on this website.

This is, of course, clearly distinct from a ghost writer as used by others for their blogs to produce pieces which then appear under their own name.

I feel I must explain this as you can’t take anything for granted. Via the internet, unlike with a newspaper, you end up exposed to all sorts of levels of knowledge.

——–

Party deputy leadership contests are usually pretty inconsequential affairs. People give them polite attention while they last and then promptly forget about them and put their focus where the real power lies instead.

Not this time. The Nationalist Party deputy leadership contest matters greatly for two main reasons.

Firstly because people see it as a precursor to the leadership contest that would probably ensue in the case of a PN electoral loss.

Secondly, and more tantalisingly, because while polls suggest that a PN loss is highly probable, the choice of the new deputy leader might possibly be a game-changer, the last fling of the dice that could yet allow the PN to snatch a surprise electoral victory from the jaws of defeat.

The PN councillors who will make the decision have much to weigh up. They know that the party needs to heal and to rebuild. The question is, should they resign themselves to rebuilding in opposition? Or should the party work as hard as it can to win the election anyway, and to use the victory as a mandate for a fresh start?

There is a very strong argument in favour of doing everything possible to win the election. Every other Mediterranean EU member state is in deep trouble – systemic failure and social devastation in Greece, unimaginably high unemployment rates and the threat of state fragmentation in Spain, and deep social unrest and the ever-present threat of bailouts even in Italy, France and Cyprus.

In Malta? Fifth lowest unemployment in the Union. One of the few budget deficits in the Union that is at an acceptable level by EU standards, and what’s even more unusual, one that is moving in the right direction.

Government bonds routinely oversubscribed by Maltese private and corporate buyers, even as our neighbours have to pay crazy amounts in interest to get external lenders to buy theirs.

Make no mistake – Malta in 2012 is very far from paradise, but compared to our neighbours we have much to be thankful for. Many families might struggle to make ends meet, and fixing this must be a priority. But our homelessness and alcoholism rates have not exploded, the International Monetary Fund hasn’t come in to run our budget, tuberculosis and malaria haven’t made a comeback and we’re not experiencing a spate of suicides by evicted former home owners.

At a time like this, you do not change the government that has helped keep the country safe. This government – by having a vision and by putting in the regulatory and other frameworks to realise it – has turned us, for example, into an international finance centre, creating investment revenues and multiplier effects that have kept the economy buoyant in extremely adverse conditions.

And all this while having to navigate safely through distractions such as the credit crunch, the Arab Spring, the Euro debt crisis and the violent implosion of our largest neighbour.

Unfortunately polls show that in the process the government has lost touch with its key constituency, the aspirational middle class that has kept the Nationalists in government for so long. As we near the election the chances of reversing this become ever smaller.

But if there is any chance of reconnecting with this constituency, of salvaging this election, then that chance must be taken.

The deputy leadership contest might be that chance. If GonziPN, once a winning brand, is now tired and counter-productive, what better to replace it with than a leader-deputy tandem that combines the safe hands of the known with a fresh face and the promise of youth and change?

Can it work? Who knows, but if there’s even a chance it’s worth a try.

PN councillors owe it to the country and to their party to use their vote in the way that will maximise that chance. They have two solid candidates before them, both good people who have contributed much in different roles. Both can help the Nationalist Party rebuild.

But the councillors need to think coldly and clinically about one thing only – who offers the best chance of electoral victory?

Tonio Fenech deserves much credit for his work as finance minister. But he is already a member of the cabinet – indeed he is the choice of almost the entire cabinet. To that key constituency that must be re-won he would not represent a new element in the leadership of the party, but more of the same that the polls tell us they are currently rejecting.

Simon Busuttil, on the other hand, looks fresher, does not have a power base in the party, and, while always loyal, has been ready to say uncomfortable things to government. This is probably one of the reasons that ministers are supporting one of their own instead.

The all-important constituency that the Nationalists need to win back listened to Simon Busuttil and trusted him when he explained EU membership to them. They proved it by voting for him in previously unimaginable numbers in successive European Parliament elections, and he has repaid them by becoming one of the most highly respected MEPs.

If Tonio Fenech is chosen as deputy leader then nothing much changes – the PN is already in a losing position and it will lose, good guy though Fenech is. The consequence of this is that the country gets to be governed during a world crisis by a former Maltastar hack and his menagerie of dinosaurs, all of whom have been tried, tested and found to be very much wanting, some of them as far back as the days of Dom Mintoff and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, and others from the Sant years.

If Simon Busuttil is chosen, the PN councillors maximise the chances of a PN electoral victory.

Do they want it enough?


115 Comments Comment

  1. mattie says:

    Simon Busutil is the man.

    • Simon Busuttil is the man who kept silent when such blatant lies were told to the Maltese people about EU membership. Such as that : ” LM100 million per year will be coming from the EU”, without mentiong how many millions will be going from Malta to the EU ! ” With EU membertship, nothing will change as regards hunting and trapping” (This was said by Simon Busuttil’s MIC). ” Malta’s sovereignty will be strengthened with membership” ( and today we have to get the EU’s Ok to present the budget ). And finally, Simon Busuttil’s ” voluntary burden-sharing agreement” fiasco ! Is this the man who this person believes can be a game-changer ?? Some hope !

    • If Simon Busuttil wins, he will not even have the backing of the cabinet except Dr. Joe Cassar. Is this how Simon will be able to bring unity???

      • andi says:

        Joseph Muscat’s greatest fear is that Simon Busuttil becomes deputy leader because Simon had already proved he is considerably superior to Muscat when both were in Brussels.

        Just look at their track record.

      • Village says:

        If you hate Simon because he is the best choice that could keep you out of office then so be it.

        Thanks Eddy. But did you notice that the Nationalist are spoilt for choice when it comes to potential contenders whist the labour camp is so poor and devoid of any good names.

      • Bubu says:

        The fact that Privitera is so much against Busuttil is the one thing that convinced me that Busuttil would be the right choice for the PN.

      • mattie says:

        Mur intefa fuq xi comments-board ta’ l-Orizzont jew Maltatoday, Eddy.

      • haga mohgaga says:

        Your arguments are unfounded as even Joseph Muscat did not have the support of all key people in Labour. I can already hear Jose’ Herrera shouting in the PL Headquarters….min jaf ghaliex hux Eddy?

      • GiovDeMartino says:

        But how do YOU come into this, Ed? It is not Labour’s business what the PN does.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Why should you care? You’re voting for that ghastly Labour anyway.

        This is the deputy leader’s post, not the leader’s. You’re clearly thinking of the après-ski – er -après-election, and you’re assuming that Simon Busuttil will then become PN leader.

      • ninnu says:

        Eddy, the circus is in town.

  2. La Redoute says:

    Whoever it is, please don’t bring back Franco Debono and all that other rubbish.

  3. pampalun says:

    Well said. Tonio Fenech will actually boost Labour’s electoral strategy.

    But it is evident that this is now taking second priority within the PN, with all eyes now focused on the leadership battle.

    It is clear that lines are being drawn within the PN between the conservative quasi-confessional old guard, and the “liberal” secular neo-europeans.

    Unless it is all orchestrated, and I’m still not seeing the plot, I am disappointed that Demarco has chosen to throw his lot with the former, and has left Busuttil to defend the ground on his own.

    He may think that this may enhance his future leadership credentials. Hardly. If the old guard win this one, they will have the leadership secured. And Demarco will stand no chance.

    • Vanni says:

      Agreed.

      May I add a couple of words to your last sentence.

      “If the old guard win this one, they will have the leadership secured. And Demarco will stand no chance”, even if the coming election is lost.

      Also, Demarco stands no chance even if the old guard loses this one.

    • Alex says:

      Precisely my fears, I think a good chunk of the party is already preparing for the leadership race, which comes at a great cost on the upcoming elections.

    • andi says:

      It’s simple really. Should Simon Busuttil win then he stands a good chance of becoming the next PN leader having garnered enough votes without the support of eventual contenders.

      If Tonio Fenech wins, a race for leadership will also have Mario DeMarco and Chris Said in the running and these will seriously hamper Fenech’s chances, reducing his votes considerably.

      For Said and DeMarco to remain in the running they have to, out of necessity, back Tonio and defeat Simon Busuttil. They will work on defeating Tonio at a later stage.

  4. Paul Bonnici says:

    I believe that Simon Busuttil is the right man for the job. He will a breath of fresh air for the stagnant PN. Sometimes you need an outsider to sort out an organisation because he will look at things from a different angle.

  5. joseph says:

    Vote Simon, get Franco and Jeffrey.

  6. silvio says:

    How can anyone be stupid enough to vote for Tonio Fenech, who happens to be one of the main persons responsible for the BILLIONS of Euros that this country is burdened with?

    [Daphne – I would not be averse to being burdened with billions of euros.]

  7. JPS says:

    Precisely my thoughts and sentiment on this issue.

    Besides this, get rid of Paul Borg Olivier and let’s start afresh.

  8. David S says:

    Look at this http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/national/Casino-bid-whistleblower-on-why-he-disclosed-the-Rita-Schembri-emails-20121119

    How bloody ridiculous, Mr Rizzo. How can you compare the alleged “conflict of interest” of Ms Schembri with Dalligate?

    Can you please explain where the conflict of interest lies in Ms Schembri’s case?

    Casino di Venezia is NOT a government-owned company but a private company.

    To me her only misdemeanour is that she did not declare her private consultancy work, and allegedly performed this work during her normal office hours.

    How can you put that misdemeanour on the same level of an EU commissioner who allegedly “had oversight ” of a Eur60 million bribe and not reporting it.

    Mr Rizzo, would you kindly declare that you are the same person who very recently wrote a letter to The Times saying that you have had enough of this government (and posting comments on line saying that you will be voting Labour, encouraging others to do the same), countering an article written by I.M. Beck about change for the sake of change?

    Yes, you are one and the same.

    • oscar says:

      Excuse me for not being too sure on this one but is this the same Philip Rizzo who was notorious for having been responsible back in the eighties, in introducing with much fanfare some supposedly huge investment from Hong Kong which went belly-up with the loss by the Maltese government of hundreds of thousands of Malta liri?

      Just asking, because if so I will ask another question about ESU.

      • Tim Ripard says:

        And, if I recall correctly, John Dalli (PN) was completely taken in by the Hong Kong scammers…or was he perhaps pushing their cause forward in the hope of a fat envelope, a la Sargas?

      • ciccio says:

        Excuse me for not being too sure on this one, but wasn’t that investment announced with much fanfare by the then Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, John Dalli?

      • Gahan says:

        I recall when I went for an interview with AMS in Hal Far. An enthusiastic ex-headmaster of a technical school was the HR Manager who interviewed me, poor man. If I had been accepted that job, I would have ended up unemployed.

    • George says:

      David (or whatever is your real name) you should compare like with like.

      It is very wrong not to say deceitful to compare Ms. Schembri’s private business with Dalligate.

      Since Ms. Schembri’s private business does not interfere with her public duties there is nothing wrong.

      Her case could be compared with that of a doctor employed in the public service but who is allowed to perform his profession in private. Is there anything wrong in that? Surely you cannot compare that to Dalligate.

      I am tempted to suspect that there is something fishy in your story.

  9. paul says:

    The PN councillors always took the right decisions when choosing their leaders. No doubt, Simon Busuttil is the right man for this job.

  10. a. attard says:

    I do not hold anything against Tonio Fenech but I believe that at this point in time Simon Busuttil would be the right choice.

    • anna caruana says:

      The anonymous writer wants us to vote for for Simon on what grounds exactly.

      We know what Tonio can or can t deliver which is more than we can say for Simon.

      I give Simon full credit for his way of delivering PN propaganda. He s excellent with WORDS.

      Look how he handled the issue of Franco Debono, even you Daphne has stopped your attacks all of a sudden.

      I m certain it s not because of Simon since the PN doesn t pull your strings .

      [Daphne – What attacks, Anna? I wrote about Debono most recently only yesterday. And criticism is not “attacks”? An attack would be if I lay in wait for him in dark alley with a chainsaw, or drove over him and then told the judge “But he said I was gay.” Anyway, why do you find this so interesting, given that you don’t intend ever to vote anything but Labour?]

      • anna caruana says:

        My point exactly, yesterday was no attack. You ve been insulting him ever since his fall from Grace.

        [Daphne – Who is Grace, and why did she drop him?]

        Not that I don t agree with you when it comes to Debono.

        Thanks for pointing out what constitutes an attack by the way..

        And please stop assuming I vote Labour.

        [Daphne – Ah, but you do. That’s your real name and address.]

      • TinaB says:

        Hmm. Perhaps Anna Caruana wants to convince us that she is one of those “very many” imaginary PN supporters who are so irritated by what Daphne writes that they are going to vote PL this time. Jahasra.

      • Ian says:

        In reply to post below:

        lol @ Grace

  11. lord lucan says:

    Get a grip, all of you!

    How can Simon Busuttil be a front man for the PN? He is the most UNMaltese Maltese that I have ever seen, which in most situations would be a good thing, but not at the forefront of Maltese politics.

    Whatever the outcome, Dr. Busuttil will have an illustrious political career since he is squeaky clean and highly capable, so any future PN administration will need people like him to govern effectively.

    I have no particular love for Tonio Fenech but he definitely is more representative of the general population than Simon Busuttil is, and I think he has been a good Finance Minister in troubled times.

    If only he did not have the football freebie and JPM house renovation baggage, he would be the better choice.

    I think the main problem for the government is that the very top movers and shakers within the PM’s inner circle are cut off from the general population so what is needed to boost the party right now is a street level kind of politician who can let’s say speak the same language as the average man in the street, but I am baffled as to who this could be.

    Both Tonio and Simon will not make a big enough impact to reverse the current malaise in the PN rank and file, to change the outcome on the election.

    • AE says:

      Lord Lucan simon is giving up a position that he is good at and obviously enjoys for an almost certain seat in Opposition. Not to mention the financial cut he will be taking just by leaving his job as an MEP to become a member of the Maltese parliament.

      The two contenders are what we have and if I had a vote, which I don’t, I would vote for the person who I think would give the PN a shot at winning the next election, slim though that may be.

      Unfortunate perhaps, but Tonio Fenech had made a few errors of judgement. He is also supported by the unpopular Austin Gatt.

      To the disillusioned and those who want change, Tonio would mean more of the same.

      Simon Busuttil doesn’t have that baggage and seems to have broader national support across various sectors of society.

      By carrying out the exercise the PM asked him to carry out he has had the opportunity to listen to the various concerns of different segments.

      I think the party councillors should vote for Busuttil and give the PN the chance it needs to win the next election. The alternative is too frightening.

  12. edgar says:

    David S, that is the same Philip Rizzo and maybe you should ask him what his interests were in the San Andrea hotel in Taormina.

    Or maybe if he does not answer ask his partners who can tell you so much of this ”virgin” Rizzo and how they lost all their investments. More to come if necessary.

    • oscar says:

      Edgar, was it not his brother George who was living with the San Andrea owner’s daughter?

    • andi says:

      In 1991 Philip Rizzo was Chairman of the Malta Development Corporation. His boss was John Dalli, Minister for the Economy.

      Wonder of wonders

      • Oscar says:

        I did some research and confirmed that Philip Rizzo had sourced the supposedly huge conglomerate from Hong Kong. Mid Med Bank pinched the business from Bank of Valletta, lending millions with government guarantees.

        An organised exploratory visit to Hong Kong by Guess Who turned out to be the biggest con ever.

        The ‘entrepreneurs’ Rizzo had sourced hosted the bank and government officials at their corporate offices. These later turned out to be rental offices which had been rented for a day to impress the Maltese delegation.

        Loans from the bank were used to pay for very expensive high tech factory equipment which turned out to be scrap metal packed in impressive boxes. After this drama Philip Rizzo went to live overseas for a while. Perhaps someone could add a few more details, maybe even Rizzo himself, if he’s not too busy promoting Joseph Muscat, running down the government and explaining his plans to vote Labour.

      • PHILIP RIZZO says:

        Gentleman pen-named ‘Oscar’,

        Your ‘research’ is so clearly the product of crass incompetence that, even before I engage a lawyer, I hereby give notice of my intention to institute formal action to have your malicious allegations declared libellous.

        Of course, it will be for you to prove the ‘facts’ you have so confidently ‘confirmed'; for the time being it should suffice that your audience should know that:

        1. I was merely the London based representative of the MDC at the time of the AMS debacle and I was not part of any delegation to Hong Kong in connection with that fraudulent affair.

        2. I, Philip Rizzo, had not ‘sourced’ AMS; I had merely obeyed MDC Malta Head Office’s instructions in the matter.

        3. It is wholly misleading to allege that I ‘emigrated’ after that saga [ which happened in 1988/89, if I recall correctly]. Indeed, I was ‘promoted’ by Government to head the mega-project of the ‘San Raffaele’ Hospital in 1992 and I only returned to reside in London in April 1995 when I was being followed by an off-duty soldier on a motor bike after I ‘whistleblowed’ on Ing. Emanuel Farrugia, the proposed hospital’s Project Manager [ who was related to my then Minister ] when I discovered he had a material shareholding in a company called PPB Malta Ltd which was formed to produce ‘predalles’ [the ‘avant-garde’concrete slabs that he, an electrical engineer as opposed to a structural engineer had actively recommended for use throughout the mega building.

        An apology will be accepted if forthcoming within the next 3 days.

        Philip Rizzo ID 678151 (M)

  13. GiovDeMartino says:

    Can any of these “disgruntled Nationalists” tell me exactly why they are disgruntled?

    • Vanni says:

      Just compare PN87 to PN12 in terms of principles, quality of members of parliament, unity between members of parliament, leadership style, whether all PN voters feel represented in parliament like they used to be in 87.

      Having said that, PN in government is still better than the PL lot and this legislation has done wonders. But the party itself is in a pitiful state.

      • Mark Vassallo says:

        Just compare Malta1987 to Malta2012. The massive leap that this country has made is unbelievable.

        I can assure you that it cannot all be attributed to those 22 months under Labour.

      • Gakku says:

        In 1987 all the PN had the over-riding aim of getting rid of Mintoff, his stooges and the horrors of the 80s. This gave the party the unity which it needed, despite having people with very different political and social outlooks.

        In 2012, the issue which should be the focus of our politics, the economy, is well taken care of (at least compared to our neighbours), so we have really no over-riding aim. Voters feel disgruntled because everyone has his or her pet gripe which is not being tackled properly and Labour does its best to point this out without offering solutions.

      • GiovDeMartino says:

        Leadership style? I do not compare and contrast the present leadership style with that of other leaders.

        What we know for sure is that George Borg Olivier successfully negotiated independence without any trouble. Eddie Fenech Adami not only saved our democracy but he also made us full members of the EU and Law.

        Gonzi has managed to give us such a prosperous and modern country in spite of all the problems he had to face. Problems from outside and worse still, problems from inside. If the PN is in “a pitiful state”, he is certainly not to blame.

  14. Aunt Hetty says:

    I honestly think that Dr Busuttil would be a better choice especially when it comes to appealing to floaters and luke-warm Nationalists.

  15. FP says:

    “If Tonio Fenech is chosen as deputy leader then nothing much changes – the PN is already in a losing position and it will lose, good guy though Fenech is.”

    That sentence by your learned guest contributor is KEY, and should be made into an e-Banner and emailed to every PN councillor.

  16. PWG says:

    If track record and experience count for anything than the most deserving are De Marco, Fenech and Said, in no particular order.

    However, if the Nationalist Party still harbour ambitions of winning the election than it has to be Busuttil. The real battle for deputy leader and/or leader can wait for later, whatever the outcome of the election.

  17. Claude Sciberras says:

    Whilst in essence this article makes a lot of sense, as we day in Maltese jaqbadha naqra minn sieqha.

    First of all it is wrong to state that the most important thing for councillors to consider is who will give the PN an electoral victory. An electoral victory is not achieved because so and so is in power bit rather what that person represents and what he puts forward in terms of knowledge experience abilities and ideas amongst others.

    Dr Busuttil is a very worthy candidate but not because he is not part of the cabinet or because he is new.

    Dr Busuttil is worthy because he has proven himself. He is extremely knowledgeable and has charisma and a way of speaking with people that is fantastic.

    These are the reasons why one should be voting him as deputy leader.

    At the same it is wrong to say that minister French represents the old guard.

    First of all there is little that is wrong with the old guard and this is already very obvious from what some of the so called newer faces have given us so far and will become even more obvious when we will have a different government to compare with.

    Remember when people used to say it was time for Eddie to go? Remember when Louis Galea was done away with to bring in Franco Devono? The truth is that most want change for the sake of change. I think that change is good but you need to change for the better not for worse.

    Tonio Fenech is a young minister who has done extremely well and except for one particular incident has managed to keep a very clean profile. He has shown himself to be an excellent finance minister during hard times and this alone puts him as a worthy candidate.

    I don’t think we need to choose between Busuttil and Fenech based on who will win the pn the next election but who has the best qualities for the party we want.

    The PN is luckily spoilt for choice. How I wish the Labour Party were similarly spoilt and maybe even all of us when we go to the polls.

  18. Stingray says:

    This exchange of comments to an anonymous appeal not to vote for Tonio proves exactly the conclusions of the editorial in yesterday’s The Sunday Times.

    This is not going to be a clean contest between two friends like a cosy game of checkers. It will get tougher and the result, whichever way it goes, shall not be of any help to the PN in its present sad situation.

    [Daphne – Why are you complaining, when you don’t intend to vote PN and never did?]

  19. carlos says:

    Well, floaters seem to have abandoned the Nationalist Party.

    One hopes that they know what they are doing. The Labour Party has never been the party of floating voters.

  20. TROY says:

    Out with the old and in with the new, please.

    Tonio Fenech is a listener, yes, I went to talk to him once and yes he listened and listened and that’s all he did.

    Sorry Tonio, but you’re not suitable for this position.

    • Brian says:

      @ Troy

      I know the feeling. At least he did listen to you (was he really listening?).

      He did not even bother to make eye contact while talking to me. With pen in hand, he just gawked at a blank sheet of paper on his desk. That says a lot about a person.

      And NO, I was not asking for any handouts, or under-the-desk favour, whatever one of you wise guys out there might think.

      Can’t wait for the day he starts his pre-election constituency visits.

    • AE says:

      Looks like I was not the only one to experience this. Tonio Fenech does not even have the decency to listen.

      He thinks he knows it all.

      He sometimes gets it right but often gets it wrong too and that is precisely because he fails to listen.

  21. andi says:

    ‘I want to win deputy leader’s post to serve another five years in power’, says finance minister Tonio Fenech

    ‘to serve another five years in power’ certainly does not sound right. The pressure is starting to tell I guess.

  22. Logic says:

    Daphne, for once I do not agree with your analysis.

    [Daphne – This is not my analysis and this analysis favours Simon Busuttil, not Tonio Fenech.]

    The only two reasons why Tonio Fenech has a chance in this contest are because he is supported by the conservative wing of the party and individuals that have ambitions for the leadership contest themselves.

    Tonio Fenech has no chance of ever becoming PN leader and in an eventual leadership contest he would be torn to pieces by the same people who are supporting him today.

    There is no doubt that he is a competent person but he is too prone to gaffes and errors of judgement.

    Case in point was yesterday’s interview in The Sunday Times when he compromised Mario Demarco and Chris Said when it is obvious that they are only supporting him to further their ambitions.

    Contrast this with how Simon Busuttil dealt with the Prime Minister’s and Joe Cassar’s support so as not to put them in an uncomfortable position.

    There is absolutely no advantage in electing Tonio Fenech.

    The advantages of his and the government’s performance are already before the electorate. Even Joseph Muscat is now pledging to keep the PN’s policies.

    The electorate has no problem with the PN’s policies but rather with the people delivering them.

    The cabinet’s high profile backing of Tonio Fenech is another big gaffe which shows that they have lost touch with the people and the reason why the PN is lagging behind Labour in the polls. The problem is presentation not substance.

    The opportunity has presented itself to elect a new face who is overwhelmingly popular with the electorate and who would definitely add new impetus to the PN’s electorate campaign.

    The party’s primary concern should be the elections and nothing else. The choice is therefore obvious and anybody who thinks differently is definitely not acting in the party’s interest.

  23. Gahan says:

    Simon never got his hands dirty in Maltese domestic politics. We don’t know what he represents exactly when it comes to certain issues. He’s as mysterious as Joseph.

    I, for one am very worried about his personal life; why aren’t we told the truth about his ‘family’ life? Are the rumours which we have been hearing true?

    [Daphne – If they are the rumours put about by scurrilous anonymous websites, then no, they are not.]

    Weren’t we told about the details of Dr Alfred Sant’s marriage annulment? Joseph’s private life was bandied about also.

    I was shocked when I found out that Musumeci left his wife and his new born child, to go and live with another woman, who also left her husband. And people feel amused by the religiousness of Tonio Fenech.

    Don’t people have the right to know about Busuttil’s private life? Should we rely on hearsay with politicians saying only what suits them?

    Is Simon Busuttil a person I can rely on? From the little I have heard about him up to now, my conclusion would be a definite “No, he’s not fit to represent me”.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      If you’d bothered to read Simon Busuttil’s regular opinion pieces in The Times, you’d know exactly what he stands for. Oh but I forget, Maltese voters make up their minds by watching Xarabank.

      • Gahan says:

        I judge people mostly from what they do , and less from what they say or write.

        I rarely watch Xarabank. The only articles which I look for are Daphne’s and sometimes Mark Anthony Falzon’s.

        I prefer observing the body language in interviews. It says a lot.

        I cannot agree with Simon Busuttil on the so called mis-selling of funds to inexperienced investors when I know that some of the investors are economists.

        As an investor I have made some bad investments. Should I ask Busuttil to come for my aid? He forgets that there are electors who have shares in Bank of Valletta, as well as electors who made that bad investnment, and they don’t like politicians interfering in the banking business.

        If he were prime minister, would he have instructed the bank to hand out the money to these so-called inexperienced investors?

        How is it that HSBC’s investors in property funds got nothing? Why doesn’t Busuttil intervene there? Weren’t they also hoodwinked like the BOV investors?

        I don’t know Tonio Fenech’s opinion on this issue, but at least he did not make it public to try to gain votes, or perhaps the Finance Minister’s opinion is directly opposite to Busuttil’s.

      • Harry Purdie says:

        My friend, Simon has decided to immerse himself in local politics, that means the ‘night of the long knives’.

        I wish him well.

    • Gahan says:

      I first got to know about these rumours from young relatives. I don’t know whether what they told me was first read on some website.

      [Daphne – Their age is an indication that yes, it was.]

      Maybe we’re not talking about the same thing, and I don’t want to start false rumours.

      Maybe Simon can come clean from all this and explain what’s happened.

      We have a right to know, don’t we.

      • Albert Farrugia says:

        No Gahan, we don’t have a right to know about Nationalist politicians.

        We only demand to know things about Labour politicians.

        Nationalists are God’s special breed, even though those who steer the party from behind don’t believe in Him.

        Nationalists have the right to keep their private life secret. Who are we to demand to know what our Nationalist leaders do behind closed doors?

        [Daphne – Bollocks, Albert. The Labour media have absolutely no scruples about discussing the life of anyone associated with the Nationalist Party. If they’re not saying anything about Simon Busuttil it’s not because they’re so nice and good, but because there’s nothing to say. ]

      • Silverbug says:

        Sorry, Gahan but, a: the rumours are false and b: what difference would they make anyway?

        We’ve had PMs and deputy leaders with all sorts of family lives, why should it matter with Simon?

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        What rumours? Go on, spit it out.

        That his wife left him for another man because he is gay? That must be the pits of the Siculo-Maltese village mentality – a man can cheat on his wife, and it is the manly and virile thing to do (Mintoff) but if his wife cheats on him then it must be because he’s gay.

        Because, you know, the Most Feminist Nation thinks women have no free will and are chained to their husband. What a bunch of rot.

      • Brian says:

        @ Gahan

        No, you do not have that right.

      • AE says:

        Spot on, Baxxter. How typical of our petty society. People would prefer to believe vicious rumours rather than see them for what they are.

        Has it never crossed their mind that Busuttil does not discuss this openly out of love and respect for his sons?

        Busuttil has behaved like a gentleman in all this, as difficult as that must have been in the circumstances.

      • Gahan says:

        I heard many rumours and I won’t repeat them here, up to now I’m non the wiser.

        [Daphne – OK, Gahan, because I know who you are and that your question is genuinely meant, here are the facts of the matter. Mrs Busuttil met another man, a Belgian, while living in Brussels with her husband, Simon Busuttil. She left her husband (of her own free will) and went to live with him. A story as old as time.]

        I want the people who represent me to live, ass much as possible the ordinary normal life the majority of us are living.

        There are people here who think that abortion is OK, I want to know whether my deputy Prime Minister will be an odd ball, a philanderer, gay , a gambler , alcoholic or a hunter.

        We’re told here that politicians don’t have a private life, as soon as they are public persons they sell their private life.

        Don’t we see presidents of civilised countries hugging their wives and children when they win an election. Some are also seen smooching their wives.

        http://www.google.com.mt/imgres?q=smooching+presidents&hl=mt&sa=X&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=Wy4P6ALYMsFl3M:&imgrefurl=http://article.wn.com/view/2012/07/17/President_Obama_booed_after_initially_failing_to_deliver_Kis/&docid=MuqavyZ7StvF9M&imgurl=http://i.ytimg.com/vi/BAIJmcJhmrg/0.jpg&w=480&h=360&ei=JV6sUNCFDY3MsgaOqIDIDw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=527&vpy=431&dur=415&hovh=139&hovw=178&tx=88&ty=129&sig=108942272748825904910&page=1&tbnh=139&tbnw=178&start=0&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:0,i:103&biw=1425&bih=709

        People have the right to grill their politicians even about the stability of their relationships. How can someone lead a country while she or he has big personal problems back home?

        Politicians are said to discuss the running of the country in their families. I think that’s good.

      • Gahan says:

        Thanks for the info, Daphne. So now, Simon can have my full sympathy and as far as I’m concerned he is as good as Tonio Fenech to be the PN deputy leader.

        From my side, I thank God that I didn’t repeat the false rumours which I heard; they’re like feathers in the wind…difficult to pick and place back in a sack.

        As things stand, if Simon won’t win this one, he won’t be the PN leader.

        Something about Simon which I got to know today and worth noting: he is one of the few people who attend mass daily in Brussels. Unlike me, he makes time for such things.

        If he’s elected deputy leader there are two possible scenarios: the first and most likely would be that he will be co-opted as an MP and become Deputy PM and leader of the house.

        The second scenario could be that Tonio Fenech would be Deputy Prime Minister and there would be a small cabinet reshuffle.

    • anna caruana says:

      Ara vera Gahan to bring his personal life into it.

      What gives you the right to know about his personal life.

    • Louise says:

      Frankly it is none of your or anyone else’s business what happens in Simon’s personal life – this is why it is called his personal life.

      We must stop treating our politicians like celebrities. Their lives are not some reality show for the entertainment of the Maltese people.

      Politicians should be judged on what they stand for and on their track record – but this is where the buck stops.

      If you would like to get to know Simon and what he stands for than read his articles, follow his work and maybe attend one of the public get-togethers he organises.

      Then you can make a judgement on what kind of politician he is.

  24. dudu says:

    Here we go again.

    Bombastic claims, such as this – ‘These values are part of our country’s DNA.” – are Gonzi’s Achilles heel. Same applies to the rest of the so-called old-guard ministers. Their handling of civil rights and bio ethical issues are to say the least, clumsy.

  25. maryanne says:

    I think most people are reading too much into this deputy leadership contest. Many are assuming that the winner has a better chance of succeeding Lawrence Gonzi. That is not how it works.

    I believe the contrary to be true. If it were not the case why would DeMarco not have contested?

    Somewhere I read that after an election the post of deputy leader has to be confirmed through another election. If this is true the present race loses most of its importance.

    I would like to make another point. When Simon Busuttil campaigned for our entry in the European Union he managed to convince many and obtained the most votes. The Maltese scene and issues are a whole different scenario and as someone has already pointed out, I don’t think many can identify with Busuttil.

    The backing given to Tonio Fenech isn’t the result of a conservative faction of the PN. I think it is more a question of Busuttil being seen as an imposition or ‘the anointed one’. Most councillors will not accept that and will react to it.

    • logic says:

      DeMarco did not contest because he knows that if he loses this one he has little or no chance in a future leadership campaign. Same goes for Busuttil and he is taking a big risk. Tonio Fenech has nothing to lose because he was/is not being touted for leader.

      As yet I have seen no one high up in the party officially backing Busuttil. If anything it is the Cabinet that is trying to anoint one of their own to maintain the status quo. More than the councillors, I think it is the public that will react negatively to this through their vote in the next general election.

  26. L-Ghawdxi says:

    LETS GET SIMON.

  27. Brian says:

    Simon Busuttil’s record is untainted, unlike that of some other politicians.

  28. Alex says:

    It is really simple. Polls are showing that people want change, for whatever reason that is what they want, and it has to be accepted.

    The only way to give the last hope of having a chance in the coming elections is to have a fresh input.

    In addition, Simon is well known to be more of social liberal politician, a characteristic that is clearly lacking, or sidelined, within the party.

    Tonio has been a great Finance Minister but unfortunately the timing for him is all wrong.

  29. Frosta says:

    I am sorry but reading such a question below from your guest post makes me feels that the PN is not at the bottom level but under it. It is very simple to ask such a question but on what basis did he come to this conclusion?? For me this is political colour blindness.

    In my opinion it is the whole party and its policies that gives always the best chances of victory – this is not an individual issue.

    If Busuttil wins, this would be a real gift given by the PN councillors to the PL, meaning that the councillors disapproved the budget that is to be delivered in two days before the D/L election and all past performance of Tonio Fenech as minister of finance.

  30. David S says:

    @George It seems your level of English comprehension is limited.

    My post was about how ridiculous it is of Mr Rizzo to compare Ms Schembri with Dalligate.

    It appears that her misdemeanor was doing private consultancy work during her normal working hours and I questioned were was her conflict of interest as alleged by Mr Rizzo.

  31. bystander says:

    It’s obvious to me that Fenech is there to stop it looking like a shoehorn scenario.

    Let the mock battle commence.

  32. Last Post says:

    An interesting and timely issue.

    I’m not a member of the PN and have never been. Indeed, in 1976 I voted Labour and I started regretting it (it is a process) once the election result was known and I witnessed the violent gutting of practically every PN club.

    In this sense I don’t consider myself a Nationalist but a convert.

    There is no doubt that the election (any election for that matter) will be won or lost on the basis of the ‘floating’ voters, and not the diehards.

    Although I don’t consider myself a Nationalist, I do consider myself (and my family) middle-class, both ‘culturally’ and financially, and I don’t feel the PN owes me anything nor do I in any way feel disgruntled.

    This is particularly so when I consider what life was like under Labour and what it has been like these past 25 years or so.

    This does not mean that all PN voters feel the same way I do, but I suspect that the ‘disgruntled’ Nationalists are precisely the diehards. Those that in Franco Debono’s words are “Nazzjonalisti minn guf ommhom”.

    It is equally true that Malta hasn’t been a paradise but when you consider where we started from in ’87 and where we are now, particularly against the sombre economic background we’re witnessing around us, we should be thankful for what Nationalist governments since 1987 have achieved for us and for our country.

    If not so thankful, what’s the other option? And so it goes again, but all we’re left with is a vacuum filled with populist promises.

    So, yes, the PN councillors, probably being themselves (or representing) diehards, have a lot to weigh up before deciding who’s best as deputy leader.

    Needless to say, they would be highly tempted to opt for Tonio Fenech. This has already happened with the vast majority of the cabinet members, but as the writer of this piece has argued, Fenech would be seen by “PN outsiders” (i.e. floaters and potential PN voters) as one of the old guard.

    Therefore, although I could be happy with any one of the contenders, I would certainly prefer Busuttil. Difficult though it is for the PN, I believe that he is better placed to project the PN as a self-renovating party and equally capable of winning the minds and hearts of the genuine and open-minded sector of the electorate.

  33. the virgosign says:

    This is so spot on. The author has penned exactly the thoughts of many PN supporters.

    In a recent conversation with a very valid possible candidate for the PN deputy leader post, and on bring asked why he was not contesting when the critical step is to try to win the coming general election, the answer was “m’hux il-mument opportun”. Right, for whom?

    At first I was taken aback, but on further reflection, could it be to simplicise the choice between two rather then a case of the more, the merrier?

    Simon seems the populist choice with Tonio being an internal tactical bet.

    Both are very, very valid contenders, but it’s ultimately not how you play the game but how many goals you score.

  34. PWG says:

    Forget Simon. Conrad Mizzi could be the trump card the Nationalists have been looking for.

    It appears that Labour’s promise to slash the energy bills is based exclusively on the genius of this arrogant little pup.

    I can’t wait for his proposals to be torn up in shreds once dan is- sigriet ta’ Fatima is revealed.

  35. Albert Farrugia says:

    Oh my oh my! “Timing wrong for Tonio, Tonio is more if the same, backing of Tonio by cabinet a big gaffe, Tonio represents the conservative wing”. A new Dalli in the making? I am going to stay tuned!

    [Daphne – Try to contain yourself, Albert.]

  36. Martin says:

    Busuttil has already shot himself in the foot by admitting he was responsible for the promise (never meant to be kept) of reducing income tax in the 2008 PN manifesto.

    More of the same.

    [Daphne – Martin, shouldn’t you be attending to Labour’s business? I’m getting tired of doing it myself.]

  37. sos says:

    The PN should think seriously of having an efficient and forward-looking secretary-general.

  38. PHILIP RIZZO says:

    David S, Oscar, George, Edgar and Andi,

    The following are short replies to your attempts to shoot the messenger because his message about misdoings by a public official, for perhaps personal reasons, clearly does not ‘go down well’ with you:

    To ALL :
    To my knowledge there is only one Philip Rizzo in Malta who has a public conscience and the balls to report in his own name wrongs (or even crimes according to my law books) by public officials and to express his own fears that maltese society has been corrupted by vested interests even during these past 20 years.

    1. To David:
    When Government decides which authority is competent to investigate the OPM-PS allegations I assure you I will do my civic duty fully. I am a witness in possesssion of conclusive written evidence but as I said I am no judge…and neither I presume are you ( your veil does not allow me to be certain ).

    2. To Oscar:
    Please check your 1988/89 facts; check who was Chairman of the MDC then and who visited the AMS factories in HK which well after that visit official turned out to be non-existant.

    3. To George:
    Only judicial/governmental authorities can judge Ms. Rita Schembri; no doubt if I have been deceitful the authorities will not fail to bring the force of law down upon myself. I regretted they did not do so when I made public allegations about the FMSS Project Engineer Emanuel Farrugia during the ‘San Raffaele’ 2004 saga and I still wonder why?
    Your suspician that there is something ‘fishy’ about the OPM-PS story is absolutely spot on….IT STINKS!

    4. To Edgar:
    The story of the Hotel Villa Sant’ Andrea is a private and sad matter for the whole of the Rizzo family rather than for myself. If you would lift your veil and turn your insinuations into allegations, i would be happy to sue your pants off you…though the resulting lack of balls might be pitiful for the public to witness.

    5. To Andi:
    Regretfully, I was never Chairman of the MDC…only deputy chairman and I fell out with Mr. Dalli precisely because he did not keep his promise to me. That was over 20 years ago and we have not been ‘friends’ since…though never enemies.

    Conclusion: Enemies are people who use obscure pen names and make insinuations which are harmful well knowing that they do not have to prove their allegations in a court of law.

    Now if you will allow me, I will proceed to my law lectures which today start at 11:00hrs and finish at 19:00hrs.

    Philip Rizzo

  39. Simon Busuttill deputy leader of a Democratic Christian Party. Christian values…..mhux ta b’xejn il-PN qabad in-nizla.

  40. mm says:

    “At a time like this, you do not change the government that has helped keep the country safe.”

    This argument is quite untrue. Winston Churchill was defeated after having taken Britain through the worst of World War II.

  41. Michelle Pirotta says:

    There’s a big risk with Simon, though: having him elected, the PN will lose an important battlecry against Joseph Muscat: he’s inexperienced, except for some years in the EP. Simon Busuttil comes from exactly the same political background.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Nine years as MEP gave Simon Busuttil far great experience in the things that count – I say again, in the things that count – than any Maltese parliamentarian.

      If even an idiot like Joseph Muscat could leverage his position in the EP and weave a network of contacts up to the highest levels of European politics (Martin Schultz – BFF, François Hollande – the unrequited love), you can imagine what Simon Busuttil has managed.

      Much of the work of MEPs goes unreported, but they’re at the heart of policy-making for 300 million people, whereas our MPs make policy for their Hax-Shite constuency.

    • Alex says:

      That must be one of the worse comparisons ever.

      In Joseph’s case the party was at his service and made him who he is. He literally owes his underpants to the party, he never earned anything outside politics and his life is politics (which is why I am so terrified of him being my Prime Minister).

      Contrary, Simon is proven to be successful outside politics and contributed immensely to the party and even more to the country and many future generations.

  42. Brian says:

    Humbug, as Ebenezer Scrooge would have exclaimed to certain comments above.

  43. PHILIP RIZZO says:

    David S, Oscar, George, Edgar and Andi,

    The following are short replies to your attempts to shoot the messenger because his message about misdoings by a public official, for perhaps personal reasons, clearly does not ‘go down well’ with you:

    To ALL :
    To my knowledge there is only one Philip Rizzo in Malta who has a public conscience and the balls to report in his own name wrongs (or even crimes according to my law books) by public officials and to express his own fears that maltese society has been corrupted by vested interests even during these past 20 years.

    1. To David:
    When Government decides which authority is competent to investigate the OPM-PS allegations I assure you I will do my civic duty fully. I am a witness in possesssion of conclusive written evidence but as I said I am no judge…and neither I presume are you ( your veil does not allow me to be certain ).

    2. To Oscar:
    Please check your 1988/89 facts; check who was Chairman of the MDC then and who visited the AMS factories in HK which well after that visit official turned out to be non-existant.

    3. To George:
    Only judicial/governmental authorities can judge Ms. Rita Schembri; no doubt if I have been deceitful the authorities will not fail to bring the force of law down upon myself. I regretted they did not do so when I made public allegations about the FMSS Project Engineer Emanuel Farrugia during the ‘San Raffaele’ 2004 saga and I still wonder why?
    Your suspician that there is something ‘fishy’ about the OPM-PS story is absolutely spot on….IT STINKS!

    4. To Edgar:
    The story of the Hotel Villa Sant’ Andrea is a private and sad matter for the whole of the Rizzo family rather than for myself. If you would lift your veil and turn your insinuations into allegations, i would be happy to sue your pants off you…though the resulting lack of balls might be pitiful for the public to witness.

    5. To Andi:
    Regretfully, I was never Chairman of the MDC…only deputy chairman and I fell out with Mr. Dalli precisely because he did not keep his promise to me. That was over 20 years ago and we have not been ‘friends’ since…though never enemies.

    Conclusion: Enemies are people who use obscure pen names and make insinuations which are harmful well knowing that they do not have to prove their allegations in a court of law.

    Now if you will allow me, I will proceed to my law lectures which today start at 11:00hrs and finish at 19:00hrs.

    Philip Rizzo

    • Oscar says:

      Mr Rizzo, glad you did not deny any of the facts I mentioned.

      Now I would like you to tell us why those days you bragged for months on end about about being the one who responsible for sourcing AMS to set up shop in Malta but then you somehow did a disappearing act after AMS were found out to have been probably the most notorious con artists to hit the Malta government and the banks.

      And we are talking millions of euros here.

      Your bragging automatically carried with it full accountability, especially as you were then MDC deputy chairman.

      Your statements these days about you seemingly being the only one to have ‘a public conscience’ make you out to be a so-called whistleblower who’s holier than the pope.

      I beg to differ.

  44. jpeg says:

    My 2p…

    We wouldn’t be discussing this topic if reasonableness prevailed at an earlier stage.

    Practical reasonableness is a virtue Tonio Fenech lacks, otherwise how can we explain what he is doing here?

    If he really cared for the country/government, he should have withdrawn his nomination, yesterday.

    The PN needs Simon and I can’t get over the fact that Fenech cannot see the obvious.

    I’m beginning to think he’s just another megalomaniac, who’s contributing to the woes of the PN.

    PN strategists will of course ensure Simon is elected deputy leader, but till then we would have wasted more time, which they don’t have.

    Tonio, a word of advice – there’s only one honourable thing to do here. Withdraw your nomination and let’s elect Simon by default…tomorrow. Good night, Daphne

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