The Lion of Change eats lunch with Ic-Caqnu

Published: March 4, 2008 at 2:45am

I’ve just finished watching BondiPlus. It turns out that just before Labour made such a great fuss about the Safi supermarket permit resignations at the MEPA (the project is one of Charles Polidano’s), Labour’s Lion of Change was seen eating lunch with Ic-Caqnu himself – his guest at the Le Meridien in St Julian’s. I wonder what he chose off the menu – half an ox, probably.

You can’t do anything on this island, can you?

And so the lovely Rachel Attard found out and confronted the unlovely Alfred Sant under one of his many tents. Sant answered her with the question we have all come to expect from him now, ‘Ghaliex le?’ I’ll put the rest of his reply in English, to save my having to translate for our international viewers: ‘If they were eating together, I hope it was a nice meal in an informal context. Can’t one person eat with another?’

Apparently not, because when Sant’s stork-like sidekick Charlon Gouder found a years-old photograph of Jesmond Mugliett having dinner with the architect Robert Sant – who is now working on the infamous bridge – he stalked the prime minister with it in his hands for days. You have to hand it to Charlon: he’s a single-issue man. His obsessions verge on perversion.

So let’s see now – why would the Lion of Change have been lunching a deux with Charles Polidano, one of the barons that Labour dislikes so much, saying that he gets whatever he wants from this government? Perhaps the Lion of Change was dispatched to secure a donation for his party’s coffers. We know that Labour are such bad financial managers that they’re always broke. They pay their people peanuts, and when I won a libel suit against them, and they had to pay me around Lm600 (Joseph Muscat was required to pay another Lm600), my lawyer ended up having to place a warrant of seizure on all their bank accounts – and still we just couldn’t find that Lm600. I had to call Jason Micallef and threaten to send in the bailiffs for Alfred Sant’s desk and computer and finally I got a cheque in the mail.

That’s Labour for you. Then they want to tell this government how to make the economy grow by 4% (when it’s growing by 4% already – oh sorry, that was a misprint; we meant 6%).

Watch your tongue, Gunther Verheugen

Gunther Verheugen put in an appearance in the 2003 general election, reminding us that what the Nationalist Party says about Europe isn’t spin but fact. It seems that the people of Malta won’t believe their own prime minister and must have outside confirmation. Needs must when the devil drives.

Now here’s Verheugen again, interviewed via satellite link for BondiPlus, telling us that what Sant says he’s going to do isn’t ‘legally possible’, and even if he were to attempt the impossible and try, he’s going to have to knock on 26 prime ministerial doors and make his case to each and every one of them. That’s something that has never happened before, Verheugen said.

Sant wasn’t on the show to say that he’d bite off his long tongue, like he did last time, but his old friend Evarist Bartolo was, as slimy, snake-like and underhand as ever. And what is this problem that Labour people have with heckling the prime ministers they don’t agree with? My abiding memory of the 2003 general election is of Sant heckling Fenech Adami in that washerwoman’s voice he uses when he’s cross, even as the credits rolled in the last Broadcasting Authority debate of the campaign.

Now here was Evarist Bartolo, talking over the prime minister and interrupting him, not letting him say that the reason Malta is in the Eurozone in the first place is because Sant is wrong about Malta being in a financial mess. You can’t be in a financial mess when you enter the Eurozone. It’s not allowed. If Gonzi were of the washerwoman frame of mind, like Bartolo is despite pretending to be an intellectual like Sant, he might have said: ‘The Labour Party would know all about finances that are in a mess, wouldn’t it?’ But he’s not that kind of man, and that’s why people prefer him to The Other One.

Gonzi coins a slogan for Labour

‘Aghzel Labour ghax ihammeg’ – a sort of reverse washing-powder, perhaps. Throw a dash of Labour in your washing-machine and your laundry comes out dirty and stinking.

I have a theory about Sant and the EU

He keeps repeating that the referendum result counted for nothing in his book, that he has no regrets about his stance on EU membership, and that the only verdict he rates is the verdict in a general election.

Now he lists the various fights he intends to pick with the European Union. He also has one of those dreadfully incapacitating mindsets that allows for no revision of a fixed view. People miss this fact because on other matters, Sant chops and changes as he goes along, all in the interests of opportunism. But those are minor issues as far as he’s concerned. On his major, life-defining issue of EU membership for Malta, he hasn’t changed his tune for 40 years, and he isn’t going to.

So, taking all these factors and clues into consideration, this is what he’s revving up to do. First he makes it plain that he’s still Eurosceptic and that he plans to ‘renegotiate’ with Europe. That way, we are forewarned of his intentions, and if we elect him prime minister, he will consider himself as having a mandate to press forward with his Eurosceptic approach and his attempts at renegotiation.

When his renegotiation attempts fail at the first hurdle, he’ll begin trying to pull us away from, and ultimately out of, the European Union. Because he doesn’t believe in referendums, but only in general elections, he won’t even ask us for our opinion. We can march and mass and protest in streets and squares as we did in the 1980s, and he’ll just ignore us and tell us that the result of a general election is what counts, and we voted for him to renegotiate with Europe.

Gonzi keeps asking why there is nothing in Labour’s electoral programme about what they plan to do with the €855 million in funds that will come in from the EU. Well, that’s the reason why. Sant’s plan is to have nothing whatsoever to do with the EU, still less with its funds. It’s dirty money to him. Show him a bunch of euros, and he recoils. I haven’t heard him say the word ‘euro’ once in this entire campaign.

If he has his way, there’ll be no funds to bother about because there’ll be no EU membership to bother about either.

He still hasn’t forgiven us for voting Yes in that referendum. He really can’t stand us for doing it. He despises all those of us who are pro-European, and that’s another reason he despises university students – because they booed him for trying to keep them out of the EU. That’s why he’s turning this general election into a No vote for Europe and hoping that we’re fool enough not to notice.

Evarist the democrat

Evarist Bartolo said on BondiPlus that we shouldn’t be afraid Labour will take us out of Europe. With that expression of outraged honour that he likes to wear – when he’s not wearing the one that says ‘I’m an intellectual and you’re not’ – he turned to the prime minister and said: ‘At our party’s general conference in 2001, we decided that if people vote for EU membership in the 2003 general election, we will respect their decision.’

Ar’hemm hej. Allahares le, as my grandmother would say. How did they structure the question for that vote, I wonder: will we or won’t we respect the people’s verdict in the 2003 general election? Then they vote to respect the people’s decision and applaud themselves for being democratic. What are these people, and which part of what deeply secluded jungle did they come from?

You will notice that Bartolo made no mention of the referendum that lay up ahead when he and his party folk took that landmark vote for democracy at the 2001 general conference. The Iva/Le campaign was already up and running, but they were pretending that no referendum was going to happen. We forget just how bad Sant really is: while Malta was gearing up for a referendum vote, he was gearing up to pretend that it never happened (except for that brief moment when partnership won and he was drunk on a lorry with his tie askew, wondering what fate now held in store for him).

VAT on school ties and 5% off an atlas

I want to rush at the television screen and give that Evarist Bartolo a good shake when I hear him speaking about things that he can’t possibly believe in. The man wasn’t born without a brain, and he knows how to maximise his advantages. For example, he fought against EU membership in the trenches at his friend Sant’s side, but I knew he couldn’t possibly dislike the idea. Then, when his super-intelligent high-achieving daughter (a really smart girl) won a place at Cambridge, he was able to take advantage of EU membership and the fact that he doesn’t have to pay the crippling fees that apply to non-EU citizens.

You have to hand it to Labour. They really know how to work the very system they pretended to fight against to keep the irascible Sant happy. Some of the party’s keenest front-line anti-EU fighters were the first to stick their noses into the European Commission trough.

So why did I want to give Bartolo a good shake this time? It was when I heard him defend Sant’s nutty proposal about what he claims is VAT on education. Not only is there no VAT on education, but education itself is completely free for those who need it like that, paid for mainly out of other people’s taxes. How do you slap VAT on something for which you pay nothing?

The Labour Party thinks very little of its supporters if it thinks they’ll swallow this. But apparently, some of them do. I watched Claudette Baldacchino interviewing them at a mass meeting the other week and they were all saying how good this measure will be because VAT on education is almost forcing them to go out and beg on the streets.

Lou Bondi pointed out to Bartolo that the Labour Party defines ‘VAT on education’ as VAT on school ties, atlases, schoolbooks (the VAT on any sort of book is a measly 5%), computers, software, desks, stationery, pens, satchels, shoes, uniforms – with children, the list is endless. As Bondi remarked, what’s to stop parents buying assorted desks and pieces of furniture or computers for themselves, and then claiming them as educational items under Labour’s whacky policy?

Bartolo wasn’t amused. He put on his expression of outraged honour again. How dare Bondi criticise Sant’s policy? ‘You’d better be careful,’ he warned him in that Labour voice, ‘or we’ll know for sure that what people say about you is true.’

‘What do people say about me that’s true?’ Bondi asked. And Bartolo replied, ‘They call your show GonziPlus.’ Oooooooh – harsh one, Ev. You really have to hand it to these Labour big cheeses: the ability to crack a good joke is not their strong point.

For those of you who are curious about this Amazing Plan for VAT Off Education, this is how it works. Bartolo explained it. They’ll get into government and then they’ll see. Just like with the surcharge. And just like when they removed VAT and found themselves reinventing the tax wheel.

They do have a vague outline, though: parents will collect all the receipts for every single pen, pencil, school tie, atlas and blank CD they buy. Then every couple of months they’ll send these mountains of receipts off to a special VAT-Off-Education Department, where a thousand little elves will be employed to sort through the thumbed and well-worn detritus and check each little stub carefully for cheating. Then they’ll them up, work out the VAT element in each total, check the parents’ details, and work out a VAT refund to be allocated along with the children’s allowance.

Practical, isn’t it? Just like all Labour’s stupid gimmicks, it doesn’t make sense (why are we not surprised, when the person who comes up with them doesn’t make any sense either?). Wouldn’t it be cheaper and cost far less in man-hours to just slap on a straightforward increase in the children’s allowance cheque?

Ah, but no – that doesn’t have the right ring of a gimmick about it. VAT-Off-Education (when education is free) sounds a whole lot better than Vote for Us and Get Another €100 of children’s allowance every year. Telenovela Sant is at it again.

Labour strikes oil

I’m still waiting for the moment in this election campaign when Labour United produces a giant geological map and tells us that its secret oil-rigs have struck liquid gold.

Under yet another tent, this time in Senglea, Sant gave us his word that he will strike oil when elected prime minister (‘Ghaliex le? Konvint.’).

He most certainly is hoping he will, because it’s the only chance he’s got of solving the problem he’s landed his party with before they’ve even got into government. Lino Spiteri must be wiping the sweat off his brow with relief that none of this is ever going to be his responsibility.

You see, Sant is still sticking to his guns about halving the electricity surcharge for families (the European Commission won’t let him halve it for businesses, as that counts as state aid), even as the price of oil hit €103 a barrel in the last couple of days. When he first made his reckless commitment, oil cost €89 a barrel. In the mere course of this electoral campaign, the cost to the taxpayer of Sant’s opportunistic electioneering promise has soared by millions of euros.

Where’s he going to get that money? Don’t look around the room, because there’s nobody else there but you.

Being positive hurts them in the guts

The prime minister and Evarist Bartolo were asked to give just one final sentence each to wrap up that edition of BondiPlus. Well, what do you know? Bartolo stuck to the grand old Labour tradition of manipulating negative sentiments. ‘If you have always voted PN and are fed up of this government, come to us. Vote Labour,’ he said.

Classy act, our Ev – he would use his last TVM comment before the general election to address the disgruntled Nationalist vote, instead of filling us with hope and inspiration at the wonders of a new Labour government.

Come over to the Dark Side. Darth Vader is waiting for you.

23 Comments Comment

  1. John Schembri says:

    Dr Sant’s and Evarist’s “They’ll get into government and then they’ll see” policy , only shows us that for the last ten years the MLP was practicing PLACEBO POLITICS.They will never give us REAL solutions they are only good at dishing out red herrings and PR .

  2. Simon says:

    When he was talking about finding oil in Senglea, Sant offered Joe Mizzi’s resignation if they do not find any oil (Joe Mizzi ikollu jirrizenja). Poor Joe! First he was appointed Minister without portfolio in 1996and now he will have his head chopped off, if we don’t strike oil. Poor guy. On Xarabank he declared that he lives a hard life and wakes up at 6 am every day. Why on earth did he choose this career? Is his self esteem so low?

  3. Albert Farrugia says:

    “Slimy, snake-like and underhand as ever”. These are the words now being used against Evarist Bartolo. Some have been saying that all Labour needs is a new Leader…and it would win hands down. That Dr Sant is Labour’s liability. But just take a look at what’s in store for the next Leader, whoever he might be. A few minutes’ appearence on Tv to explain his party’s stand is enough to leash a barrage of personalised attacks. This was the exact same tactic used against the then leader of the PN in the 80s. The result we all know.

  4. Leonard says:

    ” … half an ox”? I think “nofs pastizz” would have been more prudent.

  5. Massimo says:

    Who was that guy sent by Azzjoni Nazzjonali? He looked a tad insecure and prone to being head-flushed in school toilets.

  6. Clint Zammit says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong. Does anybody remember back in 1996 general election , canditate Evarist Bartolo taking part as a journalist (altough he was a canditate)in TV press conference?

  7. Charles Portelli says:

    @ Massimo

    more to the point; why all the fuss on JPO to be kicked out of the studio, while no one from the BA /MLP said anything about the AN candidate?

    Isn’t this a blatant “two ways, two measures” case?

    (with apologies to my “broken” English)

  8. Jean Pierre Attard says:

    Come on Dr. Alfred why are you running away from Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando? Don’t you think that a person who is fighting for his right to talk face to face with you will be right in the point which he will be talking about? Don’t you think running away from a person who has a high esteem from the Maltese citizens will make you look more cowardly than you are? Don’t you think that you are very misinformed or else wrongly informed about his case? I think that if someone takes you to court like he did has a good reason to do so, I can’t imagine myself taking someone to court when I’m wrong. Do you think that the Maltese citizens which have a normal IQ will understand that you are lying with every breadth you are taking. You and your party are trying to do so to win the election because you have no good and precise plans in your mind. I have never heard anything good coming out from your mouth explaining what your party is going to do if you will be the prime minister of Malta. Do you think that if you will pay the employees an hour per hour overtime will be good? Ohh sorry I think so because you did so to your people working for you at Super One. Do you know something about the education on Malta. You wish! You did say that De La Salle collage had the Reception class, this is contradictory for what the brother said in an interview with one of the Net TV journalists. He said that the only reception class they only have is from July till August which will have 12 sessions and is not a mandatory period. I also must add that parents sending their children over to the reception class must pay the fees. You should have done some kind of research before you have talked about something which in Malta we already have and has been going on for years now. The reception class in Malta does have another name for it which is Kinder 2. Ok no problem you must have been mistaken about the name of it!! But how can the Maltese citizens vote for you to gain a very good position like this when you can’t even do simple logistics that the English people have a reception class for students which are 6 years or a bit less and in Malta we have the same class but with a different name? How can we give you the right to have in your possession the Governments money when with simple logistics you have been proved mistaken. Imagine trying to sort out difficult account when a simple comparison between the Maltese education and the English education has been done wrong.

    Jean Pierre Attard

  9. John Schembri says:

    The AN candidate John Spiteri Gingell seems to be also assistant Party leader of AN we saw him also on Bondi+ where Sant Alfred did not show up fearing Jeffery , MAAAAA!And why wasn’t Mangion there?

  10. Laurence Tanti says:

    Hi Daphne,

    I hope all is well, I must say that I love reading what you write as you always say the truth, I would like to tell all Nationalist followers and all of Malta to just look at the way the Labour party team present themselves, All they are interested in is throwing mud at other people and making accusations that never follow through, I look at the way that talk at their meetings: they are violent people, it scares me to think that people like this may have a chance in running our country, I plead with the Maltese population to think it over and over again before you give a vote to the Labour party as they have no direction and no plans whatsoever, don’t be fooled by the promises they are giving as any body in their right state of mind can see and realise that all they offer cannot be followed through, they want a quick win as they know that if they don’t make these outrageous promises they don’t have a chance in hell of running our country. For years the Labour Party team have portrayed themselves as being violent and arrogant people. They don’t have the slightest idea of what it takes to run a country, Their mentality has not changed from when Malta was run by mintoff and everybody knows what those times where like.

    Alfred Sant has an evil look in his eyes and you can tell that when he looks at his own people that he doesnt even beleive in them let alone the country,

    Jason Micallef is a sly person, he always has that stupid grin on his face which shows me that he is nothing more than a puppet, He never answers any questions given to him and he is always trying to portray himself as the modern part of the Labour party but in reality he is just a puppet on a string,

    Well that’s all for today from myself, I urge Malta to Vote for Gonzi Pn as he is a true leader with true Plans for our Country,

    Laurence Tanti

  11. europarl says:

    You should thank Alfred Sant for ensuring a Yes victory in the 2003 referendum. He did this by single-handedly dividing the No vote into three:

    1. Vote No
    2. Abstain (stay at home)
    3. Invalidate (write ‘Viva Malta’)

    You can’t win a referendum that way, clearly. At the time I recall Alfred Sant was made fun of in EU-critical circle across Europe: is this guy serious, many asked?

    Yes, unfortunately he was trying to be.

    It has oft been calculated that had Sant allowed the Labour Party to campaign and mobilise for a No (which he did not, since only CNI and No2EU campaigned against the Government’s Yes campaign) the No side would have won hands down (that is why we had a 91% turnout and not 97% – not because voters were less interested in European elections. Indeed people who usually never vote because Maltese politics annoys them, went out to vote Yes that day).

    Alfred Sant himself abstained. He showed us all his voting document to prove it. Bravu tassew.

    So these diatribes of yours come out as significantly naive and/or deceitful in the face of reality. The fact that the MLP is affiliated with the most europhile, federalist and EU centralisationist group in the EU Parliament is evidence of this. The PES, for the uninformed, do not allow criticism of the totalitarian aspects of the EU. It is for this reason that the EU-critical Labour candidate Sharon Ellul Bonici has been barred from contesting with Labour by the notorious Bord tal-Vigilanza u Dixxiplina Maternali Supra-Stagjonali. (I hear her name is on the ballot papers, however – “Qed tara kif il-Labour ghadu ewroxettiku!” That’s Casa’s and Busuttil’s argument for you.)

    And by the way, when you and your party mention incoming EU funds without mentioning the outgoing amounts, including VAT, 25-40% own contributions and costly expenses to abide by EU rule, you are being unashamedly deceitful (or showing us how ill-informed you are). Also, all funded projects need to be approved by the EU first – projects for which we are paying, all included, well over the 60% mark.

  12. CATherine Desira says:

    Labour United??!!

    Sorry, but I beg to differ. If they are united, how come; prior to a broadcast on One TV – Joe Saliba had in his hands a copy of the One TV employees’ Collective Agreement and went on to reveal all about their overtime pay?

    If they are united – who kept informing Mr. Jeff. Pullicino Orlando of the whereabouts of Sant, so that he’ll be there before him?

    Me, or you? Definitely not – it is definetly someone from very closed circles.

    This is the problem – while Gonzi is loved by all his supporters and even those of the opposite side, Sant is despised even from those around him.

    I believe that a house divided cannot stand for long and for stability!

  13. Joseph Vela says:

    The Broadcasting authority should be scrapped immediately. It is just a waste of public money. It is unable to stand up to Dr Sant`s bullying tactics when he is still the Leader of the opposition, let alone when he becomes Prime Minister.

  14. Chris says:


    Just keep quite on items that you do not understand in – such as Eu funds.

    Projects under the structural funds i.e. 850 million or so, do not need the approval of the EU once the operational programmes are approved by both the Commission and the Maltese Parliament.Any project that fits in with the priorities, Maltese and EU and has the required output and result indicators, can be accepted by the Maltese Government. The EU is there only to see that all the rules and regulations are abided with.

  15. G. Camilleri says:

    Dr. Sant says he does not respect the will of the majority in a democratic referendum. He says he only acknowledges that of a general election. Does “Gvern Illegittimu” ring a bell? (1998……!!)

  16. Mr.A.Borg says:

    uejja veru DR. Sant kin messu wiegeb, imma niskanta kif aw daqsek li jemnu il Pullicino Orlando li ma kinx jaf bil permess li saret fuq art tijaw! Mil injuranza li ghandi trid kunses!
    Malta u il maltin qadt ma jikbru fil politika (mux kulhadd imma il maggoranza)! qisu min izomm ma taljani u min ma l-inglizi, F gih kemm em, F dis site qisna qedin f genna tal art, min jaf ala? ghal darba ajdu li kulhad jamel il hazin.

  17. John Schembri says:

    Sur A Borg , jien irrid nisma’ l-Jeffery f’Konfront ma’ Sant FIL-PUBBLIKU.
    Ir-raguni hi semplici , jekk jiena nakkuzak b’xi haga quddiem erba minn nies u wara int turini li m’ghndekx tort, jien irrid inkun ragel bizzejjed li nammetti li kelli zball fil-gudizzju tieghi QUDDIEM L-ISTESS ERBA MINN NIES. Le?
    Sant qala fil-pubbliku allura ikun gifa jekk jghid li jrid imur il-Qorti.Biex jaffrontah il-qorti messu hammgu fil-qorti mill-ewwel.Hekk titlob l-irgulija! Dik mhix paraventu?

  18. John Schembri says:

    By the way I have been upgraded to the post of PN strategist , and ……..goblin! I hear that the guy who honoured me with the ‘strategist” medal before his Waterloo , is shorter than me! Maybe I am ugly especially when I don’t shave.

  19. Robert says:

    Yesterday’s disruption to the BA Electoral Campaign broadcast (when Alfred Sant walked out) had one benefit for me as a voter. I could watch the BA press conference with Alfred Sant followed by Lawrence Gonzi in quick succession. The difference was stark.

    On the one hand we had the boring drone of Alfred Sant repeating the baseless allegations, sticking to his script religiously, ignoring the issues and the questions. On the other hand I witnessed Lawrence Gonzi answering every single question with credibility, constructively, acknowledging where there have been problems and showing how he will solve the problem and most importantly where he wants to take this country! One is cold and emotionless – the other is a real person – someone I can relate to.

    Maybe I am biased but there really is no contest – the contrast is so explicit and there for all to see.

    The future for my children is bright under Lawrence Gonzi. If you missed it do yourselves a favour, use the On Demand library on di-ve and watch BOTH leaders. Then make your judgement.

  20. Corinne Vella says:

    Robert: That’s not a biased view. Sant appeals to people who are inclined towards the Labour party. Gonzi appeals to people who are inclined to the Nationalist Party AND to the Labour Party.

  21. John Schembri says:

    Where I live, near the street hawker” Hemm il-karti , kollox kixef is-super one” , “imma inti taf taqra Cett ?” , “Le ,imma tas-super one kixfuh, rajnieh!” ……. enough said.

  22. John Schembri says:

    Daph , was there ANY person with a mobile or a camera who took a picture of Falzon & Polidano munching and crunching?
    What was the discussion about ,JPO or the Safi Supermarket?
    Did someone mention a mole?
    It would be interesting to know who paid the bill?
    If Charles paid ,then Michael broke the Zero Tolerance MLP law.

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