‘David Cameron might steal my policies’

Published: October 2, 2011 at 5:08pm

This is my column in The Malta Independent on Sunday, today.

Ed Miliband has been Labour Party leader and leader of the Opposition for just a year, and Britain is at least three years away from a general election.

But over the last few weeks he has come under increasingly heavy fire for his failure to devise any sort of policy or to explain exactly what Labour is for.

Political commentators are hard at work ripping him to shreds.

Even those who tentatively held out hope at first have given him a good hammering and made no secret of their disappointment.

‘Ed Miliband has no policies and seems proud of it’ was one title, and in the text was the gem ‘Ed Miliband hit the ground crawling.’

Meanwhile, back on the ranch in Malta, our own Dear Joseph has sat in Cuschieri’s seat as leader of the Opposition for three years, and has been party leader for some months longer than that.

We are around 18 months away from a general election. But have we sight or sound of a single policy initiative? No, we have not.

The story that the party faithful – perhaps that should be party gullible – are putting about is that Il-Guy and Dear Joseph have between them concocted the most amazing raft of policies, but because they are ‘wajs’ (in its Maltese meaning of ‘cunning’, rather than its English meaning of ‘wise’) they have taken inspiration from Edmond Blackadder.

They will not be revealing those policies lest that dreadful Lawrence Gonzi, who has no ideas of his own, steals them.

In other words, Il-Guy and Dear Joseph are hiding their policies from the electorate, and by definition also from the party faithful who must have faith in them, so as to hide them from The Enemy.

I am not quite sure whether this reasoning should generate contempt, laughter or pity, but I am more inclined to the last where the gullible are concerned and the first for the Labour leader, his Wajs Guy, and the band of Cunning Chaps who surround them.

Now please pause a moment and try very hard to imagine, as though your life depended on it, Ed Miliband telling reporters that yes, he has plenty of policies but he’s damned if he will reveal them to the electorate because that David Cameron and his sidekick Clegg might steal them.

You can’t, can you?

That’s because Britain, for all its considerable warts and myriad problems, is possibly the most highly developed democracy in the world.

Even a pink-velour-tracksuit-clad member of the underclass would probably understand what is horribly wrong with that reasoning. They know their rights.

Ed Miliband, who is being toasted alive already merely because he’s been there a year, the election is three years away and he hasn’t told electors what he plans to do, would be liberally doused in HP sauce and eaten for breakfast if he were to say anything of the kind.

And that would be the end of him. Imagine the newspaper headlines.

But here the credulous continue to support a man who insults them gravely – to say nothing of the way he insults democracy – by having the word spread that he is compelled to hide his policies from them so as to hide them from the prime minister.

Dear Joseph and Il-Guy – and those two stooges Anglu Farrugia and Toni Abela – have no idea of their responsibilities to the electorate but even less of an idea of the Constitutional duties of the Opposition.

The Opposition is not there primarily to work at becoming the government, but to keep the government in check and to, believe it or not, ensure that it governs better.

The Opposition, no less than the government, exists under the Constitution in service to the electorate. If it knows a way that something can be done better in government, it is obliged to say so – in the service not of the government, but of the governed.

To keep close to his chest for years until the election a policy that he knows to be better than the current one, when it would serve the country well if he were to recommend it and discuss it in parliament, is an abdication of the leader of the Opposition’s Constitutional and democratic duty.

The real reason that Dear Joseph and his Wajs Guy haven’t described their policies to us yet is, I suspect, that they haven’t devised any.

But that is not the only point at issue.

The other matter for serious concern is that they think hiding policies from the electorate until the 11th hour, when it is too late to subject them to debate, so as to hide them from their political rivals, is democratically acceptable.

They appear to believe that they are in business, where new research and development must be concealed from commercial rivals, and not in politics.

9 Comments Comment

  1. Jozef says:

    The worst off are those who genuinely believe in Labour, either due the level of education or an ingrained emotive sense of belonging.

    The latter may also be perpetuated by the former. When one listens to their views, the first thing that comes across is the degree of misinformation, the second is that when they’re alone, frank discussion stimulates their curiosity to understand beyond what the party dictates.

    Labour ignore the possibility that older people who show up for meetings and gatherings do so to maintain relations within a closely knit community the party has, on a local basis. This doesn’t mean they vote accordingly.

    They just don’t like being fooled and won’t say it. It happened with Alfred Sant, to block his anti EU stance, where these people chose their children’s future over the party.

    The difficulty to produce policies within Labour is far more serious than they think. The continuous editing and revising does nothing but prohibit constructive criticism from within, a process which follows a path up the hierarchy.

    The delegates kill any potential flow. The top brass keep harping about how cut off the higher end of the PN currently is, maybe they’d better start asking the same about themselves.

    When they call this blog, and others a haven for PN apologisti, they seem to miss the articles and commentary which weren’t exactly apologetic when it came to divorce and Malta’s difficulty with the neutrality clause during the Libyan uprising.

    The political situation in Malta has come to a point where Labour’s parliamentary absence has forced the present government to acknowledge a de facto proactive opposition.

  2. Anonymous Coward says:

    It’s strange how some of the “gullible” are really quite educated.

    I was discussing this very issue with a Labour-voting friend – a lawyer, and an otherwise very smart person – recently and he said, essentially, that “Joseph has a PhD in economics and therefore clearly knows what he’s doing.”

    [Daphne – He doesn’t have even a first degree in economics, let alone a doctorate.]

    Well, it turns out that, despite my PhD in physics, whenever I want to publish any new research, it must still be thoroughly reviewed by a number of my peers before it is allowed through — my degree and my reputation are completely irrelevant to the process. His answer was a blank expression.

    If a very highly educated member of society has issues coming to terms with these arguments, what chance does Grace tal-kantuniera (with all due respect to anyone called Grace and/or who lives on a corner) have?

  3. Antoine Vella says:

    The PL does not understand (or pretends not to understand) that when people insist on concrete proposals, they are not referring only to the party’s intentions after the next elections but to what the Opposition thinks should be done now, to deal with situations that cannot be put off.

    The Greek bail-out, for example, or the hospitalisation of Libyan war casualties or even the spring-hunting controversy if we want to be really parochial.

    These are all issues which cannot wait until the elections but about which the PL has been silent.

  4. WhoamI? says:

    one crucial difference – Ed Miliband doesn’t have a Maltastar luckily. Maltastar hasn’t been updated since 30 September 2011 11:44, and it is now 02 October 2011 23:53:25. Raqad Beddingfield jew? Mela ma semghax li ghola il-pitlor jew?

  5. Hibernating from Malta says:

    He shouldn’t had been elected as leader in the first place. It was only the support of the trade unions (he spoke against as soon as he was elected) which put him in power.

  6. Jozef says:

    An example of policy.


    ‘Kieku Jien hekk naghmel’

  7. Tonio Mallia says:

    There was another ex MLP leader who did the same thing: no policies, many promises, and then a disaster after two years in government. This clown is his number-one student, so why are we surprised that he’s doing the same?

  8. silvio farrugia says:

    Daphne, my nephew waited 45 minutes for the ‘new’ bus 210 to University.

    It was advertised as every 20 minutes from Birzebbuga.

    When I wrote to you that Mr Austin Gatt would have been ‘booted’ out in other really democratic countries you did not agree.

    Yes after the past fiasco and the still on-going fiasco of Arriva in other ‘real’ western countries he would have resigned.

    Here it still like a third world country were comfort for the citizens is concerned ..sightseeing tours, waiting in the sun for donkeys etc

  9. silvio farrugia says:

    To Labour, all is ‘lussu’ – the bridge in Grand Harbour is ‘lussu’, plants and flowers on the road sides are ‘lussu’.

    Do they want greyness, mediocrity, hobz bit-tonn taz-zejt, all wearing the same underpants and clothes so as not to have ‘lussu’ u ksuhat?

    I speak when I see something wrong no matter in which political party, but I assure you we will be forever much better off with a Nationalist government than Labour.

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