Simon Busuttil falls at the first hurdle. Sorry, make that the second, because he doesn’t know what to do about Dalli either

Published: July 9, 2013 at 4:38pm

For crying out loud, Simon, get a grip.

For crying out loud, Simon, get a grip.

Simon Busuttil was a fabulous MEP, but so far, he is really not shaping up as a natural-born leader. As an MEP your job is to be factual and dispassionate. As a leader, you need passion and conviction, because without them you can’t motivate people.

Put simply, you can’t lead with the outlook, attitude and comportment of an accountant or lawyer. Leadership is about MORAL pronouncements, about reminding people where their priorities should lie, about giving a human dimension to the nuts and bolts of bald issues.

But first, you have to be able torecognise those issues. A political leader must have a nose for issues in the same way that journalists must have a nose for a story.

Busuttil handed the security services issue to the prime minister on a plate. He spoke too coldly about it, too clinically. He did not speak at all in a manner to which people can relate: the dangers of having a minister with a (former) client base of criminals knowing exactly who the members of the secret service are and what they are doing.

And worse than that, he then held a meeting with the prime minister and came out and told us that everything is going to be fine, because he had the prime minister’s reassurances that it would be. Oh really? Unbelievable.

And now there’s the Dalli scandal. It has emerged that Dalli is embroiled, whether for philanthropic ends or business, with a major fraudster who uses false passports and various aliases.

The Opposition leader should be hounding the prime minister about this, and about his decision to appoint and retain Dalli. Instead, we have silence. And you know what? The silence sounds like a compromised one. I was shocked, really horrified, when I learned, through an interview that Dalli gave, how Chris Said, now PN secretary-general, was one of those who rang him “biex jifrahlu” when the new Police Commissioner announced that there was no case against him.

For God’s sake. I mean really, for crying out loud.

And now we have Busuttil’s latest bit of absolutely hopeless moral and political leadership. ‘Ridiculously inadequate’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Faced with public outrage at the push-back of immigrants who will be flown out by Air Malta at midnight and 4am tonight, he says, clinically, that “this is a very worrying situation” and he “expects the prime minister to honour all international obligations”.

That’s just a part of it, Simon – what about his moral obligations towards the people involved?

I quote Times of Malta:

Asked about an article he had written in 2010 about sending migrants back, Dr Busuttil said he was now opposed to push back because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

Again, unbelievable. He opposes push-back not because of the reasons the ECHR ruled against it (inhumane, exposing people to torture, mass deportation, violations), but because the ECHR ruled against it.

This is like saying that you are opposed to murder because it is illegal.

What Busuttil should have said is that he was wrong to support push-back, that he regrets that stance and now understands the full horror of the implications for the individuals involved. And the fact that the ECHR ruled against it only serves to convince him further that it is immoral, only now we also know that it really is a violation of human rights.

Simon Busuttil should be right out there calling a press conference and slamming the government and Muscat to hell for their behaviour. He should be calling them immoral, racist, violators of human rights.

Instead, what we have is a cold-fish approach by somebody who doesn’t understand the media and mass political communication at all. If he doesn’t shape up fast, he has created a vacancy already. Quite frankly, we barely even know he’s there.

53 Comments Comment

  1. Maria says:

    Hon Busuttil for God’s sake wake up.We had only one true born leader and that was the Hon Lawrence Gonzi.

  2. Neil says:

    I hoped, when I read it, that it was just a case of brevity, poor reporting by the Times.

  3. Chris Portelli says:

    What’s happening at this moment is outrageous.

  4. Michelle Pirotta says:

    Vera nhossni mixful, Daphne.

    Forsi nghixu f’dinjiet differenti, izda nassigurak li nitkellem ma’ hafna nies, f’kuntesti socjali differenti, nahdem ma’ diversi istituzzjonijiet u kumpaniji fejn nithallat ma’ nies professjonisti, izda naghmel attivitajiet socjali ma’ nies aktar ‘hemm isfel’ – b’ebda dizrispett. B’dispjacir nghid – nghidlek li Joseph Muscat ghandu 90% approval rate fuq dil-haga.

    Issa hawn mhux qed nghidu ligijiet, umanita’, rispett, tolleranza ecc.

    Qed nahseb li b’din id-decizjoni Joseph sahhah sew il-pozizzjoni tieghu.

    Emmini li huwa kontra qalbi li nghid dan.

  5. Alexander Ball says:

    My view is that he’s shell-shocked by the length and breadth of corruption, both moral and political, on the island.

    Yes, it’s a fucking cesspit, Simon, and if you ain’t got the gonads to sort it out then f*ck off now.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

    PS Simon, you get absolutely nowhere being reasonable with shite.

  6. Liberal says:

    Makes you want to emigrate. What a nation of amateurs.

  7. ciccio says:

    Who is going to protect our human rights against these tyrants in government?

    I am not emigrating. I am staying here on this blog.

  8. aston says:

    You are so right about this. I was going to send in a post pointing out that if Joseph Muscat does not have the bye from the Libyans to fly the immigrants back, Air Malta is likely to have at least one of its planes impounded tonight.

    But then I realised that in the scheme of things, that is totally irrelevant. It is not about the planes, it is not about the illegality and not about the politics. It is about the inhumanity, indecency, egoism and sheer bloody-mindedness of sending these people back to a country they were ready to seriously endanger their lives to leave.

  9. Lord Lucan says:

    Wrong man for the job!

    When he won the party leadership there was a huge party at Mile End. I know from direct conversations with Labour MPs about this. It should have been De Marco and now we are all going to suffer even more since with this guy leading the opposition there is effectively, no opposition, and effectively Malta is a one party state until Busuttil is replaced.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Do you think De Marco would have acted any different on the Dalli and the push-back issue? He strike me as too chummy with the Old Guard at the PN.

      The truth is there is no suitable leader for the PN. If it were to disband, we wouldn’t even notice.

  10. WhoamI? says:

    Your analysis of Simon Busuttil is on the money.

    I really hope he reads this blog.

    As to your last sentence – this is 100% spot on. Simon who?

  11. Peter Mallia says:

    Thank you, Daphne. Nobody could have said it better. What a disappointment. What a horror show Malta is going to become.

    Seeing Simon looking at the Prime Minister on the steps of Castille, like a little kid happy next to the Headmaster and saying that we should not worry as Manuel Mallia knows what he’s doing, almost made me want to throw up.

    What a mistake electing him as leader.

  12. marks says:

    Hear Hear. Wake up Simon.

  13. Jo says:

    Please Simon, do not prove that those who voted you in as PN Leader should not be proved wrong.

    I agree with Daphne one hundred per cent. The time to stand up to Joseph is here. We’ll be ready to follow. Do not let us down.

  14. FP says:

    Spot on, Daphne. If it doesn’t come natural to him, he needs to make space. He’s been a disappointment so far.

  15. Wenzu Cole says:

    It also implies that in reality he agrees with push-backs but doesn’t say it out loud.

  16. joseph says:

    You’ve just turned my denial into reality. You made me realize that I was right about the Leader of Opposition. Why do you always have to be spot on with what I’m thinkin’!

  17. Esteve says:

    It is actually the moment for anyone who is against push-back policy to speak out loudly and clearly.

    And I mean everyone – even MPs. Most especially MPs. Of all colours and stripes. I am sure many of them have their hearts in the right place and know where their priorities should lie on the human scale of things.

    This is the time to use that blessed spine they say they have and stand up to be counted.

    To stand back passively is to co-operate and support a criminal and immoral act. It will be useless later to cry out “mea culpa” and say “I didn’t know! I didn’t realise!”.

  18. Esteve says:

    I admire Simon, however I don’t think he is the right person for the job. Either that or the PN has far deeper problems than anyone realises.
    Or both of the above.

  19. Martin schranz says:

    Simon Busuttil slipped up in 2010 when defending the Eiritrean deaths, and now slips up again.

    Beppe Fenech Adami is the only suitable candidate for opposition leader, since he has a instinctive feeling of what is right and what is wrong. No pussy-footing with Beppe.

  20. delacroixet says:

    Isn’t the PN stuffed to the brim with lawyers?

    Can’t someone sensible open an urgent legal procedure in front of a magistrate to stay the expulsion of these soon-to-be-victims?

    We’re about to become a pariah in the EU, and everyone at the Stamperija is fast asleep, come on – wake up!

  21. Wot the Hack says:

    Simon, listen to Daphne.

    Call an urgent session of Parliament, and ask for a discussion of the situation before action is taken by government. Win more time.

    Make them sweat in Parliament, as they try to explain that they are liberal and progressive. Get Manwel Mallia to show how progressive he is in between getting the police force to serve the European Broadcasting Union and other gaffes.

    In the meanwhile, inform the international organisations of human rights about the situation in Malta.

    Shouldn’t Muscat be waiting until he meets Mr. Van Rompuy on Thursday?

    Make the link between the attempt to divert attention away from the John Dalli scandal with the populist measures on immigrants.

    Inspire other organisations to issue condemnations. Create ‘a movement’ about these human rights violations.

    Attack the far right, hate, policies of Norman Lowell.

  22. G Borg says:

    Very, very well said.

    Very right about the migrants’ issue and the Dalli case and – thinking about it – about quite a number of other cases too.

    For my liking, the PN has already voted and seconded Joseph Muscat on too many occasions in Parliament.

    Stand up to be counted please. We are not interested in a PN that just sees how to garner as many votes as possible. That was already done, and we saw results. Principles should remain principles. We do not want a Berlusconi type of party.

    Demarco was no solution for me, but neither is quasi-vacuum. Please do not leave us without a party to vote.

  23. Sapiens says:

    Unfortunately we are a nation who celebrates mediocrity. As a nation, we are not driven, we have no passion, we make do with what we have.

    Now this Jospeh is trying to show that he’s a man of stature, a statesman … a hero! Alas he’s not … he’s an artifical, power hungry, opportunistic, arrogant politician at best. Unfortunately for us, we have to suffer the embarassment of calling him our Prime Minister.

  24. Carlos Bonavia says:

    Simon is simply more dead than dead. He is inadequate as a PN leader – can anyone imagine him at a mass rally, with his polite, nasal, soft lilt to politically-correct verses prepared for him by another cadaver?

    The Nationalist Party needed a woman. Ann Fenech unfortunately thought not to get embroiled and whatever happened to Joanna Drake?

    A woman with balls, mein herren, to show this idiot in Castille that being just populist will NEVER be the be-all in politics.

    [Daphne – Joanna Drake is well settled in Brussels.]

  25. jack says:

    Simon Busuttil’s problem is a simple one. He should appeal to the logical man – the one who appreciates clean, rational thought. That’s why he thrived in the European Parliament.

    Unfortunately, the electorate is composed of an endless sea of irrational masses (how else would you explain PL’s landslide win?).

    So not only is Simon Busuttil failing to ignite the masses, but he is losing his appeal vis-à-vis those blessed with a three digit IQ.

  26. Osservatore says:

    Emotional? Passionate? The man hardly ever blinks when he speaks let alone show emotion or passion.

    Simon Busuttil has been a massive let down so far and I do not see things getting better. We’re in for a very long wait till the PN are back in power and mediocrity becomes an acceptable option.

    My money is still on Mario De Marco as the only viable leader.

  27. bob-a-job says:

    Simon Busuttil should be out there leading the NGOs in their protest not being led by them.

    This is actually Simon’s baptism of fire. This is his chance to prove himself like Eddie had to do in his early days.

    If Simon wins admiration of the people at this stage we’re on the right track; if he fails then it’s going to be an uphill struggle not to lose more votes.

    Admittedly this is not a role he’s been accustomed to but on the other hand this is the role he bid for and won.
    A leader is not made. A leader is born. I still have hopes but I will not have them forever.

  28. bob-a-job says:

    ‘Chris Said, now PN secretary-general, was one of those who rang him “biex jifrahlu” when the new Police Commissioner announced that there was no case against him.’

    Why the surprise?

    [Daphne – Not at the morality of it, Bob, but that anyone could be so stupid in making such a strategic/diplomatic error.]

  29. Ghoxrin Punt says:

    Spot on Daphne, as always. Simon has been more intent on telling us how much he agrees with this current government vis a vis the laws he agrees with, then how much he disagrees with this government on the policies we have seen to date. I think whoever is advising him wants another leader.

  30. Gahan says:

    I expect Simon to be present in front of the Police Depot together with my daughter.

    He’s always present where there are crowds celebrating some feast and should be there when the crowd is on the good side of history and high moral ground.

    Lead, follow or get out of the way.

  31. Alex says:

    For God”s sake, bring back Dr. Gonzi.

  32. jimmy says:

    Spot on! That’s what the surveys are saying too.

    Busuttil is not in the same league as Muscat. The latter speaks and acts coherently to the ‘ignorant masses’ (quoting Plato). Simon, unfortunately, lacks the needed charisma to get through to that section of the electorate which voted Muscat into power.

    [Daphne – Why do you measure him against Muscat? That’s a very low standard. Appallingly low. And all wrong, too.]

    These include those who are afraid, through miseducation, of the ‘other’.

    What’s more worrying is that Muscat is more dangerous than Mintoff. Mintoff had strong political adversaries in the British authorities, Mons Gonzi and, later, Eddie Fenech Adami. These limited Mintoff’s power. Who’s limiting Muscat’s power? Busuttil? The European Union?

  33. josef2 says:

    Simon wouldn’t last to contest the next election as PN leader.

  34. michael seychell says:

    I hate to say it, but I have to agree with what Daphne has said here.

    Had Simon been in any other position he would be an excellent man, but until now, more so on this case, he is being considered as a weak leader.

    I urge Simon and also the P.N. executive to stand up and be counted on this matter.

  35. M... says:

    Maybe Simon is just giving the prime Minister enough rope to hang himself.

    [Daphne – Oh indeed, a very cynical move at the expense of human life. ‘Let’s sacrifice 102 people so that the prime minister can hang himself.’ I don’t think so.]

  36. Neil says:

    In parliament, Dr. Busuttil walks the walk and talks the talk. In debate with his opposing counterparts he generally comes out on top.

    But in the all important public eye, he comes across as a damp squib. This will be his downfall, electorally speaking.

  37. If you want passion buy yourself he holiday edition of Women’s Weekly – with extra sizzling stories of dark strangers and lonely beaches or is it the other way round? You make a sane person despair, honestly.

    [Daphne – I forget that you sometimes struggle with the nuances of the language, Reuben. Passion does not mean Barbara Cartland, or necessarily romance. One can have, for example, a passionate interest in gardening, or a passionate conviction that Reuben Scicluna’s religious fixations blind him to sensible reasoning. Why do people remember Eddie Fenech Adami’s public speeches? Because he spoke with passion. So did Mintoff – the wrong sort, though. Negative passion, not positive. A political leader who can’t speak with passionate conviction is a dead duck. And I don’t have to cite Alfred Sant as an example.

    Also, our definitions of ‘sane’ differ. I have serious trouble taking as fact the things you take as fact by virtue of your religious convictions.]

    • Passion is for people who can’t think. for people who’ve got to be goaded into action … perhaps even into thinking.

      [Daphne – No, Reuben, again you misunderstand the nuances of English (and the realities of logic). Passion and rational thought are not mutually exclusive. When people lack feeling, it’s because they lack feeling, and not because they are rational.]

    • bob-a-job says:

      ‘One can have, for example, a passionate interest in gardening,’

      In which case one would go for a Hoe.

      For those ignorant of gardening matters

  38. Joan Spiteri says:

    Daphne, I have been waiting for your thoughts about Simon for quite some time now. Finally you said it and I cannot agree with you more.

    Simon was a good MEP but I never thought of him as a leader.

    I don’t even like the way he talks. He sounds like somebody preaching from an altar.

  39. babu says:

    I understand your thoughts about Simon. However for fairness sake be informed that he has just finished a very good speech in parliament on the push back dear Joseph is at the moment contemplating.

  40. Volley says:

    Did Simon Busuttil speak in Parliament on this issue this evening? I’m listening to Mario Demarco right now debating on the matter.

  41. Steve says:

    Your first rational post Daphne.. Well done.

    [Daphne – My posts are always rational, Steve. That’s why lots of people don’t like them, and also why lots of others do. Women are supposed to be emotional, remember? Otherwise they are ‘like men’ and must be burnt at the stake. And in any case, we are living in Malta, where even lots of the men tend to be completely irrational. I see you are one of them – irrational and illogical. This is your illogical reasoning: ‘I like it and agree with it, therefore it must be rational.’]

  42. Joan Spiteri says:


    I have been waiting for a good speech from Simon. Thought I would never hear it.

    At least I was proved wrong.

  43. gorg says:

    The opposition is well and truly asleep. It’s still reeling and licking its wounds after 4 months.

    Government on the other hand is totally clueless on what to do and is taking the wrong decisions (or not deciding at all), under the illusion that it has the mandate to steam roll.

  44. ken il malti says:

    Sorry, but I cannot see the PN winning an election with Simon as PN leader.

  45. Gonzi says:

    Amongst Gonzi’s many faults was that he sought to run the country based on his personal religious beliefs mixing up politics with religion. In doing so he held Malta back from evolving into a more sophisticated, modern country.

    He rose to the occasion on the issue of the defecting Libyan pilots. However, in so far as leadership qualities go I think Eddie Fenech Adami remains unrivalled. I commented before the elections that Simon is not leadership material.

    There is no rational explanation why the PN is keeping mum about the Dalli matter and has even gone as far as admitting it had offered Dalli a position, when so much has been revealed on this blog.

    The PL has made some good moves with regard to civil liberties and animal rights, rightly responding to the people’s wishes. However, I am increasingly getting the feeling that it wants to pull Malta out of Europe and that we’re seeing a return of Mintoffian politics.

    The stance on the illegal immigration issue reminds me of the botched up job done way back with the Egypt air hijacking. I am also fed up of hearing about the national interest and rhetoric against foreign interference. Labour has not changed its policies. It is following in Mintoff’s footsteps.

    The latest wave of immigrants could have been handled better by increasing the resources of the Refugee Commissioner to ensure that asylum applications are speedily processed. I am sure that the majority wouldn’t have qualified for asylum. Expenses could be spared if asylum applications were dealt with in a timely manner and those not qualifying for refugee status repatriated.

    However, I suspect the intention is to incite anti-EU sentiment by appealing to populist sentiment and that this was nothing but a step in the direction of withdrawing Malta from the EU. It is the same tactic used in the election campaign to forment discontent amongst the people to topple the PN. Only this time it the target is the EU. Labour has not changed its policies. It has merely become marketing savvy.

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