GUEST POST/How Labour could have won my vote (but chose not to)

Published: July 3, 2015 at 10:28pm

joseph muscat

By H. P. Baxxter

I have been posting comments on this blog for what seems like an eternity. And I am rather amused by the way I’ve been pigeonholed.

Labour supporters and switchers have me down as a Nazzjonalist jinten, or worse, Nazzjonalist min guf ommi. Some of them even think I am Daphne herself. It’s all right. It could be worse.

Nazzjonalisti, on the other hand, have me down as a detractor. They get very touchy whenever I mention the Nationalist Party’s faults, in or out of government. It seems to offend some deep-seated idea of loyalty. One doesn’t just vote for a party. One must love it. Whatever. I’m too old now to make new friends, or to stop the tide of new enemies. When my time comes, I’ve no doubt I’ll surpass Mintoff for micturating queues (has anyone got round to it yet?).

But this is all so silly, really.

In our system, one only votes for one party. Anything more than one Number One invalidates the vote.

I have been very clear about my voting choices. It’s on the record.

I do not, and have never, equated both parties. If I did, I would vote against both. But I haven’t, have I? And the reason I chose to vote for the Nationalist Party over Labour is that I made a rational choice that was translated into a pencil mark in that polling booth.

A lot of Maltese think that rational choice is some weird thing. Honest men and women, Maltin hawtiela, are driven by emotion, loyalty, support for team/village/parish, attachment, and, God help us, family tradition.

Oh no, I hear the Liberal Progressives cry. We welcome rational voters. Remember the teenage switcher and her “Det”?

Of course I do. Then why do Labour refuse to accept that some people can vote PN not through emotion or love or family tradition, but through rational choice?

Labour might have won my vote. Instead they chose to spit in my face, and thus ensured that I would always vote against them. Poor fools.

Let me explain how it came about.

I never had any “family tradition” to determine political allegiance. My childhood coincided with the Golden Years. One of my earliest memories is a warning from my dear mother never to open any envelopes that came through the letter box.

At school I was of course bullied (should be clear by now, at least to my regular readers). One day I was dragged behind the lavatory block by the school roughs (who no doubt are now millionaire kuntratturi) and interrogated on my family’s political allegiance.

I was scared shitless, because I genuinely didn’t know.

That evening, I asked my parents point blank. They replied that the vote is secret.

That was me f*cked for life.

In 1996, on the Monday following the election, my parents made it a point of honour to send me to school as usual. Why should I miss school because of an entirely normal election in an entirely normal democratic country? I thought it was cool to be breaking the rules by following them.

So I arrived at the school gate and immediately felt a bit of a tit. I was the only one who had turned up. Along with three teachers, one of whom was a crow who had only been a month on the job.

I knew that Labour had won, and I knew what their plans were. Alfred Sant had been telling the nation what he would do. He would remove VAT (and replace it by something better), and negotiate a better EU accession package. As far as I was concerned it was fine by me. Different party in government, same result. Right?

Wrong. The first thing Alfred Sant did was to stop the EU accession process.

And that was the first big decision point.

I wanted to join the EU. Even as a child I was aware that Malta was only hanging on to the Western world by a fingernail. We might as well have been North African.

EU membership, as I saw it, wasn’t about common markets or political institutions, but about something far, far deeper. I was about cultural identity. It was a choice between civilisations.

I wanted Malta to join the EU so it could affirm its Europeanness.

When in 1996 Labour declared itself against the EU, I couldn’t be neutral. It was personal. I had to vote against Labour.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Party declared that it would re-start Malta’s accession process if it was ever elected.

I suppose Joseph Muscat should be grateful that I voted for the Nationalist Party ever since Alferd Sant. Malta got into the EU thanks to me, and he became MEP thanks to me, and he became Labour leader thanks to the amazing platform provided by the European Parliament, and that’s how he won the election and became Prime Minister.

Thanks to me.

In 1998 I was relieved that the Nationalist Party won the election. Again, not out of family tradition or love or flag-waving, but because Fenech Adami kept his word and re-started the EU accession process.


Then I spent five of the most miserable years of my miserable life, worrying about whether I would ever join the EU. All thanks to Labour, which was adamant in its opposition to membership.

They might have won the 2003 election, and could have had my vote too, had they been in favour. But they chose to spit in my face again.

So I voted Yes, and a month later, voted PN.

EU membership opened the EU’s coffers. Suddenly the country was knee-deep in EU money. I never got any of it. It all went to the usual bunch of bazuzli.

What could I do? Could I vote Labour in 2008?

I couldn’t. Party leader Alfred Sant was still against EU membership. I couldn’t risk having him as prime minister. He would have taken us out of the EU.

To make matters worse I was slandered by a Labour paper. Me. An unknown nobody. They had probably gone through the database and noticed a lack of torca-waving, so they had concluded I was a Nazzjonalist jinten.

So I voted PN again. What else could I do? I had to keep Labour out of power. A lot of my friends had stopped caring about these things after 2003. One of them, a PN blue-eyed boy if ever there was one, voted AD. Another one voted for Norman Lowell.

The Nationalist Party won by a whisker.

Instead of making sure the wishes of his electors were respected, Lawrence Gonzi spent the next five years appeasing Labour voters, and PN rebels (which equates to Labour voters).

There was bugger all I could to about it. I was neither a “high-value individual”, nor one of the PN’s beloved kazijiet socjali.

By 2013 it was obvious that Labour would triumph at the polls. I think I predicted a Labour majority of 20,000 on this blog. I was 16,000 votes short.

In the polling booth, I was offered a choice between Lawrence Gonzi, an ineffectual leader, and Joseph Muscat, the man who had led the anti-EU campaign. I also knew, unlike the rest of Malta, it seems, that Labour planned a strategic partnership with a stirng of dictatorships including China, that it was involved with Shiv Nair, that it planned a massive building spree, that it was dead set against the interconnector cable, and that “Taghna Lkoll” really meant “F*ck you it’s our turn now”.

I knew my personal condition wouldn’t be improved in any way. It hadn’t changed since 2003.

But it wouldn’t be improved under Labour either. I was never in anyone’s inner circle, and Labour had me down as their enemy.

So I voted, once again, to keep them out of power.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I keep meeting all these people who claim to be so angry now, and so disappointed, and what about the ODZs, and the boathouses, and the corruption, and dear me how could Labour do this?

Well, don’t say I didn’t tell you.

It doesn’t take a genius to have figured out exactly how things would turn out. It only takes a rational mind.

So you see, Labour might have had my vote. There was nothing pre-determined in my voting choices.

Time and again, they chose to spit in my face. I may be a puny little pushover, but I try to avoid masochism.

Now I’ve another reason to vote against Labour in 2018. I’ve seen what they did to Malta.

So there it is. Let’s have no more finger-wagging and accusations of ‘Plague on both your Houses’ and putting MLPN words into my mouth.

One last thing. Lately, I have noticed another difference between the parties. Since I took to Twitter I have been blocked by everyone in the Labour Cabinet or party, by anyone connected to Labour or anyone who is even remotely Taghna Lkoll, including the official CHOGM 2015 account, and junior reporters at Malta Today.

I’ve been blunt in my criticism of some pretty major PN officials. Not one of them has blocked me.

Now one may argue that this is to be expected, since they are in opposition and the other lot are in government.

Perhaps. Or perhaps Labour would rather have my hostility than my vote. How foolish.