Now it’s a matter of joining forces to oust the corrupt and the deceitful

Published: April 11, 2017 at 2:15pm

When Marlene Farrugia left the Labour Party – not out of personal pique or ambition but because she is as horrified and disgusted as very many of us are – she set up a fledging political party.

I wrote at the time that this was the worst thing she could possibly do, worse even that stepping out of politics altogether and leaving the Labour Party to it, because this would split the vote of those who are opposed to Muscat and his outfit and Muscat and his outfit would be re-elected by default.

To win the general election, the Labour Party does not need to get more votes than the Nationalist Party and the small parties put together. All it needs is to get more votes than the Nationalist Party. It is the single party which gets the most votes that wins, because political parties cannot band together after the result is out and say “Hey, but we’re getting together and we have more votes than you do.”

Nor can political parties get together before a general election with two separate parties saying “We’re a coalition.” The law does not permit that. Different political parties are different political parties.

I wrote that anybody who is opposed to the corruption and sleaze which have devastated standards in public life and compromised all institutions has but one choice if they wish to do the decent thing and what is best for Malta: throw their weight behind Simon Busuttil and the Nationalist Party. This is not a matter of political partisanship. At this stage in a very dangerous game, it is a matter of common sense.

Things have deteriorated so badly in just four years that we can’t even hope to imagine the destruction and theft of the next five as, with no plans to seek re-election after that, Muscat and his crooks will go at it full tilt.

Marlene Farrugia has since understood that by campaigning for a separate party she will get the opposite result of the one she wants for Malta. She began speaking to the Nationalist Party and they seem about to reach some kind of agreement. That is wholly a good thing, and not a bad one, and I can’t understand why some people around the Nationalist Party, egged on by Labour and its fellow-travellers, are grumbling about it.

If they honestly preferred to have Marlene Farrugia campaign separately for her own small party, it’s because they are putting their own personal preferences before the strategic need to have as many people as possible band together to remove a real and present danger.

Those who cannot see the strategic wisdom in this should observe the manner in which the Office of the Prime Minister, through its website fronted by one of its persons of trust, Glenn Bedingfield, has spent the last few days ripping into Dr Farrugia and into Simon Busuttil for being in talks with her. When they make somebody or something a target, it’s because they’re worried and want to undermine that somebody or something.

The Prime Minister’s decision to have his communications officer lay into Dr Farrugia publicly and nastily is all the more significant because she is as good as married to his party whip. It is the equivalent of the Prime Minister’s Office attacking Mrs George Vella or Mrs Edward Scicluna or Louis Grech’s companion all over the internet, should any one of them decide to do what Dr Farrugia is doing.

It’s easy to forget that, because Godfrey Farrugia maintains such a low profile, and also because Marlene Farrugia (the surname is her own maiden name, coincidentally) has such a strong and separate persona.

Whatever our personal feelings are, our private animosities or our dislike or this one or that one, our grudges and our real or perceived wounds, now is the time to set all that aside and pull the same rope, bearing in mind that we have a duty and an obligation to root out the corrupt and the scandalous and work together to remove the danger.

This duty and obligation is even more incumbent on those who helped put Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri into power. Admitting to mistaken judgement is not sufficient when that mistaken judgement has had terrible consequences. In that situation it becomes even more important – for one’s self-respect if nothing else – to work to right the wrong that one has wrought.

Whether you agree with her or not, approve of her or not, like her or dislike her, approve of her over-use of emoticons or shudder at it (enough with the emoticons, Marlene, please; we’re in our 50s and in public life), it has got to be obvious that this is exactly what Dr Farrugia is doing. She has even said so explicitly: that she is driven primarily by the need to rid Malta of the corrupt and dangerous people who now run it, and by her desire to expiate her burdensome guilt at having helped put them there.