“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”
Of course, President Clinton lied when he denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky. To some, the lie was “excusable because he should never have been asked the question in the first place”. To others, it was a clear, impeachable offence because the President had perjured himself. President George H.W. Bush, Clinton’s predecessor, won the 1988 presidential elections on the infamous sound bite: “Read my lips, no new taxes”. Some excuse his false statement by claiming that at the time he truly hoped to be able to avoid taxes. Most however believe he knowingly lied to win the election. And the most famous American presidential prevaricator was of course the brilliant Richard Nixon who told any number of lies just to cover up his role and knowledge of the Watergate burglary. No one excuses Nixon’s lies. At a pleasant dinner with friends over the weekend, the conversation inevitably turned to why politicians lie. In the light of recent events, this is a discussion that has gripped general interest throughout Malta.
These weeks’ denials and damned political lies
Let’s not beat about the bush. It has become clear that our Prime Minister did not obfuscate or spin when he repeatedly and voluntarily gave his solemn word that a power plant would be built within two years or resign. And he certainly was not ambiguous. He lied – he did not keep his word. It was reckless of the Prime Minister for making such a promise and staking his political career on a lie that was sure to be discovered. We all said so then, before the general election and we still say so today. It’s discussed everywhere you go, from the petrol station to, yes even dinner with friends. But it’s the Prime Minister’s downright audacity to deny that such a promise was made in the first place (when the evidence is there for all to see on YouTube!) that has truly secured the voters’ utter disgust and mistrust of the present political system. That we have serious consequences ahead of us regarding energy in Malta is still to be absorbed but the “lies upon The Lie” has captured the true feeling of ‘how bad things really are’. Two weeks ago today, during the TV programme Bejnietna on F-Living, I told Sandro Craus, one of the Prime Minister’s closest advisers that the Progressive Liberals (PL) were in a deep hole and they needed to stop digging. My advice was “to go to parliamentary debate tomorrow and just tell the people the truth”. Of course, and totally to be expected, we all know they did not. What ensued was the totally expected and usual mud-slinging and shameless finger-pointing that marred the debate in Parliament the next day (and not only from the government’s side). The government’s intention clearly was to confuse the real issue and make it all fade away. They seem to think that all this will be forgotten quite soon. How childish. How petty minded. How damaging. How wrong. But the debate did however confirm what we already suspected: that there are no contracts, no final dates, and no realistic solution. We are still in debt and no real solution to solve it. Shifting assets and ‘imaginative bookkeeping’ does not persuade anyone that we have a solution. Neither does the ‘spin’ that we do have the investment, everything is on schedule, possible delays of ‘a few months and so forth. It’s all utter rubbish. This week we might have seen the start of yet another scandalous government lie exposed. No doubt whatsoever that this one, too, will come back to haunt us and it is not just the PL that will suffer the consequence. In brief, last Sunday night, our Prime Minister was advised that one of the Libyan Prime Minister (there were three at the last count) and half of his Cabinet was coming to Malta and that he “was to stand by to meet them” within… a few hours! During the next few days, the list of contradictory statements coming out of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) was astounding. They just did not add up. Official visits are not arranged within a few hours. Neither do you deal with a ‘government’ that is not in control of its country. Not one that is currently just one of a threesided civil war, which has lost control of its Parliament, its ministerial offices and power, and is now living/operating from a boat in Tobruk. In the middle of a war that is getting out of control, that type of ‘government’ does not come to Malta to discuss matters of education, business or whatever. The visit, it was claimed by our government, was to discuss peace in Libya, while Prime Minister al-Thinni promptly blurted out that the world should give him more arms to fight with! The EU was not informed, neither (it was most strangely claimed by the OPM) was the US. (Why should the US be informed in the first place?) Yet most curiously and coincidentally, the next day this Libyan government had a ‘highly interesting conversation’, or words to that effect as tweeted by the US ambassador to Libya herself who happened to be in Malta. Right after that conversation, by total coincidence once more, al-Thinni, still in Malta, gave orders for his troops to advance on Tripoli. So much for talking peace, official visits and coincidental meetings. This “behaviour” is very, very wrong and most dangerous for Malta, Prime Minister. But this was not enough. The media reported that Minister Manuel Mallia categorically denied that the Maltese government had signed any contracts with the Libyan government. Almost on cue, the Libyans went on public record claiming that none other than Manuel Mallia himself had actually signed agreements with the Libyan government on behalf of the Malta. And behold, this Libyan government now has a radio station transmitting from Malta. A great soft target for anyone to use as the perfect excuse to cause us damage, all with the full blessing and knowledge of our Prime Minister. Nice one. We normally expect to be able to trust representatives of our government. But with all this continual ‘misinformation’ and skulduggery, we seem to have done away with democracy and when there are those who clearly see themselves above the law, do we honestly trust any of them anymore? Can we afford to trust blindly? If you can’t trust your own government to be honest and speak the truth to you, who on earth can you trust with our and our children’s future? Tonight, (same programme, channel and time), I shall tell the Progressive Liberals in no uncertain terms that the people do not believe the lies any more. The expected and honourable thing the Prime Minister should do is to keep his word for the sake of the reputation of the political class and for Malta itself. As this will of course not happen, then the next best thing is for the PL is to stop the denial via more lies and just be brave enough to speak the truth. They must stop acting like John Wayne and take our future stability far more seriously. The Progressive Liberals and Nationalists will no doubt carry on behaving in this manner, exactly as they have been doing so for years. Until, that is, the time comes when they will have no option but to face a more serious, truthful and trusted party directly. Until their lies and behaviour will cost them real seats in Parliament, they will not change. That process has already started. It starts with the minds of the people and what they accept/reject. It will, without a shadow of a doubt, reach its aims in offering a viable alternative to the present political system that people are refusing to trust and be part of any more. A viable and third party is now no longer desirable. It is necessary.
First Published on The Malta Independent 2/11/14