Then and now

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Slick marketing campaigns work: they sell the product. But the trouble with marketing a sub-standard product is that, sooner or later, someone will buy and try it. And if the quality of the product does not correspond with the marketing, the customer will soon see and feel shortchanged. We have now had “Moviment Laburista” for a year and found it to be sub-standard. The marketing division wasn’t honest and the product has not lived up to the hype. Even from within the company, parts of the management team disown the product and workers in the supply chain – those that helped to distribute the product – are rebelling and calling for the product to be recalled because it is endangering the consumers and the reputation of the company. True to form, the arrogant managing director who claims to listen to the consumers is doing the opposite. When the next AGM comes along, the voting shareholders of this company will demand a completely new management team. Forty years ago, yesterday, I experienced Republic day when our country was finally reborn as a truly independent state from the Palace balcony, surrounded by the men and women who had made it happen. For those too young to remember, let me tell you how proud all Maltese were to finally have a country with its own head of state, its own laws and a truly independent future. The citizens longed to chart the direction of our country in democratic elections. As a 10 year old, with my uncle and his team working on the final details up until the last moment, this day influenced me tremendously and still inspires me today. Never did “Malta lewwel u qabel kollox! ring so true as on that day. And it still ought to ring proud and true today. I now appreciate how much these true patriots sacrificed along the way and understand that they would willingly have given their lives for the independence of Malta. They did not rely on acting, scripts or marketing to sell their product and achieve their goals. They relied on leading by example, hard work and personal sacrifice. They would state their views as clearly as possible without spin and seriously debated both what they agreed with and what they did not. This anniversary, I frankly find the behaviour of those who are supposed to carry on the work of these forefathers to be incredibly insulting to all Maltese. During the unveiling of Censu Tabone’s monument this week the PM apologised for the fact that Tabone nomination for Presidency was boycotted by the Labour Party of the 80’s. Since when is it a crime for a Labour leader of the Opposition to boycott someone’s nomination just because the PN of the time had not kept its word and nominated someone from the Labour side for President of Malta? I don’t believe that the PM should apologise for the actions of the Labour Party of the 80s in this case. This is just spin by the progressive liberals to please the right at the expense of the left. At every opportunity, they use Dom Mintoff’s name and achievements to sell their product – the very product that Mintoff fought against so strongly in the marketplace of ideas. I personally find it distasteful and immoral to use Dom Mintoff’s name to sell a product he hated. You cannot applaud Mintoff’s ideology, views and achievements during the unveiling of his statue and at the same time offer parliament a budget that hurts the lower and middle classes, work to remove neutrality from the Constitution or vote to send more powers abroad to the EU and NATO. Using Republic Day as a marketing tool for federalism and at the same time stripping our country of decision-making power is dishonest spin. I am sure il-Perit would have chosen to preserve Malta’s unique identity and safeguard our rights as Maltese rather than sell our passports, independence and democracy to the highest bidder. If statues could speak, I guess the PM would know exactly where il-Perit would think he should go… If Dom Mintoff were alive today, he would argue that the Maltese identity and ‘being’ cannot be protected by either the Progressive liberals or the Nationalists. Both want to supplant the Maltese identity with the notion of being “European”. Mintoff would argue that these parties are backing a failed federalist dream and that they should instead focus on the national interest. “Tlifna lboxla!” The Maltese government must focus on keeping our nation safe, secure, strong and prosperous. To Mintoff and his colleagues, the cry “Malta first and foremost” was not a sales slogan but a way of life. Now the interests of the international community – the EU and NATO – come before the interests of Malta. It is becoming a colony again and ceremonies celebrating past achievement are becoming hollow symbols of what we have lost. It is used more as a backdrop for photo shoots in a dishonest marketing campaign for a product that has passed its sell-by date. On this day I will not look at statues for inspiration. I will quietly smile to myself as I lift a glass. Not to salute the theatrics or the statue but to salute the man himself and belief that is Dom Mintoff. I’m quite sure that there are enough like-minded people to show him that “Malta l-ewwel u qabel kollox!” still lives within us all.

First published in The Malta Independent on 14/12/14