I thought you’d like to read the e-mail below. Makes interesting reading.
what you said about the cracks in the Nationalist Party is spot on. You Labourites are obsessed with the idea of the Nationalist camp as an invincible monolithic organisation in which everybody follows their leader. It may have been so once, in the glorious days when Austin was general secretary, but even if it really was so united then, it is no longer so today. No wonder Austin is planning to retire to his ancestral Gozo.
I don’t know about Joseph’s earthquake – I will believe it when I see it – but I do know about the coming earthquake in the Nationalist party. The warning signs are increasing in frequency and magnitude. One seismograph that has been vibrating like crazy is none other than Daphne Caruana Galizia.
It is fashionable amongst Nationalists, especially those with intellectual and liberal pretensions, to distance themselves from the lady. Well, I have never been keen on fashion so I have no problem in admitting that I regularly read her column in The Independent on Sunday. In fact, if I may add, she is the only reason why I still buy that paper. Its proprietors should thank their lucky stars that Daphne writes for them. If she didn’t, their paper’s circulation would be even lower than it is.
Same thing as far as her blog is concerned. I am, I must confess, addicted to it. I won’t admit this to my scholarly friends in the canteen – who congregate there between lectures to complain about Juanito’s failure to stand up to Government – but reading Daphne’s blog is fun of sorts. It is not so much that she is not much loved at Tal-Qroqq after what she wrote concerning the quality of our work and our claim for higher salaries.
It is something deeper that deserves closer scrutiny but this beyond the scope of this comment. It is as if what you have called the ruling party no longer has any use for Daphne. If I understand my colleagues correctly, even (or especially?) the most Gonzjani of them, she was an asset in a previous political season. She is now close to being a liability. Her fate, they claim, is tied to RCC. When he goes, they say, she goes.
Not if it depends on me and those, like me, that read her online in the solitary intimacy of their room. We do not brag about this solitary self-indulgence. We often, in fact, lie and pretend we don’t.. But read her we do and read her we should if we really want to know what is going on. Let’s take an example.
On Sunday, January 18th, 2009, Daphne wrote about the Migra l-Ferha story. (See http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=81699).
You know, the one about how the Police caught between five and eight persons apparently attempting to smuggle into Malta a consignment of cannabis which then turned out to be ‘soap’. Daphne noted out that not all those apprehended were charged in Court and when four of them were arraigned this was done mostly behind close doors except for the bit about the cannabis turning into ‘soap’.
Daphne made three, to my mind, important remarks. Firstly that “all this chortling about soap has distracted is from the rather more interesting aspects of this botched smuggling operation”. She did not quite say that someone purposely magnified the ‘soap’ bit in a bid to deviate attention from the political dimension of the story (presumably on the grounds that it is better to make the police look ridiculous than draw attention to the kin of one of the persons caught) but that is how most readers will have understood her.
Her second point is that if this was indeed someone’s intention, then it failed because “precisely because of those closed doors which prevent the facts from getting out into the public domain, some extraordinary stories and rumours are flying about”. Daphne then goes on to give us an example of one such ‘extraordinary story’.
“I heard from a reliable person not given to gossip, and who has extensive business connections in Libya,” she writes, “that the notorious brother of a cabinet minister had been picked up by the police for questioning as to his involvement with this ‘soap run’. “I had no reason”, she adds, “to doubt his word.” In a reply to a comment posted on her blog, she names both ‘the cabinet minister’ and his ‘notorious brother’. (See her Reply to John Lane, Sunday, 18 January 16:57 hrs http://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/?p=1424)
Also significant is Daphne’s reference to the faint-hearted report of the same story in L-orizzont. She states that “through sources at the newspaper” she knows that they had the information, and that it was supplied to them by someone at police headquarters. She evidently disapproves of their failure to print names, “despite the fact that this ‘prominent businessman’ featured heavily in Labour’s anti-government campaign in the mid-1990s, when he was put across as a huge liability for his brother and for the cabinet of which his brother formed part then as now”.
Thirdly, she argues that unless the authorities concerned or the said cabinet minister or both make suitable public statements, “the poisonous and dangerous backstreet-information-cum-rumour-mill that was his (and the government’s) undoing in the mid-1990s will have the same effect again.”
You may or may not agree with Daphne that the Nationalist government’s defeat in 1996 was the result of a smear campaign by the Labour opposition, you may also agree or disagree that – it seems to follow – the said cabinet minister (thanks to his brother) was somehow to blame for the 1996 rout, but you must agree that the lady has the balls to state her mind without mincing words.
Of course, her judgement is simplistic and tends to divert attention from the real reasons for that defeat: the arrogance of a power-drunk cabinet and of the cliques of which it was captive. It certainly diverts attention from a whole system and style of government – of which RCC is an icon – to focus on individuals. Blame and sacrifice the said cabinet minister and save the jolly crew! She is peeved that L-orizzont refuses to cooperate with her.
Her fourth, and most important, point is that this incident (or incidents such as these…there is reference to the Gozo gang-rape case), may “have the same effect again”. On this point, I agree with her completely.
This brings me back to my point of departure. Daphne’s attack on the said cabinet minister, because that is what this is all about, is proof that the foundations on which the Nationalist party is built are really coming apart. Considering that Daphne is not a lone desperado but reflects the interests of a certain current of the Nationalist party and its social supporters, then the lady’s tkseskis against a major Nationalist political figure is a sign of the times.
Bertoldo Cacasenno aka Gahan Lawrjat
Above: Achille Scateni’s seismograph, 19th century.