Gonzi’s Good Plan

Posted on October 19, 2007 by

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It’s good that’s what it is. The budget that has just been announced cannot be seen as being a bad budget. In the simplistic balance of good and bad the good wins out by a couple of pounds. There’s income tax measures, there’s support for children, education and development. There’s a nod to such things as culture and the environment. Above all there is a notion of a work in progress that is going in some direction. Today’s article by Berta Sullivan (a not so ghostly PN writer) in the Times is an indication of how the budget fits in the electoral spin – there is a plan, the plan is a PN plan, if you do not want to venture into the unknown keep it steady as she goes and vote PN again.

Then there’s the Friday Wisdom guy who in his hebdomedary dispensations of packets of wisdom has told us that the budget is an electoral tool and that it is difficult to see it as anything more or less than that. Of course it it. But even in his analysis he fails to sufficiently prove to us that there is no plan. At most his wisdom leads to some criticism as to the plan to be adopted but it does acknowledge that there is a plan to be criticised – and not a lump of promises and hidden studies which are (a) unidentifiable and (b) consequently uncriticiseable.

Which is where PN win points in my book. The budget is a LATE (Sant is half right for once) announcement of what they intend to do with the country. Come election time, PN shifts from being the deaf coxswain of the boat who will steer and decide without much heed to any other form of input to being the government with a plan who is all ears to listen. I have my doubts about the listening part. It should probably last till two days after Jour-J. The it will be back to the arrogant style of “We know best what the country wants. We know best what the values of this country are and above all… no divorce, no rent reform, no electoral reform in favour of proper representation and yes, we might be thinking of golf courses and more 5 star hotels. Did we forget to mention how travelling to and from Malta will still be a nightmare?”

Once again PN knows that the biggest asset lies in proving that the opposition once again turns up for the electoral roll-call as one big, disorganised unknown. Throw in a few Birzebbugia like rants and Jobs-for-the boys promises and then even such hopeless performances as Agostino Pio and Joe Saliba are wont to deliver will not do much to damage the ship from sailing home to another victory.

The irony is that the “why and because” of the sudden shift in PN favour after months of trailing in polls is that the undecided and the decided for the third party will once again be given the Hobson’s choice. There’s no way you can risk voting for MLP in these conditions. There’s no way that your third party vote goes to MLPs favour either. You like this new plan. You’d like to believe that they can stick to it without becoming the bumbling, arrogant lot of Mr Creosotes that they all are. So you give them the number 1. That horrid number 1 that ruins the plot thanks to our utilitarian electoral system.

The stage has been set. The danger of having a real party with a real plan eroding votes was sidetracked with the latest electoral reform. Now all that remains is to sit tight and trumpet the plan while letting Sant & Co rave about Vat on education (?), making ends meet (??) and how they love Gozo (???). The rest is as ridiculously easy as setting up a stage on the Fosos….

 … and of course… putting a gag on Austin Powers and Joe Saliba would not do much harm either….

[Jacques René Zammit – Christian Democrat/Liberal]

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