17 July 2011 by Daphne Caruana Galizia
All the talk right now is of Cyrus Engerer, the erstwhile rising star of the Nationalist Party who has pressed the self-sabotage button by joining Labour.
On Facebook, he accused the prime minister of committing political suicide – just as I did, though not on Facebook – and then promptly did the same himself. Within the Nationalist Party he had the prospect of a stellar career, because he is in the unique position of appealing to a spectrum of typical Nationalist Party electors, and on the strength of that would have had considerable clout within the party machine, but he has chosen instead to be a token black in a party of brontosauruses led by a man who urged us to vote against EU membership, a party which corrals its homosexuals in a pen called LGBT Labour, as though they are freaks requiring special treatment.
If Cyrus Engerer, for whose views I have the utmost respect and whose manners and way of speaking I admire, prefers to be the political equivalent of a circus dwarf at the end of Joseph Muscat’s leash, instead of a real player in a political party where the sexuality of real players is ignored just as it should be, then that’s his choice.
I think he’s made the biggest mistake of his political career and if he persists with it, will live to regret it deeply. I say this not because I am smarter than Cyrus Engerer, because I am not. It is just that I have lived longer, been through a great deal more, and so my perspective is different. Many people of my age look back at their lives and can see what they couldn’t see when they were in their 20s: the fork in the road at which they stood, and the wrong turning they took, along which they travelled so far that they could never get back and take the right road to what should have been their preferable destiny.
Engerer is at that stage in life where everything seems possible. It is only later that we discover how chains of small decisions, or just one very big one, can shape our future in an irreparable manner. The true measure of our intelligence is in the decisions we take and how we deal with the consequences, even when we are under considerable emotional pressure – especially when we are in that condition of upheaval.
Engerer’s assessment of the situation is completely wrong, but in his state of upset at the divorce shenanigans and the mindset it has revealed, with which I empathise totally because I feel the same way, he cannot see this. He has made quick decisions and Joseph Muscat, showing the same predatory predisposition towards the emotionally vulnerable which he manifested against Joseph Cuschieri, homed in immediately with snake-oil sleaze and manipulative talk, the archetypical used-car salesman.
This marks Muscat even further down in my estimation, as I just cannot abide those who take advantage of people who are emotionally vulnerable. A decent man would have said: “Cyrus, this is not the best time to take a serious decision like this. Take some time out and think about it properly before you decide. Then let me know.” But all Joseph Muscat wants is the headline news-flash and the token homosexual because the Labour Party’s homosexuals are all in the closet and stay there even when they get tied up and found by the police in a compromising position.
Cyrus Engerer has criticised the prime minister for acting against the will of the people, but his response to that is to do the same thing himself. He was voted into the Sliema Council by Nationalist Party electors, not because he is Cyrus Engerer the man but because he is Cyrus Engerer the Nationalist Party candidate. By switching to Labour he has betrayed them and gone against their express instructions. Resigning from the party and keeping his seat as an independent councillor would have been just about tolerable to those who put him there, but he cannot claim to be an independent councillor when he has said already that he is moving to Labour. That just doesn’t wash and he will feel the full strength of their wrath come next election.
Let’s put it this way – even Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, because he is exactly the same age I am and so knows better – is well aware that he has no political future with the Labour Party. Nobody likes a political turncoat, even if the turning is done in their favour. Within the party itself, nobody likes an arriviste who has just crossed over from the other side and thinks that he deserves special treatment or a reward for doing so, when others have been slogging away within that party for years.
Those who believe that Cyrus Engerer will now become a leading light in the Labour Party are foolish. I have lived and breathed Maltese politics for long enough to know that cabinet positions and other senior government roles, even party roles, are cattle-traded not on the basis of intellectual ability or political skills, but on seniority and long service to the party. The Labour brontosauruses who have strained and gagged in frustration on the Opposition benches since 1987, bar a 22-month blip, will not gracefully step aside to clear the way for Cyrus Engerer to become Minister of Social Affairs or Chief Liberal Adviser to Joseph Muscat. He will find himself as deeply ostracised and invisible as Marisa Micallef is now.
The only politicians who are celebrating this move by Cyrus Engerer are those who would have been his fellow Nationalist Party candidates on certain districts in 2013. He has foolishly removed himself from the field and left it open to them, only to enter another field packed with old bulls who are ready to gore him and leave him to bleed to death. And that they will do.