Sunday saw a landslide election victory for Labour in Malta, delivering the party a third term victory against the odds. The win came despite the forced resignation of the disgraced former PM, Joseph Muscat, in January 2020. Muscat’s fall from grace took place during the investigation that followed the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Despite these major scandals, Partit Laburista were victorious; helped on their way to victory by legalising cannabis for personal use last year.
They were advised by a British political consultant who had been playing a key behind-the-scenes role in the campaign advising ministers on how to move on from Muscat and clean up their image at home and abroad. David Taylor, who cut his teeth as a young New Labour staffer and SpAd in the Blair-Brown years, has a reputation for deploying a robust approach to campaigns. It’s a style which clearly found favour in Malta, the small island nation known for its deep-rooted partisan tribalism, where Prime Minister Robert Abela increased both Labour’s share of the vote and its majority over the opposition Nationalist Party.
Ironically, five years ago when David Taylor stood for North Wales Police Commissioner on a “zero tolerance platform” promising to be tough on crime, Taylor said he would “wage war on drugs and trafficking by Manchester and Merseyside gangs”. He even promised a Rudy Giuliani-style war on “anti-social riffraff who threaten to ruin so many lives”. He lost.
Now the government he advises, which legalised cannabis in December, has just won an election on the back of going in the opposite direction and liberalising. Legalising drugs can be electorally popular – who knew?