Labour in labour

Re-inventing the Malta Labour Party (and Maltese politics): an unauthorised tazebao.

Our soul has transmigrated to…

Posted by fcb on January 18, 2009



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Managing the earthquake

Posted by fcb on September 1, 2008

In our last editorial before the Santa Marija break, An Administration to suit the vision and not a vision to suit the Administration, referring to Joseph’s announced ‘earthquake’ we wrote: 

“He never suggested it would be an easy task. We never expected a triumphal march. Restructuring an organisation (actually, we should speak of an institution) is a complex process. Institutions are complex clusters of diverse interests and alliances, rivalries and friendships, scores to settle and old debts to honour, noble ideas and miserable prejudices, habits and rituals, memories, lies and truths. You cannot hope to set out to ‘redo’ an institution (warning beforehand that you will cause nothing less than an ‘earthquake’) and not expect resistance. We expected resistance and we met resistance.”

Joseph has already indicated what sort of organisational changes and innovations he has in mind. The strategic aim is clear: a more effective organisation but not at the expense of popular participation, on the contrary the final expected outcome is a popular party that is open to a variety of progressive but moderate currents of thought that animate European civil societies today.

Note the antinomies: more effective (more centralised?) but more popular and open, progressive but moderate…yes, but that is typical of change and should not worry us unduly. But antinomies have to be managed. If the the Labour Party is not to resign itself to become the natural party of opposition (and then to extinction before the first quarter of this century, max.), it needs the change Joseph is dedicating his life to, but it also needs to survive the difficult surgery that this change implies. Let’s bear this in mind when our new Leader changes gears, brakes, pauses at the pit…the pace of change will require frequent maintenance, we certainly don’t want our car to fall apart in the process. Remember electorates don’t vote for divided parties. Joseph has the unenviable task of unleashing an earthquake whilst keeping the Party together. So, think twice before you lose patience. The guy’s got to manage an earthquake.

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Posted by fcb on August 28, 2008

The end of August holidays is nigh! Let the good rejoice and the bad tremble for we’ll be back next Monday, September 1st.

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An Administration to suit the Vision, not a Vision to suit the Administration.

Posted by fcb on August 10, 2008

Inspired by the ideal of transforming Malta into a European country we need not be ashamed of, Joseph candidated himself for the position of Leader of the Labour Party with the determined intention to be Prime Minister in 2013 at the latest. It was clear to him,  as it was clear to all who supported him, that to reach that goal he would first of all have to re-invent the Party. He would have to restructure its organisation at all levels. He would have to midwife a new culture within the party, a way of thinking that would make it possible for Labour to participate in a broader movement of moderates and progressives, a political home for all men and women of good will.

He never suggested it would be an easy task. We never expected a triumphal march. Restructuring an organisation (actually, we should speak of an institution) is a complex process. Institutions are complex clusters of diverse interests and alliances, rivalries and friendships, scores to settle and old debts to honour, noble ideas and miserable prejudices, habits and rituals, memories, lies and truths. You cannot hope to set out to ‘redo’ an institution (warning beforehand that you will cause nothing less than an ‘earthquake’) and not expect resistance. We expected resistance and we met resistance.

It was not, it must be said, the sort of resistance we expected. It was not the principled resistance of traditional schools of thought or of alternative visions of the future. It was the resistance of individuals without identifiable ideas of their own, without traditions and certainly without visions. It was the resistance of individuals whose ideals can be summed up as follows: I want to keep my place. Well, everybody was warned that an earthquake was on the agenda. Nobody in his right senses could have failed to understand that the Administration of the Party could have been spared the impact of the earthquake. We need an Administration to suit Joseph’s Vision, not a Vision to suit the existing Administration.

It would have been better had the Delegates chosen individuals with the qualities necessary to oversee a change in their own role. That they chose individuals capable only of thinking in terms of their own narrow individualistic perspective, has merely complicated matters and made them more painful than they need have been. Mainly for the individuals themselves.

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Support Joanne Cassar! Join the SOLIDARITY MESSAGE MARATHON!

Posted by fcb on August 1, 2008

Labour in labour supports Joanne Cassar’s right to marry her partner!

Joanne Cassar was born male. Following gender reassignment surgery she was legally declared female.  Now she wants to marry a man she loves.In 2006, the Marriage Registrar refused her application for marriage. In 2007, she filed an application in the Civil Court requesting that the Director of the Public Registry be ordered to issue the banns. Her application was upheld and in February the Court ordered the issue of the banns. In May of this year, however, the decision was revoked.

Joanne is not giving up. If necessary, she has declared, she will take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Labour in labour is taking the symbolic initiative of organising the JOANNE CASSAR SOLIDARITY COMMENT MARATHON! It’s simple, just post a comment in the SPECIAL PAGE we have just opened today (go HOME and the click on JOANNE CASSAR SOLIDARITY COMMENT MARATHON!) telling us what you think about Joanne’s determination to have her human rights respected by a member state of the European Union, Malta.

Your comment should state clearly where you stand on this issue. Are you in favour, or are you against? Our goal is to collect 1000 signed comments in favour of Joanne Cassar’s cause. You may disagree, if that is what you think is right, and we will still publish your comment. For a comment to be approved and counted, it has to carry your real name, your ID card number, a real e-mail address and possibly a telephone number where we can reach you if in doubt that you really exist. Only your name will be published. All personal information will be destroyed in the presence of a notary within two weeks of the end of the Marathon.

The Marathon will come to an end on the last day of September 2008 or as soon as we upload comment Number 1000. When the Marathon is concluded we will also publish the number of comments against Joanne Cassar’s cause. We trust that the publicity generated will contribute to foster a progressive European mentality in this country.

The Labour in labour Collective

1st August 2008

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Is Malta losing its head? Stop the beheading of our heritage!

Posted by fcb on July 30, 2008

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Beheading of St. John the Baptist, c.1608
Oil on canvas, 361 x 520 cm, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

Fondazzjoni ghall-Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) is seriously concerned about two development applications to extend the St. John’s Cathedral Museum out to the St. John’s courtyard on Merchants’ Street and also under St. John’s Street and Square. These projects are potentially very damaging to our heritage. FAA feels that MEPA should refuse such applications especially as there is an alternative, considered as much wiser by the Fondazzjoni, to restore and convert one of the nearby deteriorating palazzos as a museum extension.

Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and St. John’s is the gem within that site. FAA is calling on the general public help it ensure the Cathedral is managed with prudence and sensitivity while fulfilling its space requirements in a way that will benefit Valletta for posterity. If you agree with FAA’s view, click on the link ( to send an objection to MEPA by Sunday 3rd August. You may also wish to pass this on to your friends.

The threat to St. John’s Cathedral and its surroundings is too great a risk to ignore. The changes being proposed include excavating St. John’s Street and Square, glassing in the entire cemetery courtyard to accommodate ticketing booths and a visitors centre (or possibly worse) and even a shop to be built right next to the Knight’s graves! 

Is Malta losing its head?

The editorial team of this tazebao believes that it is causes such as these that provide the opportunity for persons of good will to rise above any differences – real or perceived – between them, and to do what needs to be done. Some of you may doubt that individuals can make a difference in the face of an obtuse and unresponsive state. We beg to differ. If and when many individuals decide to make their voice heard, without ‘teatrin’, with moderation (what is more moderate than an e-mail to MEPA?) but with determination not to be pushed around and ignored, then it makes a difference. A big difference. The core visitors of this website are proud of their progressive ideas. Well, then what are you waiting for? Progressives will not tolerate the beheading of our national heritage in the name of progress!



OBJECTION TO PA 00167/08 and 00168/08 Site at St John’s Cathedral Valletta

As a member of the public concerned for my country’s heritage, I vehemently object to the above-mentioned applicationsto extend St. John`s Museum by building an extra exhibition space and a shop projecting out onto the courtyard of St. John’s Cathedral, as well as to the excavation of chambers below St. John`s Street and Square, connecting to existing underground reservoirs and to St John’s Cathedral and to construct vertical lifts through all floors and other alterations.

The excavation of St John’s Square in order to provide more chambers might not only affect the Cathedral’s foundations, but will also destroy the remains of a palace of the Knights’ period there. Valletta’s underground chambers, tunnels, channels and water cisterns for the catchment of rainwater and the disposal of waste water are 16th century engineering treasures, evidence of the advanced engineering techniques of Laparelli and Geronimo Cassar and of the Order’s foresight in ensuring Valletta’s water supply. As such they should be mapped out, studied and preserved, and not damaged and exploited.

In addition to contravening several MEPA regulations on the preservation of Urban Conservation Areas, these applications also violate the Heritage Act since St. John’s Cathedral as a National Monument Schedule Grade 1 falls under: “Buildings of outstanding architectural or historical interest that shall be preserved in their entirety. Demolition or alterations which impair the setting or change the external or internal appearance, including anything contained within the curtilage of the building, will not be allowed. Internal structural alterations will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances where this is paramount for reasons of keeping the building in active use.”

Clearly, this does not permit an extension which changes St. John’s external appearance, just as the Cathedral does not need an extension in order to remain in use.

If the Cathedral needs extensions, these could be accommodated in one of the many palazzos or old buildings in the immediate neighbourhood of the Cathedral which are in an advanced state of deterioration. I maintain that the enormous funds to be spent on this extravagant and damaging project would be much better spent on investing in and restoring such a palace as a ‘state-of-the-art museum’. This would avoid the damage to Valletta’s underground heritage, avoid any risk to the foundations and structure of St. John’s Cathedral, spare the residents, shops, visitors and tourists years of upheaval in ripping up the newly-paved square, and will enrich Valletta through the restoration and rehabilitation of a decaying building.

I therefore urge Mepa to refuse these applications and ask to be recognised as an official objector and to be kept informed of any developments and hearings on this case by communicating with me at the above-mentioned email address.

Name & Surname, Postal and E-mail address

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The sense of humour of the great unwashed: kachkéis and nuts.

Posted by fcb on July 23, 2008

View of the Upper Town of Luxembourg and drawing of postman, postbox, and Luxembourg postage stamps, postcard, 1912.

See the exchange of niceties between our Thomas Falzon and Jacques R. Zammit of the blog J’accuse.  You’ll find it under Representing diversity in a complex and dynamic world: the moderate and progressive vision of European democracy.  That you are at it, also have a look at Anna Maria Callus’ squeezing of Dr. Sigmund Bonello’s nuts. As the controversy rages in the ‘have-your-say’ section on the ADMINISTRATION & NATIONAL EXECUTIVE ELECTIONS, preserve your sanity and have a laugh. It really looks like Joseph’s New Political Season is compelling the elites to realise that the ‘great unwashed’ have a formidable political weapon…a sense of humour.

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Representing diversity in a complex and dynamic world: the moderate and progressive vision of European democracy.

Posted by fcb on July 19, 2008

Copernicus, fractal art, Sven Geier, 2007 (image inverted by LiL team) [*]

The Prime Minister’s decision to set up a select committee of the House of Representatives, representing both parties equally, to discuss issues related to the strengthening of democracy is one of the first tangible results of Joseph Muscat’s leadership.

The committee’s agenda is impressive and almost daunting:

* Public broadcasting
* Electoral Law
* Public financing of political parties and party funding transparency
* Adequate resources for Parliament
* A reform of the Permanent Commission against Corruption
* Strengthening of the Office of the Ombudsman
* Regulation of parliamentary appointments
* Regulation of ministers’, parliamentary secretaries’, and MPs’ conflict of interest

We feel that Lawrence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat have both understood the great opportunity offered by the present exceptionally favourable political circumstances to take Malta a step closer to the standards of governance expected of a European country today. One hopes that all of the MPs chosen to sit on this historic committee (Tonio Borg, Anglu Farrugia, Austin Gatt, Charles Mangion, Karmenu Vella and Francis Zammit Dimech) will live up to the considerable responsibility they have been entrusted with by their respective leaders.

Joseph’s insistence that civil society should be given the opportunity to have its say before any decision are taken, including the trade unions, the constituted bodies, Alternattiva Demokratika (the only organisation he specifically named) and the NGOs, should not be underestimated. Parliament is the highest expression of our democracy but does not, cannot, comprehend and express the complexity, diversity and dynamism of the galaxy of interests, aspirations and preoccupations that characterise Maltese society close to the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

The latter is an issue that needs to be seriously engaged by the political parties. Malta’s consistently high electoral participation rates hide the fact that in between elections an increasing number of Maltese and Gozitans feel alienated from ‘the political class’. Voting Labour or Nationalist at elections today does not mean that one identifies completely with the culture of the party one has voted for. Indeed, one wonders why so many thinking citizens continue to vote for so many candidates whose ignorance is surpassed only by their arrogance. And we are not thinking of the marginal cranks, oddballs and black sheep that occasionally jump onto the stage. We are thinking of the average candidate’s ability to read and appreciate the signs of the times and to ‘represent’ these in the House of Representatives.

The problems of political representation of diversity in a complex and changing society is one of the main issues that Labour in labour intends to pursue. It is central to any discussion of democracy in the contemporary world and, more emphatically, of the vision of democracy of European moderates and progressives.

[*] See Caaretaker’s note below.

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Choosing the Labour Party’s administrators and national executive.

Posted by fcb on July 18, 2008

Visitors to this blog, including the contestants themselves, are cordially invited to post their comments in the special page MLP ADMINISTRATION & EXECUTIVE ELECTIONS. Any comment focusing on the forthcoming election of the Party’s Administration and national executive posted anywhere else in our virtual tazebao will be redirected to the said special page. We are doing this to prevent the discussion on these elections to deviate Labour in labour from concentrating on the bigger picture and on the rethinking of the Party’s strategic goals.

Comments should, ideally, be signed by their author and the latter’s identity should, ideally, be a real one. We are not always in a position to verify identities and we appreciate that there are situations that justify the use of a pseudonym. We trust commentators will exhibit the good taste that has, so far, characterised the overwhelming majority of contributions to Labour in labour.

Nominations received by the MLP’s Electoral Commission:

· President : Wenzu Mintoff, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

· Vice President : Louis Gatt, Alexander Sciberras.

· Secretary General: Gino Cauchi, Keith Grech, Alfred Grixti, Jason Micallef, Joe Vella Bonnici, Joe Chetcuti.

· Secretary Finance: Frans Chircop, Tommy Dimech, Jeffrey Camilleri, Joseph Cordina.

· Secretary Public Relations: Ray Azzopardi.

· International Secretary: Lorna Vassallo, Joe Mifsud, Alex Sciberras Trigona.

· Secretary Education: Anthony Degiovanni, Aaron Farrugia.

· 10 ordinary members of the National Executive: Nikita Zammit Alamango, Simon Saliba, Claudette Abela Baldacchino, John P Bonnici, Charles Cassar, Gino Cauchi, Frans Chircop, Michael Cohen, Roberto Cristiano, Aaron Farrugia, Anthony Degiovanni, Nettu Farrugia, Keith Grech, Alfred Grixti, Darren Marmara, Charles Marsh, Paul Pace, Salvu Seychell, Antoinette Vassallo, Lorna Vassallo, Christian Abela, Ray Azzopardi, Saviour Bonnici, Josephine Cassar, Joe Chircop, Chris Cilia, Frans Debono, Roberto Debrincat, Ancel Farrugia Migneco, Leonard Falzon, Charlon Gouder, Manuel Rocco, Alexander Sciberras, Jennifer Tabone.

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The public transport strike: konsenturi.

Posted by fcb on July 16, 2008


The public transport strike has shaken the country. The Malta Transport Federation shows no signs of softening. An “and-everybody-lived-happily-ever-after” end is not in sight. True, the economic impact has not (so far) been catastrophic. The political and social impact, however, has been more powerful and more serious than meets the eye.

The political impact on the ruling Nationalist Party has been tremendous. The rank and file of the Party is shocked at the intensity of the strikers’ anger. The ordinary Nationalist supporter is genuinely surprised. We spoke to several and most reacted in the same way. They ask: “What did we do to them? Many, perhaps most, of them are Nationalists like us. Couldn’t we have solved this amicably, as we always do?”

Although Minister Austin Gatt puts up a facade of cool uncompromising toughness, not all is well within the Government and within the Party in government. There are clear signs of fatigue and cracks – konsenturi – are beginning to appear. We are not surprised. The stress is tremendous. The attempt to reassure the rank and file of the Nationalist Party and the ordinary Nationalist supporter that all is under control is beginning to fail.

Many of them are beginning to wonder who is responsible for a situation that could have been prevented. Many are beginning to point fingers and to speak of serious political mismanagement. Many are expecting Lawrence Gonzi to relieve Austin Gatt of a job that is evidently above and beyond his political competence and ability. Gatt, many – including a number of his own colleagues – have concluded, is unable to solve a problem that should not have been a problem in the first place.

The social impact, too, has been considerable. It has been a long time since we witnessed words and actions as harsh as some of those we heard and saw in the last three days. The effect will not rub off easily. The harshness we witnessed is a clear sign that beneath the surface not all is well in this society. Pressures from conflicts and resentment are building up to a level that is fast approaching the danger mark.

The political responsibility for the build-up of these pressures goes beyond the responsibility for the situation we are living through now. The public transport strike is only one episode, one of a number of other potential eruptions. The roots of this turmoil is to be found in the irresponsible manner with which Nationalist governments have, over the years, failed to tackle important issues decisively and definitively.

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