Labour in labour

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

A regatta or an open confrontation of ideas?

Posted by fcb on April 14, 2008


Above: Canaletto, A Regatta on the Grand Canal, circa 1740 oil on canvas 122.1 X 1828 cm, National Gallery, London


Addressing his sympathisers at the Cospicua Regatta Club yesterday, Dr. George Abela appealed “to those who will be voting for the new leader to use their mind not their hearts”. We agree with him completely.

The choice of the venue, a regatta club, set us thinking. The word ‘regatta’ is of Italian descent, from the Venetian dialect, and originally referred to a boat race among gondoliers held on the Canal Grande. The etymology of the term is uncertain. Some think it derives from ‘riga’ (‘line’), others from ‘aurigare’ (competing in an ‘auriga’ – a chariot – race), others yet suggests that it comes from ‘ramigium’ (‘remeggio’, the act of rowing).

John Florio (1553-1625), linguist, lexicographer, language tutor at the Court of James I and possibly a friend of William Shakespeare, in his Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tounges, defines it as “a strife or contention or or struggling for the maistrie”. In this case – where the word is assumed to be derived from ‘regattare’ (to compete, haggle, sell at retail) – the regatta is conceived as a struggle for mastery. Whatever the case may be, the point is that the term has since found its place in all major European languages to refer to a boat race.

But should the process of choosing a new leader for the Malta Labour Party be conceived as a race? Or, thinking of the more cynical of you out there, should it be a struggle for mastery? Would it not be more beneficial for the Party and for this small Country if, rather than a struggle or a race, it were to be more of an open confrontation of ideas, a debate on where we are, where we want to go and how we are going to get there? Quite frankly, platitudes and generalities apart, we have yet to be told by the contenders, what it is concretely that they have in mind for the Party and the Country.



60 Responses to “A regatta or an open confrontation of ideas?”

  1. Tazebao Caretaker said




  2. charles cassar said

    Why don’t you state your bias? When Joseph Muscat launched his campaign you talked about his “bold statement” , with George Abela you’re discussing the definition of the term regatta. U ejja halluna….. qed tahsbuna fidili? Shame.

    Charles Cassar

  3. Tazebao Caretaker said

    Halina Wawzyniak (, a politically committed lawyer from Berlin, has visited our virtual tazebao and liked it. She appreciated our efforts to discuss ideas rather than individuals (“der Ansatz, nicht über Personen zu diskutieren , sondern Anforderungen an das Amt zu formulieren, ist mir sympathisch”). Above all, however, she liked our way of not getting too hot under the collar when debating such a controversial issue (“richtig gut ist, wie unaufgeregt -so scheint es mir- eine Debatte um einen Parteivorsitz geführt werden kann”). Thanks Halina!


  4. harloc said

    Yes Charles you are right. You see what is destroying our party. Everyone making something for his own creed and not in the interest of the party of the ideology behind the party. Before yesterday’s meeting of Dr. Abela, I had a favourite contestant in mind, but I assume that from what I have written no one can conclude who s/he actually is. But yesterday, in my humble opinion, Dr. Abela has shown that he has the right maturity, knowledge of leadership, charisma and open arms that willl make the party unite again under one leadership and without many leaders that are only interested in their gains. Yes he left the party in 1998 on the brink of an election, but also everyone knew that it was difficult for the party to win that election. It is a pity that ‘fcb’ ridiculed the venue. He should know better. Could it be that the party would not have allowed Dr. Abela to hold the same discussion in the party club or that Dr. Abela did not want the club committee of Cospicua to decide whether to allow him to hold the discussion in that place. Furthermore, the regatta club is one of the largest closed spaces in the Cottonera and in case it rained, it would have held a lot of people inside. Maybe fcb is not from the South and hence does not know th locality. So please come on and comment maturely in this place. Contribute with maturity to this discussion without being onesided.

    BC (aka Harloc)

  5. Yves Caruana said

    I like what I see and I see what I like! Funny I should have got to know about this blog from pale-blue Nationalist friends who are studying with me in England and who actually appreciated it. They had to admit that it is possible to want a Labour government and yet be intellectually stimulating, in tune with the world and not tribal. It is true that the behaviour of the Nationalist marmalja before and after the 8 March elections – including Daphne Caruana Galizia nee Vella’s verbal vomit – has certainly played a major role in getting them to abandon old self-righteous stereotypes of ‘them’ and ‘us’. It is not an exaggeration to say that some Nationalists intellectuals are questioning the ‘naturalness’ of these identies and seeing them for what they truly are namely, social contructions with roots in a particular historical situation. In the next year or two we will witness a self-questioning by intelligent persons of good will who happen to have been born in Nationalist families. Will this ‘crisis of conscience’ have any significant political impact. I do not think that, on its own, it will bring any government down. It will, however, contribute to eroding the widespread and politically effective idea that is common in a certain milieu – where it is as ‘natural’ as ‘common sense’ – that Charles Mangion was indeed right, they do have a different DNA! As more and more intellectually honest young men and women realise that there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ right or predisposition to govern on the part of any social group, but that this cocksuredness is itself socially constructed, then the political effect of that conviction will become weaker. What was previously accepted unquestioningly as common sense, will appear as merely that which it is…the sense common to a particular social group. What is socially constructed and not indelibly written in our genetic code, can be socially deconstructed.

    Yves Caruana

  6. Rachel Zarb said

    Charles Cassar (comment No. 2) accuses ‘Labour in labour’ of bias in favour of Joseph Muscat. Allow me to solemnly declare that I am completely biased in favour of Joseph Muscat’s determination to become the next Labour prime minister . I also solemnly declare that George Abela is not the sort of Leader the Labour Party needs now. Nor is he the sort of Leader of the Opposition that Malta needs now and certainly not the sort of Prime Minister that Malta will need to govern it to the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.
    Joseph will be 39 in 2013, 44 in 2018 and 49 in 2023. How old will George Abela be in 2013, 2018 and 2023? But it is not only a question of age. It is also a matter of competences and outlook, of perspectives and attitudes. An open discussion of these issues is what I expect from this website. Is this website biased towards Joseph Muscat? If it is, it isn’t biased enough for my tastes!

    Rachel Zarb

  7. Alan Azzopardi said

    Come off it, Charles! I have just read the editorial of today’s issue of Labour in labour. In the first first sentence it quotes approvingly George Abela’s appeal yesterday in Cospicua that “those who will be voting for the new leader [should] use their mind not their hearts”. What else do you want? That the editor should canvass openly for George Abela? In any case, they don’t seem to have stopped you from telling us your views! Fair enough, I have no way of checking if your comment has been published completely or if it has been censored. If it has been cut in any way, then I will be the first to join you to say “Shame on you” to the people who publish this blog. If you have not been censored, you should be consistent with your own declared ethical standards and write again to tell us that you have not been gagged. After you do that, let us decide who is biased.

    Alan Azzopardi

  8. danny attard said

    I endorse the view that prospective candidates have yet to tell us what key reforms they have in mind if elected leaders. We have had our fill of reaching out and opening doors and how each candidate can lead the party to sure victory with flags waving in the galloping wind. We still have to rely on impressions as hard canvessing is replete with rhetoric and is lacking in focus. Dr Abela speaks, among generic topics, of unity and of the way the party treated Dom Mintoff. I find it hard to understand how Dr Abela’s treatment of AS’s legacy is conducive to unity and how this treatment is different to the treatment of Dom Mintoff over the past fifteen years. On a positive note, his statement that he is willing to work within the labour party irrespective of the result for Party Leader is indeed a very welcome statement that does indeed work strongly in favour of unity. Pity that sections of the press seem to have missed this very important statement.

    One final note. I read today Dr Muscat’s short contribution on one of the English language dailies. I counted circa 8 (eight) I/my/me’s…8 (eight) too many in my view within the ‘yes WE can’ context.

    Danny Attard

  9. Maria Vella said

    It is with regret that I read Mr Cassar’s contribution in no 2. above. In his energetic campaign, Dr Abela is making justified emphasis on ‘open arms’ and ‘media-friendly’ policies. In supporting Dr Abela’s push for leader, Mr Cassar has the responsibility to lead the way by example.

  10. charles cassar said

    Alan Azzopardi,
    It is George Abela who has been censored. All the newspapers reported the speech he made last Sunday, but for Labour in Labour it’s as if he uttered only one sentence. Unlike the coverage Joseph Muscat got here. Shame.

    Charles Cassar

  11. danny attard said

    Hello Harloc,

    allow me to reflect on your latest contribution:

    You state that with everyone here making something for his own creed and not in the interest of the party and of the ideology behind the party, the party is being destroyed. I have gone through all the comments since inception and can not find anything that goes against Social Democratic principles. So can you provide me with an example of a creed that goes against our principles that I may better understand why you see the party being destroyed through this debate? I believe that the interest of the party and the country is not the exclusive domain of anyone.

    Dr. Abela, like all other contenders, is declaring an open-arms policy that will unite the party ‘again under one leadership and without many leaders that are only interested in their gains’.

    I suggest you better explain how you classify the ‘many leaders that are only interested in their gains’. Your broad-brush statement may include hundreds of people who in my opinion worked hard under AS’s leadership for social democratic principles without any personal interest. Could it be that this oft repeated stance impacts negatively on Dr Abela’s prospects as it encompasses a very wide range of attivisti and raises eyebrows when stated in the same breath as calls for unity? Do you include persons in administration, media, committees, councilors and mayors etc who have all worked under the leadership of AS? Do you agree with NP supporters that Dr Joseph Muscat is an AS man? During the electoral campaign I frequently asked myself why the positive image of Dr Muscat and the two other MEPs was not made use of, especially at a time when the MLP’s EU credentials came under attack.

    I am also very keen to know the values of Dr Abela and of the other applicants, on matters that concern so many aspects of Maltese Society – environment, women’s lot, education, research and development, vision on Malta’s wealth creation prospects, medical services, divorce, single parents, immigration, Malta’s state of financial health, contract workers/abuse of self-employed, and so on and so forth.

    And this brings me to your opinion that ‘It is a pity that ‘fcb’ ridiculed the venue’. I personally thought it was a brilliant post using the ‘regatta’ analogy to ask if the leadership contest (oh what a word 🙂 ) should be a struggle for power or a confrontation of ideas, a debate on where we are, where we want to go and how we are going to get there? … indeed a wise and mature exhortation that can only strengthen the body politic of the Labour party as a do-good force desperately needed by our country in this moment of need.

    Danny Attard

  12. Joe Borg said

    It was good to see Dr George Abela back in the fold. Likewise, I’ve seen some of his supporters who are also welcome back to the party. There is nothing wrong when people within the party discuss ideas. Of course, after the debates comes the vote taking, and democracy dictates that the majority lead the way whichever group or persons these happen to be. But if George Abela is sincere, and this time he seems to be sincere, he has to declare in public that if he does not become leader, he continues to work inside the party and not suffer (again) outside in silence. To be fair, I expect each and every contestant to do the same.
    The only thing that worries me about George is that he is considered as a Mintoffian, and this will scare again the moderate floating voter. Perhaps George or some other contributors here can explain what he stands for. But definately, if George has better ideas and better qualities for leadership than any other contestant, then he should persuade the delegates and more imortant the ever growing moderate middle of the road floating voter of how he sees Mintoff’s very recent past, I mean 1981-1997.

  13. Jeremy Micallef said

    It is a pity that Charles Cassar (see comment no 2) has totally missed the point of the editorial “A regatta or an open confrontation of ideas?” The point is not the definition of ‘regatta’. The point is the definition of the process leading to the choice of a new leader for the Labour Party. Should it be race, a competition between individuals each of whom claims to be in some way or another ‘better’ than the others? Or should it be a discussion about how to get from here to to 2013 and win? With all due respect to George Abela, we are not particularly interested in what we could have done in 1998 regarding Europe but for some reason didn’t do. We would rather he told us what he intends to do, if elected, to make us a less backward EU country than we are, alas, today. That goes for Joseph Muscat too. OK, so he’s young and bright and held in high esteem in the European Parliament. But that is not enough. We want to know more about what he is proposing for the Party and for the Country.

    Jeremy Micallef

  14. Lilian Cini said

    If, as Jeremy says, Charles Cassar (comment # 2) has totally missed the point of the ‘Regatta’ editorial, then what about Harloc? Tista’ tghidli, sur Harloc, fejn gibta din li l-editur ta’ dan il-blog qed jirridikola l-ghazla tal-post ghal-laqgha ta’ George Abela l-Hadd filghodu f’Bormla? Biex nkun zgur li naf x’qed nghid, l-editorjal qrajtu xi hames darbiet. L-editur kien qed jghid semplicement li l-ghazla ta’ mexxej gdid m’ghandiex tkun qisa regatta jew tigrija, imma opportunita’ biex il-kandidati ghal din il-kariga jghidulna x’ghandhom f’mohhom. Trid tkun tabilhaqq ‘unfair’ biex wara li tkun qrajt l-editorjali sbieh u meqjusa (jew ‘posts’) li nsibu f’dan il-blog – certament wiehed mill-ahjar blogs f’Malta jekk mhux l-ahjar – tghajjar lill-shabna li qed jiehdu hsiebu li huma immaturi! U xi nghidu mill-awturi tal-madwar 180 kumment li nsibu gewwa ‘Labour in labour’ (kummenti serji u mahsuba, mhux kif issib f’certu blogs ohra Maltin)? Zgur li hassewhom urtati bil-kliem ta’ Harloc. Hija din l-attitudni ta’ tmaqdir ta’ dak kollhu li huwa gdid u innovattiv li taghmel hsara lill-partit!

    Lillian Cini

  15. charles cassar said

    Ghaziza Lillian
    Inti tghid li dan il-blog huwa “opportunita’ biex il-kandidati ghal din il-kariga jghidulna x’ghandhom f’mohhom”.
    Kif tista tkun taf minn dan il-blog il-kandidat George Abela x’ghandu f’mohhu, jekk gabu linja wahda biss minn dak li qal ,imbahgad komplew fuq ir-regatta? Qabbel ma dak li gabu fuq li qal Joseph Muscat u tara x’nuqqas ta’ serjeta’ hawn f’dan il-blog li il-hin kollu jghid li m’hu qed izomm ma hadd. Iddahqux.

    Charles Cassar

  16. charles cassar said

    Dear Jeremy

    The point is that they only got one line of George Abela’s speech. Now if you think that this is enough to help us understand what George Abela stands for and that George Abela has not been treated unfairly when you compare what they got here on Joseph Muscat’s declaration, then it’s pointless discussing this subject. We’ll discuss regattas instead.

    Charles Cassar

  17. harloc said

    Hi Danny,

    I appreciate your comments with satisfaction as it now seems that someone is actually reading my contributions. Now allow me to reply.
    You are right now no one is going against the creed of the party, whatever that creed is/ What I beleive is that more and more people are not beleiving that the party is that social and neither democratic. But this will require a whole blog on it’s own. I think that this debate it not healthy becuase first and foremost it seems to be a propaganda machine for Joseph Muscat as almost non of the other candidates were mentioned and then an anti-George Abela has started. Could be it a divide and conquer situation?
    As regards to the party unity, all those who remember 1998 know better that the party was divided into two factions, mainly the Alfred Sant side and the Mintoff side. I remember well George Abela trying to mend things between them to get the best solution in the interest of the party and of the contry and not to ruin all the hard work that the party went through to gain the majority of votes. And beleive me, few of the contenders did much to keep the party united and the country move forward. Instead after a lot of work by the Alfred Sant group, as usual the deleagtes were convinced that an election was better. And that was the beginning of the end. Loosing key people in the party. Loosing best thinkers. Friends of AS group moving forward in all important positions in the party. And while the friends of government ministers made their way and gained the best, the AS group of people started master-minding the party. And this became evident in the re-election of AS as leader in 2003 after a double defeat in the referendum and election. Instead some of those that were put aside remained quiet and others attacked the AS web through their columns, interviews and books. They did so not for personal gain as maybe they have become more hated than others, but becuase they foresaw the situation the party is in at the moment. Lost in thinking with a greater task than the one in 2003.
    With ‘leaders interested in their gains’ I mean with persons that only want to lead the party and are not interested in other posts that will be better in the interest of the party. For example some are not willing to accept the role of deputy leader despite they will be better in such position. I think this is egoistic from their end and should be willing to accpet any other position that is proposed to them by the new leader. As regards to AS, I think he was very genuine, but I think that the people around him that managed to convince the delegates in 2003 to re-elect him as leader have influenced many of the decisions taken after the same election. And these are the people that are ruining the party becuase of their personal interest and because of the high salary they are gaining from the funds of the party. I assume you are aware that there are a lot of people that are paid full-time salaries within the party. Not that I disagree, but it must not mean that they are to remain there forever. These people are the high echelons in the party administration, media and even committees which I am sure that in case you are an insider you know better who they are. This was also evident in the way the by-elections were performed after 2003 and the way certain people were excluded and others chosen for a seat in parliament. It was evident in the way certain people got promoted in the party’s media stations and how new niches were created for some and how the people in the party media occupt various posts within the party and local councils. So please do not be pedantic and open your eyes to reality. Beleive me, the AS people have now turned their eys on JM and are backing him all the way. If you notice the way he speaks and the way he replies to questions, I just see a copy of AS with a more charismatic look.
    As regards to GA credentials, at the moment I think that the main issue is not what the leader will do when in goverment, but how the people within the party that have made of the party their own dominion are replaced with more competent people. With the best and balanced elements form the whole party, I am sure that the best electoral program can be developed that will convince the majority of maltese to vote Labour. One has to be really an egoist and full of himself to declare from now what to do when in government.
    I still think that it is ridiculous of the analogy made of the regatta club. You should know better that in the past (maybe youa re too young to remember), the cottonera was the heart of the labour party and of the worker’s movement. And maybe at the moment, most people coming from this area feel that the party is far away from its roots. On the other hand ‘fcb’ did not show a drawing of the fattest man in the workd when referring to JMs speech and his vision when he will become a PM. Hope that he will realise that there are more important issues to resolve within the party before becoming a PM.
    So please, if here you are canvassing for JM do not hide behind the name of the party and attract the attention of The Malta Independent on Sunday.
    Lilian, just a small note cayuse I read it a bit late but I am curious to know how come teh caretaker did not choose another image when other contenders for the post of leader did not choose any images. Beleive me, if you think that hearing all the time the same tone of music is a new way, than you are wrong as this is what has been happening in the last 10 years when heraing ONE news !!!!! And we lost 2 elections in the mean time.


  18. Stephen Mallia said

    Look, guys, this blog evidently attracts younger Labourites. This explains the strength of the pro-Joseph Muscat current. This current evidently does not share Charles Cassar’s “enthusiasm for a possible George Abela candidature to lead the Labour Party. Fair enough. Everybody has a right to her or his opinion on this issue. I disagree, however, with (this current’s) antagonistic attitude. I, for one, am not prejudiced against anybody who wants to contribute to the defeat of the Nationalist government at the earliest opportunity. George Abela is no exception.” Do you remember the words in inverted commas? Of course you do! I wrote them on 26 March, when I criticised Victor Cuschieri for being too hard on Alfred Mifsud who rooted for George Abela. I have not changed my mind. If George Abela wants to contribute to kick Gonzi and company out as soon as possible, then he is one of us.

    Stephen Mallia

  19. Johann Agius said

    Mr. Charles Cassar, I am backing Joseph Muscat for leader but I am offended by your unfairness. Let me remind you that the discussion on this blog started three weeks before you graced us with your presence. The least you could do before condemning us is read past comments. Do you know that the very first comment on this blog (Antoinette Stellini, 20th March) argued that we should “not throw away the idea of having Gorg Abela and Joseph as his deputy to be his successor in the future” ?

    Mr. Cassar should also look up my comment of 26th March. On that occasion I took our passionate Marie Abdilla for being too negative towards George Abela. Here is what I said: “Ma ghogobni xejn il-kumment ta’ Marie Abdilla. Ghaliex din il-hruxija kollha kontra George Abela? Jien m’ghandix hajta f-ilsieni…minn jiehu posizzjonijet horox bhal dawk ta’ Marie Abdilla mhux qed jaghmel xejn hlief jaghti palata lin-Nazzjonalisti billi jdeffes feles bejn Laburist u iehor. Divide and rule, jekk Marie Abdilla tifhimni ahjar bl-Ingliz!”

    Mr. Cassar is not doing much good to George Abela’s cause. Why make enemies when you could make friends? In political parties, in times of institutional change, it is normal for people to take sides and it is normal for different groups to back their respective candidates. What is important at end is that they should all, those who are elected and those who are not, reassemble into a united front to face the common enemy, without rancour and acrimony. Mr. Cassar, however, is sowing seeds of bitterness that will take long to heal. Quite frankly, the Nationalists could not have a better ally than him. As I had told Marie, whoever does this “mhux qed jaghmel xejn hlief jaghti palata lin-Nazzjonalisti billi jdeffes feles bejn Laburist u iehor. Divide and rule, jekk (Charles Cassar) tifhimni ahjar bl-Ingliz!”

    Johann Agius

  20. Anna Maria Callus said

    I regret to note that all this fuss about George Abela has distracted the participants of this discussion from an important issue. What about the presence of women in the leadership? What is for sure is that Marie Louise Coleiro Preca deserves more attention than she got, not only in this blog but in the media too. And yet Charles Cassar and the mysterious Harloc (who I suspect is really a sweet guy after all) don’t seem to give a damn about this. I don’t recall Charles Cassar defending Marie Louise!

    Anna Maria Callus

  21. Tazebao Caretaker said

    Yesterday, I received a comment from Charles Cassar referring to a person who has never participated in this discussion, who is not one of the candidates for leadership, is not a politician and holds no office in any political party, and who had so far been linked to one of the candidates only by Daphne Caruana Galizia in her blog. Charles Cassar has never been refused publication and, as a matter of principle, he will always be welcome. I will not, however, publish this comment unless Charles omits all reference to the person concerned or to any other person not involved in this debate.

    The Caretaker

  22. danny attard said

    Hello Harloc, I enjoyed reading your reactions. While I have no idea who manages this blog, I was one of the first to post here. My comments were never censored. I never felt any bias although I do feel there is an inclination towards Muscat. I find nothing wrong in this as long as debate is reasonable and argumentation loyal. I feel that this blog has enriched the Leadership debate and has given a good account of labour support. I have friends who are antagonistic towards the labour party who were actually amazed that there are labourities who can exchange views through the English language. That is the extent of existing prejudices. Rest assured that I am not an insider. I have some opinions that I am not afraid to air. I feel uncomfortable having George Abela as leader but would be delighted if he occupied the Secretary General role. Re Leader I am not sure as yet. I would love to see Muscat in that role yet am not so sure that he is humble enough to build a professional team around him. I see Varist as party deputy where he can apply his media skills where they are desperately needed. Lots of good raw material that lacks finesse. Re deputy leader parliament – MLCL perhaps in a partnership tandem that recalls Blaire/Prescott? Insomma, I am sure that if you were to be less preoccupied with bias (note I did not mention MF and I think he is an important asset) you will enjoy putting forward your views in favor of GA or whoever because at the end of the day we want whatever is for the best of the country. I do not think we can do this by implying that there is only one name that can fit the bill. All have their strengths and weaknesses, and whoever is chosen will need all our support to strengthen the strengths and dilute the weaknesses. Kuragg man, we are all in the same boat 🙂

    Danny Attard

  23. Marie Abdilla said

    Hello All,

    Tazebao Caretaker, I was pleasantly surprised to see the new makeover that you’ve given the blog. Good work. I also thought that your editorial was excellent. I particularly agreed with the following statement that you made…..makes a lot of sense.

    You said, “Would it not be more beneficial for the Party and for this small Country if, rather than a struggle or a race, it were to be more of an open confrontation of ideas, a debate on where we are, where we want to go and how we are going to get there?”

    Your editorial also reminded me of Leo Brincat’s excellent opinion column of April 15, Yes we can… but how? For those of you who’d like to check it out please go to
    Mr. Brincat also refers to this blog (though he doesn’t mention it by name)in his article.

    Marie Abdilla

  24. Marie Abdilla said

    Watching George Abela on all three TV stations last Sunday made me groan – looked like a throwback to the 80s…. 60 year old Abela back-slapping pensioners. Also he spoke more of the past than what he plans to do for the future. Very depressing. Dr. Abela spoke of his wanting unity – who does he thinks he’s kidding! The fact that on his first public appearance he went to Bormla and spoke of the 98 Mintoff debacle speaks volumes.And why did he have to bring up the succulent titbit that he gave to the PN leaning press about Labour’s 1997 EU strategy … to once more rubbish Alfred Sant, to justify his having left us all in the lurch, to shed doubts on Labour’s EU credentials in his mind thus making his own EU credentials more solid? I groaned again when I read the STOM’s front page headlines, “Labour planned U-turn on EU in 1997”. With George back looks like the anti-Laboour press are going to have a field day. If Dr Abela really wants to work for a Labour victory he sure has a crazy way of doing it!Or is it a case of when he says Labour he just means himself and his hangers-on! Is it once more a case of jew nilghab jew inhassar, George? Hallina kwieti Dr. Abela, saret hsara bizzejjed!

    Marie Abdilla

  25. Marie Abdilla said

    This evening watched Dissett. Was really impressed by Evarist Bartolo’s interview. Very statesmanlike. When faced by the interviewer with past mistakes he humbly admitted that there were times that he made mistakes and that he’d learnt from those mistakes and that in the future he had the experience to do better. He also assertively stood his ground for what he thought was right. But most of all he spoke of his plans for the Labour party of the future. He actually reminded me of my favourite European politician Zapatero, who Evarist says he also admires a lot. I particularly liked his description of his political belief as “Socjalista Libertaju”.Going by what I saw today Evarist would not only make an excellent Leader but I can already see him as a Prime Minister in waiting.

    Marie Abdilla

  26. Victor Cuschieri said

    What is George Abela playing at? In his interview with the Sunday Times published on April 13 he revealed that in 1997 the Labour government had set the wheels in motion to re-route Malta towards EU membership. He also mentioned that Evarist Bartolo, Education Minister at the time had also written an article in a newspaper entitled ‘Convergence’ precisely on this issue which seems to have gone unnoticed.

    I do not know why this article had gone unnoticed but I do have serious suspicions why George Abela brought it to our notice now. Evarist Bartolo is one of the contenders in Labour’s leadership race and something tells me that George Abela has brought up this issue 11 years later just to torpedo one of his opponents.

    Unfortunately this is George Abela’s style. In the same interview he also had a rough go at another leadership contender Joseph Muscat. So Michael Falzon and Marie Louise Coleiro Preca beware . You are next in George Abela’s line of fire.

    I find this behaviour particularly improper, coming as it is from a person who is branding himself as the unifying factor and the bright hope of the Malta Labour Party. A closer look at the unpleasant aftermath of George Abela’s ruptures with the General Workers Union and the Malta Football Association will shatter his self-proclaimed image as God’s gift to Labour unity and electoral success in 2013.

    Someone told me that former Labour Minister Joe Grima……..yes the one who spent years sucking up to the Nationalists for some tv exposure…and of “over my dead body” fame told Pierre Portelli on NET tv that only George Abela could attract people like him back to Labour. With anachronisms like Joe Grima back on board George Abela’s Labour Party the Nationalists can rest assured that in next election they would have the coziest ride to victory.

    Victor Cuschieri

  27. charles cassar said

    Maria Vella

    It is this blog which did not welcome George Abela with open arms and instead of informing the readers what his message was, like they did ad nauseum with Joseph Muscat’s message, they just quoted one sentence and then went on discussing the meaning of the term regatta. What do you expect, that where there is obvious bias and at the same time a declaration of neutrality in the labour leadership race, nobody points it out? We are not living in East Germany of iron curtain times.

  28. charles cassar said

    Dear Johann Agius

    I am sure you are aware what my point is. The editorial of this blog, written after George Abela’s public speech last Sunday, carried one sentence of what Abela said and the rest was about the regatta. Compare this to when Joseph Muscat made his “bold statement”. Some people here want to know what George Abela stands for, the editorial doesn’t give that information as it’s quite difficult to know what a person stands for from one sentence. I wrote to this blog last monday because it has been declared that it is neutral in the leadership race. Last Monday it confirmed that it is not. Al buon intenditore ….

  29. Tazebao Caretaker said


    Thanks to Marie Abdilla, now a veritable “kolonna” of our tazebao, for referring us (see comment 23) to Leo Brincat’s opinion piece in The Independent ( Thanks to Leo for winking at us from his column.

    Leo pointedly entitles his article “Yes we can…but how?” Three brief quotes:

    “We are not in the business of electing a football, rugby or band club president. But someone who hopefully should be Malta’s PM whenever Lawrence Gonzi decides to blow the whistle”

    “It is time for them all to stand up and be counted and tell us clearly in tangible terms what their agenda is even if at this stage it can only be launched within the context of a framework that will ultimately be the subject of consultation within party structures”

    “To my mind the worst option is for any candidate to keep his cards close to his chest, expect a blank cheque from the delegates only to risk being undermined at a later stage with the excuse that the people that matter did not know whether he had a conservative, status quo or liberal agenda, where he really stood on our role in Europe, as well as whether he intended to close the 80s chapter or else continue to hark back to it with a sense of nostalgia”

    Indeed, we are not looking for a sports or band club president but for nothing less than a Head-of-Government-in-waiting. Recent arrivals to this blog may have missed our post of April 2, 2008, entitled “What’s behind your face, Mr. Would-be-leader?” At that point in time we only had three declared contestants, Muscat, Falzon and Bartolo (listed in chronological order of declaration). Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and George Abela had not officially announced their candidature yet. Well, we had demanded of Joseph, Michael, Evarist as well as any future candidate, to tell us what they stood for – not regarding what they may or may not have done in their past reincarnations – but as regards tomorrow and the day after that.

    To refresh your memory and for ease of reference here is what we wrote then: “So now, we have three contestants, Muscat, Falzon and Bartolo (listed in the chronological order of their announcement). They’ve all told us that they are their own men (well, so far, no woman has come officially forward) and that their families are ‘four-square behind me’ and that they can reach out beyond the Malta Labour Party’s traditional core supporters to ensure Labour wins the next election. That’s all very fine, even if not all three are equally credible as magnets of non-traditional Labour elements. It is not, however, enough for us (general conference delegates or paid-up members, whatever will be the case) to make an informed and intelligent choice. Now we want to know what’s behind these guys’ faces. How do they plan to reorganise the Labour Party (not only in terms of structures but also in terms of political culture) to take it to victory? What ideas and goals are we going to put forward to inspire a confused and numbed electorate to believe in Labour as a party of government? What’s behind your faces, Mr. Would-be-leaders?”

    How can Harloc seriously say things like, quote, “I think that the main issue is not what the leader will do when in government, but how the people within the party that have made of the party their own dominion are replaced with more competent people”, unquote. Significantly, Harloc says this in relation to “George Abela’s credentials” and to Joseph Muscat’s declared intention to spell out what he has in mind to propose to the Party for the future. In fact, Harloc does overstep the limits somewhat when he say of Joseph: “One has to be really an egoist and full of himself to declare from now what to do when in government.”

    Well, what can more can we say? Leo and we – and we believe the overwhelming majority of Maltese, of the progressives and moderates who will move towards Labour if they feel they can trust it, of the Party members and delegates – will disagree with Harloc and will not choose a leader that agrees with him. Harloc is only interested in a palace revolution. He wants a leader whose priority is not to tell the Maltese and Gozitans why they should vote Labour at the next election but merely to storm the Winter Palace and replace those (quoting him again) “that have made of the party their dominion” and replacing them with others! This is indeed a regatta that Harloc is proposing, “a struggling for the mastery”, for dominion, as Shakespeare’s friend John Florio defined the ‘regatta’.


  30. maria vella said

    Dear Mr Cuschieri, I am certainly no GA fan. But yesterday I did follow the Joe Grima interview and I must say that while Mr Grima did suggest that GA was the best candidate, he did also say that all the others were worthy to lead the Party. I thought that yesterday’s interview was correct and carried out in the right spirit. Now I do agree that an endorsement by Mr Grima seems to confirm the old-style conservative fare of Dr Abela. I do think that Dr Abela can reach out to a section of disillusioned labourites and a smaller section of Christian democrats, and hence welcome aboard Dr Abela, but he does not have a wide appeal potential to take Malta into a future that promises excitement. As it is the Gonzi product does come across as boring, and by the time of a next general election the public may not want another Gonzi stereotype but a person with a little drive, colour and ambition.

  31. maria vella said

    Mr Cassar remains preoccupied with the lack of evenhandedness he perceives in dealing with Dr Abela’s candidacy. May I suggest that he asks Dr Abela to issue a statement as was done by Dr Muscat (see 20 on first post) and I am convinced that the editors will post it for the benefit of those who may not have followed any one of the interviews given by Dr Abela.

    Maria Vella

  32. EFIX said


    I’m new to this blog but had already started to take an interest in it a couple of weeks ago. It reached my ear through a whisper, that slowly gathered momentum to end in a howl (“Ideally each line of Howl is a single breath unit. My breath is long — that’s the measure, one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath”, Allen Ginsberg). I browsed a few blogs dealing with the Labour party from different aspects (not always in appreciation) and/or the leadership contest within it and can safely say that this Tazebao as you call it is outstandingly superior to rest out there. Keep up the ‘breathing’ 😉

    Yesterday I watched Evarist Bartolo being interviewed first on Bil-Fatti on Net and later on Dissett. Prior to this, I had seldom heard him speak on TV and hadn’t taken any passionate inclination towards his candidature (or that of the others for that matter) in this leadership contest. I am what you would call a moderate. However, listening to Bartolo answer the questions thrown at him I changed my position radically and would like to load the dice in his favour.

    Bartolo answered all the statements and questions with a coolness and a maturity that comes from experience and a humbleness that seems to be so characteristic of his personality. Moreover, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that he endorsed his ideas even when faced with uncomfortable comments (he never lost his cool), and at times even humoured his interviewer by giving them their due credit. He not only owed up to past mistakes but also displayed the wisdom that one earns when you learn your ropes from the lowest ranks in a party, as he did in journalism and media. Bartolo declared an open mind to differing opinions saying that he felt that one does not have to feel overwhelmed by them, or necessarily disagree with them simply because they come from ones political opponents…how’s that for a moderate social democrat? He also displayed a clear vision about his plans for the Labour party, claiming that one of the structures he wanted to reinforce was Internet broadcasting, which in my opinion was one of Labour’s liabilities this past election.

    Yesterday Evarist Bartolo earned my respect and full endorsement, and for one that is a moderate and a political sceptic that is quite some meaty backing! I think he will make a wonderful leader and future PM!

    EFIX (Author’s real name is known to Caretaker)

  33. harloc said

    To Danny Attard: Finally Danny, it seems that you have started to say what you feel and think. Obviously each one of us has diffrent opinions and maybe the Caretaker may create a blog for each of the contenders so that everyone may say his opinion and reply to what others say on each of them. What I did not like is that this site has the labour name and then most of the posts are in favour of Joseph Muscat. Even though I think that his biggest advantage in this race is his age and charisma, I think that they are also his drawbacks. Yes we are in the same boat, but unfortunatley we are not rowing in the same diraction in order to move faster and stronger. Hope that whoever wins will sincerely get back the party back together. And first and foremost gets back the lost sheep and then struggle to convince the Maltese that only Labour is the party that offers piece of mind that is deserved by all Maltese.

    Now to you Caretaker: Sorry but i was expecting that you will be the person that will be mostly impartial here and let everyone say his own. In case someone is not right I am sure that most readers of this blog will let him now. Now to your latest reply and mostly the part that concerns me…..I canot understand why you are quoting me as if I have said a lie. Yes the people that have been in the party main positions have to be replaced especially after the election result and the post-election attitude. Look at the election result. Before the date was announced everyone was sure that Labout would have won and that the party was ready. And instead, the majority dissipated in a loss and we did not even have the Bill Boards ready. Instead we made use of containers and tried to make people beleive that it was an innovative way to publicise your manifesto. Instead when you passed by one of them, one could only see a quarter of the whole image. In our modern society this is not acceptable and someone has to be responsible, similar to the responsibility we expect from the government when something is made in the wrong way. And then the reactions after the result by Jason Micallef on Xarabank and the way the party wanted to close the mouth of the contestants from speaking to the press. These are the people that we have to remove from the dominion they have built within the party. And please do not tell me that you cannot call JM a big head when he speaks of when he will be Prime Minister instead of what he will be first and foremost do to rebuild a Labout majority. First he will have to get rid of the people that are pushing him and then maybe he will be a good leader. He still needs to mature a lot to lead a party like the MLP. In the second paragraph you mentioned that I want a palace revolution. Of course that is what the party needs and the country needs to have a credible opposition so that one day the MLP will return to government. How can I accept people that have made the party loose 3 elections and a referendum. How can I accept a party that continues to say that the referendum was won by the ‘No’. How can I accept people who chosse only people in their favour in the best positions of the party and party media. How can I accept to have the same person cover more than one position within the party and media of the party. How can we accept having people working as journalists, presenters, local councillors, delegates of the party etc etc etc. And we have a lot of such persons. And then there are people like you Caretaker, that hides by attacking me. This is not the new way the party is to make politics and should accept the opinions of all as long as they are constructive. And as you can see from the quotes you have mentioned that I have enough constructive evidence to prove what I write. The party leader had to go to the people after s/he settles the internal issues by getting back the Mintoff supporters, who even though may be leftist people will keep a balance with the right wing people in the party. Then there need to be reconciliations with people like Alfred Mifsud and Lino Spiteri. And in case he does not get any position, even with George Abela. After all the people who may contribute positively to the party are to be again warm heartedly accepted within the party. Then the new leader may start looking forward for the next election. Next election will not be a simple one as Gonzi would have gained all that money from the EU and hopefuly spent them it in the interest of the Maltese. I do not want a struggle out of this election, but just want a program, perferably on Super One, that will allow all candidates to air their programs in case they are chosen as leaders and discuss any issues that are common between them. Look at TVM, they have alredy managed to make 3 such programs and others are on the way. And then Super One just mentions something here and there when the contestants announced their candidature. So please see that this blog is made to accept the opinion of others so that maybe one day we Laburisti will again sing our anthem on the steps of Kastilja.

    BC (aka Harloc)

  34. harloc said

    Well said EFIX.

    Yes, yesterday Evarist Bartolo looked very cool and handled very well all the questions made to him, even those that tried to show some of his negative situations. But one should say well done to him as he acted very well. He has been the best so far. I also think that the interiew with George Abela will also be of the same standard as the man has a lot of charisma as well. Well done for the good comment as you have described it perfectly. Hope to have more of your comments.

    BC (aka Harloc)

  35. Victor Cuschieri said

    On the 1st of April I posted the following comment in response to Mr Alfred Mifsud’s endorsement on NET TV of Dr George Abela’s bid for Labour’s leadership. It was comment no 94 and it is still on this blog under the ‘levely debate’ post for anyone who cares to look it up. I can assure you it was not a silly April fool’s joke. The subject we are dealing with here is very serious.

    I wrote:

    “Mr Mifsud said that George Abela should be thanked for the stand he took back in 1998 when he resigned as Labour’s Deputy Leader for Party Affairs when Dom Mintoff was fighting for bathing rights and barbeques for the people of the Cottonera in the area of the projected yacht marina. This is what the other Deputy Leader at the time Dr George Vella said in an interview given to Maltatoday about Dr Abela’s resignation ‘I want to make it clear that I was not surprised we lost some support following that extraordinary party conference, since people ended up even more baffled, primarily because of Dr Abela’s speech, at a time when we had planned to fully explain the situation we were in….. and I can assure you that when Dr Abela made his announcement, it was a big shock for everybody, since, before the conference, we were all in agreement, including George Abela, that there was no alternative to a general election.’ “

    In to-day’s (April 16) midweek edition of Maltatoday, Dr George Vella reiterated the same statement. He was more assertive and elaborated a little further on details. In the paper’s report about Labour’s critical days in July 1998 signed by Julia Farrugia, Dr Vella, Deputy Leader for Parliamenttary Affairs in 1998, is quoted as saying

    “On that day in the meeting of the national executive, when we were asked who was in favour of this motion (calling for early elections in September of that year) the vote was unanimous. When we were asked if there were any abstentions or votes against, no one raised his hands: not even George Abela”

    George Abela’s feeble comment to this is very ambigous. This is what he told Maltatoday:

    “Yes, in the National Executive I agreed with the wording of the motion. I agreed to go to a general conference with that motion but I never agreed that the Labour government goes for an election”

    Please help me get back on my chair. Such confusing statements from the man who preaches rectitude knock me out of my senses. This is why I agree one hundred per cent with the general opinion that on this very serious and delicate matter Dr George Abela is playing with words. The Maltatoday report closed with the following remark:

    “If George Abela was that adamant against a general election he should have voted against that motion. In that way, his firm position would have been recorded in the minutes of the executive meeting”

    I am afraid that on this thorny issue, George Abela has not got one leg to stand on. I did not recall that he came up with an alternative to the crisis. He just upped and left. His position then was for Labour to hang on in Parliament to be held at Dom Mintoff’s ransom and whims. Who knows? was George Abela hoping that Alfred Sant would in time throw in the towel thus presenting him with the opportunity of getting to Castille with Dom Mintoff’s blessing?

    Victor Cuschieri

  36. charles cassar said

    Maria Vella,
    George Abela didn’t issue some rigid statement to launch his campaign, he held a discussion with some two hundred people. This launching of George Abela’s campaign was covered by all the media and many column inches were written in Monday’s newspapers. But this blog only chose to quote ONE sentence. All the candidates launched their campaign differently, Joseph issued a statement, Varist talked to TVM at his house, Michael And MLouise gave a press conference at a hotel and George Abela held a rally in Bormla. Why are you, Maria, waiting for a statement from George Abela, just because Joseph issued a statement? Are you saying that if George doesn’t do exactly as Joseph did, he will not reported in this this blog. Are you saying this is the reason why they only got one sentence fom his speech? Unbelievable.

    Charles Cassar

  37. Mariella Spiteri said

    Congratulations! An excellent blog! Certainly the liveliest and most mature Maltese political discussion online forum. All the more interesting in that it situates itself on the terrain of the Left. This shatters once and for all the stereotype of Labour in Malta as culturally inferior. Gonzi PN next to this is troglodytic.

    Mariella Spiteri, Manchester

  38. Godfrey Sciberras said

    Harloc and Charles Cassar accuse you of being biased in favour of Joseph Muscat. Something doesn’t figure. I have read recent comments hailing Evarist Bartolo as the next PM and earlier ones proposing George Abela for number one with Joseph Muscat as his deputy. Also, let’s say it’s true that ‘Labour in labour’ is a den of wolves and that you are wolves in sheep’s clothing, none other than Joseph’s poodles (sorry Joe!)…so what? If such wolves are capable of such a politically sophisticated blog as ‘Labour in labour’, then wait for me, I too will dance with wolves!

    Godfrey Sciberras

  39. Emmanuel said

    Segwejt b’attenzjoni Dissett ta’ nhar it-Tlieta li għadda. Fraħt f’qalbi bħala ċittadin Malti li dal-pajjiż jippossiedi politiċi ta’ kalibru.

    Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca ilha 33 sena fix-xena politika Maltija. Minn Segretarju Generali tal-MLP fit-Tmeninijiet imxiet għall-kelliema ta’ l-Oppożizzjoni Laburista fuq diversi oqsma fosthom is-Solidarjetà Soċjali.

    F’Coleiro Preca l-forza għall-bidla li jeħtieġ li ssir fl-MLP hemm qiegħda. Nobsor li jekk tkun hi fit-treġija tagħmel rivoluzzjoni siekta fl-organi kollha tal-Partit Laburista. Ikun diffiċli ferm li l-media Nazzjonalista tiddemonizzaha lil dil-mara, kif għamlet mill-1992 ‘l hawn b’attakki vili kontra l-mexxej tal-MLP.

    Fuq is-sitt distrett Coleiro Preca ġabet kważi 5500 vot. Dan hu sinjal mill-aktar ċar ta’ kemm hi qrib u maħbuba mill-poplu. Ħażin jekk issir kritika fuq dan l-aspett pożittiv fil-portafoll ta’ dil-bniedma li ħafna jqisuha bħala l-iron lady tal-Partit Laburista Malti. Sta għad-delegati li janliżżaw il-kwalitajiet tagħha u li jkunu avangardisti fl-għażla tagħhom. Mara tmexxi l-Ġermanja llum. Ilbieraħ mara kienet li mexxiet l-Ingilterra, l-Indja, l-Iżrael… Pajjiżna m’hux differenti. Ninsab ċert li jekk tinħatar hi bħala mexxejja tkun opponent denn u li kapaċi xxejjen l-isfida ma’ Dr. Gonzi fl-elezzjoni li jmiss.

    Leli ta’ Ħaż-Żgħir (Author’s real name is known to Caretaker)

  40. Ramloc said

    Harloc, are you for real or are you a mere invention of this blog’s owners? I tend to agree with some other occasional visitors to this den of political iniquity that its owners are certainly not supporting Dr. Abela.

    I am not so sure, however – unlike Charles Cassar – that they are really supporting Dr. Muscat. The latter is apparently well-educated but not half as culturally sophisticated as these snobs expect a political leader and future prime minister to be.

    Are they supporting Dr. Coleiro Preca or Dr. Falzon? Hardly. For the ostentatiously intellectual grey eminences steering this blog’s odyssey in the unchartered waters of the leadership campaign, the plebeian and populistic appeal of Marie Louise’s and Michael’s style is certainly distasteful.

    That leaves Evarist Bartolo. No doubt, if Bartolo – who studied in Malta, Britain and the US (Stanford, no less) – were to be asked to confirm my suggestion that this is a pro-Bartolo front, he would certainly deny it or deny any knowledge of such a front if it indeed exists.

    Read EFIX’s comment. It wasn’t just another comment. Note the tone of EFIX’s writing: authoritative and compelling. Note also the Pauline rhetorical device. Like Saul’s conversion on the way to Damascus, EFIX relates how he/she has just seen the light:

    “Yesterday I watched Evarist Bartolo being interviewed first on Bil-Fatti on Net and later on Dissett. Prior to this, I had seldom heard him speak on TV and hadn’t taken any passionate inclination towards his candidature (or that of the others for that matter) in this leadership contest. I am what you would call a moderate. However, listening to Bartolo answer the questions thrown at him I changed my position radically and would like to load the dice in his favour.”

    The trick is clear, whereas Falzon, Abela and Coleiro Preca are clearly not on ‘Labour in labour’s agenda, the owners are slowly but steadily steering for a course heading to a Bartolo-Muscat or Muscat-Bartolo ticket. If I had to put my money on it, I would say that of the latter two options this blog will finally tell us (say about a week before the 5th June election) to vote Bartolo for leader and Muscat for one of the deputy leaders.

    Did you notice how many commentators regularly mention other potential candidates for deputy leader? I certainly recall reading Helena Dalli’s name, Gavin Gulia, Joe Vella Bonnici. That’s because they need two names for deputy leader (there are two posts as most of you will know, one for party affairs and one for parliamentary affairs) and so far, if I am right, they only have one.

    And now back to the unbelievable Harloc! I suspect he is an invention of the editor of this blog because the quality of his writing is so poor … not only his grammar, syntax and spelling but also the logical construction of his arguments, they are often mere strings of non sequiturs…and because some of the things he says are so preposterous that they couldn’t possibly be serious!

    Take this business about ‘palace revolutions’! The Caretaker (what a quaint choice of word but obviously selected for its semblance of humility) taunts Harloc by accusing him of wanting merely a ‘palace revolution’ in Hamrun’s red palace. Harloc swallows bait and hook (and what a hook) and replies that yes, that is exactly what he wants. What else should one want, he asks!

    Now, anybody with even a five cents’ (of a Euro, of course) worth of political culture in his pocket knows that ‘palace revolution’ is the term used to distinguish political changes which are limited to a small elite at the top (many military coups d’etat are of this sort) in which a handful of generals or politicians replace another handful without any real impact on that country’s social and political systems.

    With a revolution that is limited to the ‘palace’, everything remains exactly the same. Harloc in fact says that he wants the present clique of incompetent bums to be replaced with Mintoffian leftists. As for the rest, such as the unimportant question of what we stand for and what difference we will make when in government…well, that can wait, says Harloc the wise.

    Don’t tell me, honourable Caretaker, that Harloc is not purely and simply an invention of yours! Don’t tell that his ‘mission’ is not to discredit the supporters of Dr. Abela and present them as dummies! Come on!

    Ramloc a.k.a. Guardian of the Secrets of the Galaxy of Roubla!

    [Caretaker’s note: yes, you’ve guessed, we have no idea who this guy or lady is but you must admit he/she’s got spunk and, in any case, that’s entertainment for you folks! So, we’ve made another exception and published a comment by someone who will not disclose his identity even to the editor. Now, it’s true we love Harloc and that we will defend his right to say whatever he likes (even when he criticises me) but I and my colleagues hereby assure you that Harloc is for real! He really exists somewhere out there, perhaps in the furthest and darkest reaches of the Galaxy of Roubla (Roubla? Anagram of Labour?). Harloc, darling, please agree with us, at least on this! Please save our honour!]

  41. maria vella said

    Dear Mr Cassar,
    on further reflection I realise that you are right on all counts.

    Maria Vella

    p.s. With friends like you, Dr Abela certainly does not need enemies.

  42. danny attard said

    Dear Harloc,

    if we are not rowing in the same direction, than perhaps you should start rowing in ‘our’ direction. Or would you perhaps prefer that we row in your direction? If you keep to the rowing analogy, you come to the editor’s point of view: this should not be a clash for power but a contrast of ideas. It is unfortunate that you look upon debate as confusion. Debate is in fact the essence of progress.

    May I take this opportunity to say well done to Leli ta’ Ħaż-Żgħir (no 39). To me that is a prime example as to how one may reach out with open arms, an excellent endorsement of MLCP. Prosit!

    Danny Attard

  43. danny attard said

    Harloc, it’s me again.

    I must sincerely apologise for stating that you look upon debate as being confusion. I came to this opinion as I saw your comment: the Caretaker may create a blog for each of the contenders… as being a snide remark. On further reflection I feel that this is indeed a recommendation that I endorse. Editors will probably have their hands full but they may kindly consider and decide accordingly. It has its downsides as it may result in a terrible spin but it should be a brave move that should work well if we all keep our eyes on the ball and resist spin.

    Re: Ramloc comments, I would not take it to heart. There are those who take to conspiracy theories as calves take to their mother’s nipples…just take it in your stride my friend.

    Danny Attard


    Dear Danny and Harloc,
    thanks for your suggestion. The idea of at least five separate spaces in ‘Labour in labour’, where each candidate or his supporters are allowed to post material by/about each of the candidates appeals to us. This material could consist of statements, photos, interviews…anything approved by the candidate and, if already published elsewhere, accompanied by the original publisher’s kind permission to reproduce in ‘Labour in labour’.

    It will not, of course, be easy to administer this. For example how will the Take Carer know that the material posted by supporters of the candidate is in fact authorised for publication in our blog by the candidate himself or herself. As Danny concedes, the danger of being taken over by spin magicians is very high. Ok, we’ll think about it and, as soon as possible, tell you what we have decided. Meanwhile you tell us what you think?
    The Caretaker]

  44. danny attard said

    Hello there – thanks for consideration.

    Harlock’s idea is the following – maybe the Caretaker could create a blog for each of the contenders so that everyone may say his opinion and reply to what others say on each of them.

    Each blog must be your own and not that of each candidate. Such blog would discuss the merits and demerits in a civilized manner, punto e basta. Eg, if I think that George Abela has experience in the field of negotiation etc I will include that under Abela’s blog as would negative comments like the oft repeated one about how he left us in the lurch etc. I do not see such blogs having a direct input from candidates. You can perhaps provide an initial posting sticking to basic facts derived from quotes.

    That is how I see it. Harloc may have his own views.

    Danny Attard

  45. harloc said

    Hi to all and wow.

    Yes wow for the amount of comments I have received. Wow for Ramloc’s comments and for all the mud he has been throwing at me. About him, I can only say that he should have used a more original nick and not spin mine with a little slang to ridicule it. As regards to my English I am a Maltese person and English is my second language and not the only one. I am a person that lived all the seventies as a child and was in my late teens during the 80s. At our time jobs were scarce unless with the Government or parastatal companies. The only sweets one could find were those manufactured locally. And most of us did not have an opportunity to go to university. I am curious to know what educational background Ramloc has. I bet it is of the same level of the Caretaker.

    I understand that my Englsih is a bit scarce, but I am happy that you did not comment negatively my arguments and ideas. Maybe because what I have said makes some sense and there is not much you can say against it.

    To repeat what I have said many times, what I would like to see here is that if this blog is about the leadership contest, it should focus around the issue and the contenders without differentiating between them. Furthermore it should not try to indirectly convince others that JM is the best and only contender. Please Caretaker and Ramloc……be neutral as you are doing more harm than good for the sake of JM.

    To conclude, I must confess that I am hard-working middle-class worker without any secure future for my children. I am not sure whether I will have any children’s allowance next year, whether my children will have free education up to university level. I am not sure whether they will find a job when they grow up . I am not sure whether tomorrow I will still have my job and not sure whether I will have the possibility that one day I will retire after I would have contribute to society most of my life. This is the reality of most of the local population. These are the reasons why I have voted labour for the last 7 times. And that is why I expect a clean up of the people that have again made the Party lose the general election and removed from our future the peace of mind a labour goverment would have brought around for the worker, the family and all Maltese.


    PS Thanks Danny for your comments regarding my idea. But I did not understand to whom you were addressing your comment on Ramloc’s contribution.


  46. danny attard said

    In my last comment I stated : I do not see such blogs having a direct input from candidates.

    Of course candidates could come in to put over their view or provide clarifications or info in reaction to any comment etc. I think this is obvious but it is better that it be stated 🙂

    Thanks and cheers,

    Danny Attard

  47. Joe Vella said

    Can someone explain to me the difference between a consultant and an adviser. George Abela was asked about the consultant bit with Dr Fenech Adami on Sunday at the regatta Club. He answered that he was an adviser and not a consultant. Honestly, what is the difference? If Dr George Abela regrets his advising position with the former Prime Minister and present President, welcome back, but if not, how can I vote for him? Please note that I am not a delegate and neither a paid-up MLP member. As for all the other contestants, they are all welcome. May the best one win!

    Joe Vella

  48. Jeanette Borg Abela said

    You know from my previous comments that the environment is high on my agenda and that I am very eager that we should have a leader that attracts the vote of those like me. I believe that, apart from the Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando aberration, an increasing number of Maltese and Gozitans, especially the younger ones, care deeply for our natural heritage. Remember that the chap was elected on two districts not because we Maltese don’t give a damn about the environment but because Labour lacked the credibility to convince a sufficient number of citizens that the guy was excessively economical with the truth! So what’s my point. I read in Malta Today Midweek ( that “Abela, Stafrace & Associates – the legal firm in which Abela is a partner – carried out the bulk of MEPA’s caseload in the past years”. Given MEPA’s reputation, how would this impact on Labour’s image with those who care for the environment?

    Jeanette Borg Abela

  49. Marie Abdilla said


    I think it would be a good idea to have a blog for each contender where WE, the general bloggers, could post comments, questions and thoughts re each contender – negative and positive. If the contenders want to comment they would have to comment in their own name just like every one of us.

    Joe Vella posed a good question – c’mon Dr. Abela tista tilghab ghall-gallerija kemm trid. Tghid,”jien kont konsulent ta’ Prim Ministru wieħed biss, Alfred Sant” biex xi erba’ hbieb tieghek joqghodu jiggustawk u jcapcpulek imma mhux kulhadd se jiblahha! This is the second time in so many days that Dr. Abela played around with words. Konsulent jew advisor – mhux xorta! Sieheb tal-loghob bil-kliem ta’ Dr. Abela rigward l-Ezekuttiv fejn kulhadd accetta li l-Partit kellu jmur ghall-elezzjoni. Meta sfidah George Vella li decizjoni kienet unanima ghax hadd ma gholla jdejh waqt l-Ezekutiv, Abela gi b’hafna loghob bil-kliem. Hawn mhux fil-qorti qeghdin Dottore. Ir-retorika ghal hemm halliha ghax mhux se tbellalna ross bil-labbra.

    Marie Abdilla

  50. Marie Abdilla said

    Evarist Bartolo was on Reporter with Saviour Balzan this evening. Once again I was impressed. The more I see of this guy the better he comes across…. poised, calm, a hint of humour, straight to the point, humbled by his mistakes and forward looking. Definitely leadership stuff.

    Marie Abdilla

  51. Ludmilla Zammit said

    Hi all! I haven’t been around for a while but I am glad to see you didn’t hybernate in my absence.
    I suppose some of you will remember me suggesting that perhaps we Maltese are deep down in our souls all “daphnecaruanagalizias”.
    Well now that I have read Harloc’s views on Joseph Muscat, I am more than ever convinced that there is some truth in my suggestion. Harloc wrote “please do not tell me that you cannot call JM a bighead when he speaks of when he will be Prime Minister”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Twerp, bighead, poodle…

    Ludmilla Zammit

  52. Tessa said

    Harloc advises Joe Muscat that “he will have to get rid of the people that are pushing him and then maybe he will be a good leader”. Where is Harloc living? Labour headquarters is dominated by Michael Falzon’s people, first and foremost the electoral office. They are certainly NOT pushing Joe for the top job. Why would they? Without Michael they would be lost and powerless. Harloc, we agree with you that things must change in Hamrun. That is why we are supporting Joseph’s bid for leader. The only ones that have anything to fear from his election are those that fear change in Hamrun.

    Tessa (Author’s real name known to the Caretaker)

  53. Green Militant said

    This is my second time here. I wrote comment No. 63 of 30.3.2008 to the post “A lively and healthy debate within and around the Party”. If you go back to that comment and read it, you will appreciate today’s comment more. Many of us who have been faithful to the green vision of Alternativa over the years and who are now convinced, painfully convinced, that the only way we can ever hope to see our ideal of a country where the environment is given top priority, is for the Labour Party to take up the environmental cause with the same enthusiasm as we did. If only the Labour Party were to give us the right signals – basically that it will take up this cause without fear of antagonising powerful speculators – then we will join it. Remember that apart from those that voted Alternativa there are those that feel close to it but were convinced that it had no chance of even one seat in Parliament and voted for the Nationalists because they were not inspired by Labour. There ng>are also those Nationalists who would not have voted for yet another nationalist government had they believed that Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando was really a spinner. Now they know. If we join Labour and motivate our decision, many of these will follow us. We will not do so if either Michael Falzon or George Abela becomes leader. We may or may not do it if Marie Louise Coleiro becomes leader. We will join if either Joseph Muscat of Evarist Bartolo becomes leader. Both of the last two are acceptable to us. Since many of us are young, Joseph is our favourite but we have great respect for Evarist. If we could could choose (we cannot yet) we would choose a combination of both.

    Green Militant (Author’s name known to Caretaker)

  54. anthony caruana said

    Dear Tessa

    Joseph’s campaigners don’t have to be lodged in Hamrun. In fact it would be stupid to work from the headquarters because, as you say the hqs are ‘dominated by….” You are right in saying that without Michael certain people will be lost and powerless and the same applies to people who, finding themselves powerless because the leader resigned, they want to replace him with someone they approve of, that is why we are in the situation we are in today: basically the Michael camp vs the ex-leader’s camp.

    Anthony Caruana

  55. Rita Borg said

    Jiena naqbel ma Leli ta’ Haz-Zghir. Marie Louise hija l-ahjar ghazla li nistaghaw naghmlu biex jkollna lider b’qalb li thenn ghalina il-haddiema. Hawnhekk donnu hawn kukanja ta’ nies naqra tal-pepe (kif nghidu ahna in-naha taghna), studenti, professionisti u ghalliema. Mela dawn in-nies biss jezistu f’Malta? Insejnihom il-haddiema li bnew il-partit? Marie-Louise, jew Marie kif nghajtulha ahna, tkun mexxej verament socjalista-qalb thabbat man-nies komuni li ghandhom problemi ta’ kuljum, li tifimna u tghadirna izda li ma tibzax tghid dak li tahseb. Zgur li tkun kapaci li tggieled in-Nazzionalisti u tirbah. Forza Marie, ahna lkoll warajk!

    Rita Borg

  56. danny attard said

    Hi HARLOC, re your comment: PS Thanks Danny for your comments regarding my idea. But I did not understand to whom you were addressing your comment on Ramloc’s contribution…I was here referring to the ‘mud’ that RAMLOC threw in your direction and i was suggesting that you should not take much notice because i find ramloc’s contribution to be based on the most unlikely of conspiracy theories while his reference to your style of english I found to be so out-of-order, snobbish and distasteful. You have however given him an excellent reply and for that i am truly happy.

    Re GREEN MILITANT: Hi there. The Labour Party is a big party encompassing a range of views and interests. I can assure you that it is very dynamic and living in the real world. It is also subject to on-going influences that seep subtly through the efforts of different lobby groups, some really formidable like the big-time property developers or the non-secular. You may perhaps appreciate that while these two groups among others may have a finger in the Labour Party cosmos of ideas, their presence is there to underwrite their interests in case the Party is asked to govern. Their true base is within the party in government. I can assure you that there are also green militants within the labour party and you must come over to join us in this on going tug-of-war that is the real world dynamic.

    Danny Attard

  57. The Dream Girls said

    Like the previous commentator – 55 – we also think that our best bet for a good leader is Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. She strikes us as being clever and capable of administering, as her performance in the top general secretary position demonstrated. Most of all she is not ashamed of being marked or called a socialist, (“I’m not ashamed of my political past”) and indeed even affirms it with pride when confronted with it (see the Sunday Times, April 6th). It is about time that we have people like her to lead the party and give it its identity back. Lately we seem to have turned into a very pale shade of pink and it is not what we true-blood Labourites want! We do not identify with the neither here nor there sort of ideas fashionable today. They are not our working class values. Like MLCP we are proud of being Labourites and “we need to explain who we are and what we believe in to those out there who do not really understand”, as she declared in the same interview mentioned above. Another thing that really impressed us in what she says is that she is ready to be put under constant evaluation on both an organisational level and a personal level. That shows humbleness and confidence, both marks of a great leader. We share the columnist’s views when he writes that the candidature of a woman for top post of a political party is really “a progressive break on Malta’s male-dominated political landscape” and this is why we cannot help supporting MLCP. You are all of us Marie-Louise!

    The Dream Girls [authors’ names known to Caretaker]

  58. Maria Vella said

    Hello Dream Girls. Well done for your contribution. I must confess an affinity with MLCP and admire her honesty, energy and loyalty. She is indeed a major asset for the party and her popular support is testimony to the hard work she puts in among the electorate on a day by day basis. Well done Marie Louise.

    There are two points about which I would love to have your reactions:

    1. How may the way they are influencing her image at the time she was secretary general impact on her potential leadership role? I have no doubt that ML is very principled, yet when one sees how sections of the media managed to distort so massively MLP’s stance on Europe, I shudder to think what they will do in ML’s case.

    2. Do you think that moving forward with a full-blooded socialist call is the best strategy? Perhaps you may want to comment on ‘Identity and social democratic values’ posted on April 5. MLCP certainly offers an alternative and it will be just brilliant, in my opinion, if we were to discuss the issue of bold-red and pink etc within the context of maltese society, at a time when even the poor salesgirl employed for a pittance by some hamburger joint does not want to be associated with the label of ‘worker’.

    Having said that I do see at this stage ML in one of the deputy roles where the glare will be less pronounced and where honest true red colours can be well represented at leadership level.

    Look forward to your views.

    Maria Vella

  59. harloc said

    Tessa, oh come on. What are you saying? I think you should update yourself a bit more. It could be that Michael Falzon’s people are all at the electoral office. But that is it. But the most important positions are in the hands of AS people such as The Deputy Leader for Parliament, Secretary General and all the media high positions. At least these are the ones I am sure of. The influence of the electoral office is nothing compared to the latter.

    Danny you are have been added to my good books and would be happy should you want to correspond personally with me just let me know. I think that we all here should be friends in the interest of the party.

    I would like to add a comments on MLCP. I think she was one of the best shadow ministers and always replied on her subject intelligently. In the various programs she attended she always brought forward real matters and made good observations especially as the regard of the ‘poor’ people in Malta. Unfortunatley I cannot say the same in her interview in Dissett. To say the truth I was disappointed. She reacted as a normal Labourite will do and react from the heart without thinking. This is the trap that we Labourites normally fall into…we decide from the heart and not use our heads to decide. And that is one thing that makes the PN slightly superior. Hope that the party manages to instill this with the new leader.

    BC (aka Harloc)

  60. Tazebao Caretaker said



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