Labour in labour

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

Games contestants play.

Posted by fcb on April 18, 2008

Negotiations in tents, French, 14th century, Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale

Negotiations in tents, French, 14th century, Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale

 

Parallel to the canvassing by each and every one of the five contestants (Abela, Bartolo, Coleiro Preca, Falzon and Muscat) there is another activity going on, less visible to the naked eye but not less important. Most of the candidates will also be communicating with each other, mostly through intermediaries. The aim of these ‘negotiations’ is to explore various possible  alliances.

There will be candidates who resort to bluff. The dynamics of the bluffing game are roughly as follows: the effectively weaker party will generally bluff and invite an effectively stronger competitor to step aside and not contest for the top job in exchange for support to win one of the two deputy leader posts. Poker players will understand this best.

There will be candidates who will appeal to a higher good than the interest of the two or three individuals in the round of negotiations. The higher good is the Party and an even higher one is the Country. The argument goes like this: let’s go the delegates as a team and thus avoid unnecessary internal strife. This is a variant on the ‘show of unity’ theme. In any case, it requires one or two of the contestants to give way to another competitor and to refrain from contesting for the top post. It also requires those candidates that are not party of the agreement, to be excluded from the leadership.

There will be candidates who will consider the option of not contesting not because they are objectively weaker than the others or because they have succumbed to another candidate’s bluff, but because they feel that another candidate with less chances of being elected leader stands a better chance of leading the party to victory in general elections. Here again one or more of the contestants may try to bluff his/her way into pole position by conceding that the other competitor stands a better chance of being elected leader but he/she is more likely to win the general elections.

There will be those candidates who refuse to enter into such alliances if and when these are proposed to them. We would expect the candidate who feels reasonably certain of having a majority of delegates (or party members) on his/her side and is convinced of having the right qualities to convince a majority of voters to choose Labour at the next general elections, to call what he/she believes is a competitor’s bluff. “There are moreover”, he/she will reflect, “at least three to five years before the next general elections during which I can organise and motivate this party, and lead it to victory”.

No reason why there may not be more than one candidate who harbors such a conviction. If there is more than one candidate who is objectively in a position to win the leadership election as well as the general election whenever this may be called, that is altogether another matter. Having said this, whoever is elected leader will do a terrible mistake if he/she excludes anyone who will have contested this election from positions of significance and trust. A party divided will not convince a majority of citizens that it has more to offer than a government that, in 2013, will have been in power for almost a quarter of a century.

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47 Responses to “Games contestants play.”

  1. Tazebao Caretaker said

    DEAR READERS, ALTHOUGH YOU ARE PERFECTLY FREE AND WELCOME TO PASTE YOUR COMMENTS ON ANY SECTION OF OUR VIRTUAL TAZEBAO, MAY WE SUGGEST THAT YOU DO SO IN THE SPACE PROVIDED UNDER THE LATEST POST “A bow in the cloud: unity, diversity and the Movement”. WE ARE ASKING THIS OF YOU BECAUSE WE WOULD LIKE TO CHANNEL THE NEW COMMENTS IN ONE SECTION FOR EASY READING AND CROSS-REFERENCE. YOU ARE NOT, OF COURSE, LIMITED TO THE THEME OF THE POST BELOW WHICH YOU LEAVE YOUR COMMENT, AS LONG AS IT IS IN SOME WAY RELEVANT TO THE ISSUE OF THE CHOICE OF A NEW LEADER.

    THANK YOU

    THE CARETAKER

  2. L Caruana said

    Now that probably all those interested to contest the leadership post have declared their interest, it would be more than appropriate that the election of the party leader be brought forward, so that by the time parliament opens the new leader will be present from the first day.

    If the majority of the contestants agree to this, let’s move the date forward.

    L. Caruana

  3. Il-Kuġin ta’ Robi t’Arras said

    Issa li d-djalogu ġmielu għaddej dwar il-ħatra tal-mexxej ġdid għal Partit Laburista inħoss li, bħala tesserat fil-Partit Laburista, jien ukoll għandi naqsam magħkom dawn il-ħsibijiet umli tiegħi.

    Għaliex id-Diskussjoni?
    Hu fatt magħruf li d-diskussjoni u n-nuqqas ta’ ftehim imorru flimkien f’demokrazija. Jekk jiġi analiżżat u mqabbel dak li sar fil-kamp oppost meta nħatar Dr. Lawrence Gonzi bħala Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista wieħed mill-ewwel jikkonkludi li dak li qed iseħħ fil-kamp Laburista bħalissa huwa duwa tal-Madalena.

    Il-punt tat-tluq tad-diskussjoni jrid ikun dwar il-futur tal-Partit u tagħna bħala Maltin. Bħalissa r-rabja forsi tiddetta li jitqaċċat dak jew ’l ieħor. Li jitpoġġa dak u jitwarrab l-ieħor. Bħallikieku mhux kulħadd kellu u għad għandu kwalitajiet, intenzjonijiet u ideat tajbin x’joffri. Il-korla ta’ xi wħud forsi nistgħu niġġustifikawha għax nafu li din hi ġejja sforz ta’ kemm jixtiequ jaraw lill-Partit jissokta fit-triq it-tajba. Li jkun fit-treġija ta’ pajjiżna kif tant jistħoqqlu. B’danakollu r-rabja tad-diżappunt ma tistax titħalla ċċajpar l-imħuħ, l-għażliet li jridu jittieħdu. Il-futur tal-Partit irid ikun ibbażat ukoll fuq l-għaqda ta’ bejn kulħadd – li ma għaqda ġabet tant prosperità lill-ħaddiem Malti fil-passat. Jista’ jkun li l-Partit qatt ma ta’ każ tal-Proverbju Għarbi: “Meta tispara l-vleġġa tal-verità għaddsilha l-ponta tagħha fl-għasel.” Il-vleġġa laburista setgħet beżżgħet biss lil min bexkel u lil min żarma mhux biss il-kaxxa ta’ Malta iżda saħansitra r-ruħ Maltija. Minn dawn ta’ l-aħħar m’hawnx ħafna…Iżda s-saħħa tagħhom affettwat żgur fuq li żgur ir-riżultat elettorali ta’ Marzu li għadda.

    Restawr jew Bidla mill-Qiegħ?
    Fi żminijiet bħal dawn jispuntaw f’moħħna diversi mistoqsijiet: Għaliex il-bidla meta kellna tmexxija daqstant kompetenti, onesta u sinċiera? Inkunu għaqlin jekk inħallu l-istrutturi fil-Partit Laburista jaħdmu kif inhuma bħalissa? Restawr jeħtieġ li jsir jew bidla mill-qiegħ?

    Jekk inħarsu ftit ’il hinn lejn l-istorja reċenti tal-Partit Laburista nintebħu li l-aħħar bidla kbira kienet seħħet fl-1992 wara r-riżenja ta’ Dr. Karmenu Mifsud Bonniċi minn leader tal-MLP. Għalhekk issa hija inevitabbli għall-Partit Laburista li jkollu bidla ohra mill-qiegħ fl-istrutturi kollha tiegħu. Inutli wkoll li jinbidel ir-ragħaj u tibqa’ l-istess merħla. Il-ġenerazzjoni ta’ Alfred Sant fil-Partit Laburista għal bosta raġunijiet ma tħallietx fit-tmexxija ta’ pajjiżna. Neħtieġu għalhekk bidla radikali fil-mentalità. Bidla anki f’dik li hi età (ġenerazzjoni) tal-mexxej il-ġdid li, kif kiteb eks-Ministru Laburista fis-Sunday Times ta’ ftit ġimgħat ilu, irid ikun kariżmatiku u jkollu kredenzjali qawwija ewropej.

    Wara Dr. Alfred Sant
    Niftakru fi kliem Bejamin Disraeli: “It is easier to be critical than to be correct”. Il-merti ta’ Dr. Sant fix-xenarju politiku Malti kontemporanju għad iridu jiġu mistħarrġa mill-istoriċi ta’ pajjiżna. Kien onest, sinċier u integru għal mod ta’ kif mexxa. Ħafna kienu li ma rawhx b’għajn tajba u kkritikawh fil-magħluq u fil-miftuħ. Nemmen li bata għax, bħall-mexxej soċjalista ta’ qablu, l-abjad kien jgħidlu abjad u l-iswed iswed.

    Issa dawk li ser jivvotaw għall-mexxej il-ġdid jeħtieġ li jsejsu l-aspirazzjonijiet u l-fiduċja tagħhom f’mexxej b’viżjoni żagħżugħa b’viżjoni enerġika li kapaċi terġa’ tagħmel lill-Partit Laburista bħala l-Partit tal-maġġoranza. F’mexxej li jkun kapaċi jmexxi ’l quddiem il-kawża tal-ħaddiem (professionist u mhux, student jew self-employed) Malti fi żminijiet kemxejn iebsa għal kulħadd. Il-fiduċja f’mexxej ma tiġix mix-xejn. Ma tinbeniex fl-aħħar xahar ta’ l-elezzjoni. Tiġi mill-kreddibiltà u l-istima li jgawdi anki fost l-avversarji. Tiġi mill-esperjeza megħjuxa u miksuba mal-poplu li, mingħajru, l-ebda elezzjoni ma tintrebaħ.

    Il-Kuġin ta’ Robi t’Arras (Author’s name known to Caretaker)

  4. Marie Abdilla said

    Just loved “Games contestants play”. Was just thinking about saying something on our blog on those lines after I heard the first news item on PBS yesterday but you beat me to it fcb. Fell down laughing. My oh my the GA clan are getting desperate! Starting rumours, that Joseph will not contest for leader. Moreover, since when does a National station have for its first news item a totally unfounded piece based on rumours. Dan x’stazzjon nazzjonali hu? Nuqqas ta’ serjeta? Hidden agendas? Tahlita tat-tnejn? Imma malajr poggihom f’posthom Joseph confirming that it was a totally unfounded rumour. Great press conference Joseph gave. I’ve just checked out some of the 40 points in his programme and they are very interesting and innovative.

    Marie Abdilla

  5. Lupus in fabula said

    Writing in his Sunday Times weekly column on March 23, Lino Spiteri said he hoped “that some so-called Labourites will not take their poison pen out of its hiding place during the campaign.

    “Vicious anonymous letters have been used too often over the past two decades – and here I am not referring mainly to the poison liberally poured out in my regard in 1992. There were quite a few other despicable examples, honed against individuals who are not impregnable in the face of unlimited viciousness.” (quoted from http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080323/local/muscat-ready-to-launch-bid ).

    Well, now we seem to have a new trend starting. The national television station (nothing less!) broadcast a blatantly unfounded rumour that Joseph Muscat was giving up his bid for the top job and settling for a compromise with George Abela. Muscat denied this immediately and came bouncing back with a punchy programme of practical measure to reform the Labour Party’s management, communications and outreach machinery! But that’s besides the point! Is nobody at TVM going to apologise or at least explain what really happened? Is TVM now going to intervene in the campaign for Labour’s leadership as soon as someone in its newsroom sniffs a rumour about a front runner? Or is it a case of the poison pen again coming out of its hiding? Yes, Lino was evidently right to warn us! Clearly someone is not happy that Joseph Muscat who (I quote from Lino’s sketch of the ideal candidate) has “good European credentials, acquired by conviction, ability to unite and mobilise, plus a good dose of charisma” stands a good chance to become Labour’s next leader. What’s worse however, is that this unhappy character evidently has the carefully tuned-in ear of someone in TVM’s newsroom.

    Lupus in fabula (Author’s name known to Caretaker)

  6. Ghalfejn tilef il-Partit Laburista?

    L-isfond

    Taht it-tmexxija ta’ Alfred Sant, il-Partit Laburista fetah idejh ghall-ekonomija tas-suq hieles fi hdan sfond socjal-demokratiku. Il-Partit Laburista beda jemfasizza l-importanza tas-settur privat bhala mutur ta’ l-ekonomija, liema settur privat kien assenti f’oqsma varji taht Gvernijiet Laburisti fis-sebghinijiet u fit-tmeninijiet, izda li kien prezenti sew taht amministrazzjonijiet Nazzjonalisti sussegwenti. Izda l-Partit Laburista taht Sant baqa’ jemfasizza principji materjali bhall-tkabbir ekonomiku industrijali u welfare state b’sahhtu.

    Taht Sant, il-Partit Laburista ipprova wkoll jinkorpora l-klassi tan-nofs fl-istrategiji tieghu. Fl-elezzjoni tal-1996, din l-istrategija hadmet, fejn il-Partit Laburista ipprogetta lilu nnifsu bhala partit modern u moderat u bhala partit ghac-cittadini kollha. F’dan il-kuntest, il-Partit Laburista ma’ baqax ‘mizzewweg’ mal-General Workers Union, izda r-relazzjoni bejn dawn iz-zewg pilastri tal-moviment tal-haddiema baqghet wahda b’sahhitha.

    Il-Gvern Laburista ta’ bejn 1996 u 1998 ma rrnexxilux ikun wiehed egemoniku, specjalment ma’ dawk li kienu mdorrijin jghixu f’socjeta’ relattivament komda u stabbli. Il-mizuri ta’ awsterita’ li ha l-Gvern Laburista biex itaffi ghad-deficit massiv li wiret aljenaw bosta votanti mill-klassi tal-haddiema u mis-self-employed. Il-kwistjoni Dom Mintoff ma ghenet xejn f’dan il-kuntest.

    Bejn l-1998 u l-2003, il-Partit Laburista oppona d-dhul ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea, u pprogetta lilu nnifsu bhala t-tarka tal-haddiem u ta’ l-interess nazzjonali. Il-proposta Laburista tal-‘Partnership’ ma rebhietx l-imhuh tal-maggoranza tal-Maltin, specjalment fost dawk li gejjin minn kategoriji varji tal-klassi tan-nofs u taz-zghazagh. Sadanittant, permezz ta’ l-UE, il-Partit Nazzjonalista kellu progett egemoniku li rega’ wassal ghal rebha elettorali ohra.

    Wara t-telfa elettorali tal-2003, jidher li l-Partit Laburista ipprova juza strategija inklussiva bhal tal-1996. Apparti Alfred Sant, sar tibdil shih fit-tmexxija. Fil-kampanja elettorali ghall-elezzjoni tal-2008 il-Partit Laburista emfasizza l-htiega ghall-bidla wara kwazi 20 sena ta’ Gvernijiet Nazzjonalisti. Il-Partit emfasizza l-valuri tax-xoghol, harsien u dinjita’, fejn emfasizza valuri materjali bhall-gholi tal-hajja liema valuri jinsabu quddiem nett fl-aspirazzjonijiet tal-Maltin, hekk kif jixhdu studji socjologici differenti. Il-Partit Laburista emfasizza wkoll il-htiega ta’ tmexxija serja u nadifa, u l-htiega li l-interess nazzjonali jigi difiz fi hdan l-Unjoni Ewropea. Izda ghal darba ohra il-Partit Laburista ma rnexxilux jerbah, b’telfa minima ta’ 1,580 vot. Alfred Sant irrizenja b’mod irrevokabbli wara din it-telfa.

    Ragunijiet tat-Telfa

    X’kienu r-ragunijiet ewlenin li wasslu ghal telfa Laburista fl-2008?

    Alfred Sant

    Alfred Sant ghandu bosta merti fil-Partit Laburista. Naddaf lill-Partit mill-elementi vjolenti, dahhal ideat godda fil-partit u fl-ahhar elezzjoni wettaq kampanja civili u onesta. Izda fl-istess hin, taht it-tmexxija ta’ Sant, intilfu bosta attivisti validi mill-Partit Laburista. Ghall-kuntrarju tal-1996, Sant fl-2008 ma rnexxilux jirbah l-appogg ta’ setturi varji tal-media indipendenti u tas-socjeta’ civili. Irrispettivament mill-verita’, bosta votanti baqghu bl-idea li ‘ma tistax tafdah’ u li hu kontra l-Unjoni Ewropea. Fuq kollox, f’ghajnejn bosta Maltin, Sant deher nieqes mill-karizma ta’ l-avversarju ewlieni tieghu, Lawrence Gonzi, u deher ukoll inkonsistenti minhabba u-turns f’kwistjonijiet varji. Jiidher ukoll li Sant ma kellux backing professjonali u sofistikat tajjeb daqs dak li kellu Lawrence Gonzi.

    Il-Klassi tal-Hadddiema

    Il-Partit Laburista ghamel sew li emfasizza kwistjonijiet bhall-gholi tal-hajja, il-housing u x-xoghol prekarju, liema kwistjonijiet jolqtu fil-laham il-haj lill-bosta haddiema. Fl-istess hin, izda, il-Partit Laburista ma kienx car fil-proposta tieghu tas-surcharge, u l-proposta dwar it-tnehhija tat-taxxi fuq l-overtime qajmet bosta dubji, inkluz fost haddiema li jappoggjaw lill-Partit Nazzjonalista. Jidher b’mod car li l-Partit Laburista jgawdi l-ikbar appogg mill-klassi tal-haddiema, izda fl-istess hin il-Partit ghandu jifhem ahjar li fi hdan din il-klassi hemm gruppi u kategoriji differenti li mhux bilfors ghandhom l-istess kundizzjonijiet ta’ xoghol jew aspirazzjonijiet. U mhux il-haddiema kollha jidentifikaw mal-General Workers’ Union, minkejja ix-xoghol kbir u ammirevoli li taghmel din il-union ghall-klassi tal-haddiema.

    Il-Klass tan-Nofs

    Bhal m’hu l-kaz fil-klassi tal-haddiema, jezistu bosta gruppi u kategoriji fil-klassi tan-nofs. Dawn jinkludu fost ohrajn is-self-employed, il-professjonisti u l-haddiema amministrattivi, liema kategoriji minn daqqiet ikunu iktar vicin il-klassi tal-haddiema u minn daqqiet ikunu iktar vicin il-klassijiet dominanti. Jista’ jkun li bosta persuni f’dawn il-kategoriji varji kellhom aspirazzjonijiet iktar gholja u specifici minn dawk li pprogetta l-Partit Laburista. Fost kategoriji ‘godda’ fi hdan il-klassi tan-nofs jezistu aspirazzjonijiet ‘post-materjalisti’ f’kwistjonijiet bhall-ambjent u l-espressjoni individwali, liema aspirazzjonijiet ma tantx inghataw importanza mill-Partit Laburista.

    Iz-Zghazagh

    Il-vot taz-zghazagh huwa fattur ewlieni li jista’ jiddetermina elezzjoni generali. Iz-zghazagh, filwaqt li huma grupp distint, fl-istess hin huma karatterizzati minn differenzi minhabba l-klassi socjali, sess, twemmin politiku, mod ta’ l-ghixien, livell edukattiv u fatturi ohra. Il-Partit Laburista ma rnexxilux ikun vicin l-aspirazzjonijiet ta’ bosta zghazagh, kemm minhabba l-eku ta’ kwisjtonijiet bhas-shubija fl-UE, kif ukoll minhabba li kien kwazi assenti ghall-kollox mill-media li tattira liz-zghazagh bhall-internet. Minkejja li l-Partit qajjem xi kwistjonijiet li jaffettwaw liz-zghazagh, xorta wahda ma rnexxilux iwassal il-proposti tieghu sew. Il-fatt li xi proposti kienu vagi ma tantx ghenet f’dan ir-rigward. Fattur iehor hu li l-Partit Laburista ma rnexxilux ipingi vizjoni edukattiva bl-istess mod bhal ma’ ghamel il-Partit Nazzjonalista. Il-kwistjoni ta’ l-istipendji zgur li hadmet kontra l-Partit Laburista ukoll mal-votanti zghazagh.

    Il-Floating Voters

    Huwa difficli li tghid ezattament min huma l-floating voters. Izda, jidher li l-Partit Laburista ma rnexxilux jirbah lura numru sostanzjali ta’ votanti li rebah fl-1996. L-esperjenza ta’ Gvern Laburista bejn l-1996 u l-1998 waslet biex numru ta’ votanti li taw cans lil Sant, ma regghux tawh cans fl-elessjonijiet sussegwenti.

    L-Industriji

    Il-Partit Laburista ghamilha cara li ser jaghti importanza kbira lill-industriji privati, f’oqsma bhall-manifattura u t-turizmu. Izda jidher li l-Partit Laburista ma kienx ippreparat daqs il-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-proposti tieghu, specjalment minhabba li l-Partit Nazzjonalista offra pakkett iktar ‘stabbli’ minn dak Laburista. Proposti Laburisti bhal dik ta’ l-overtime jidhru li iktar hawdu l-imhuh milli taw nifs gdid. Izda minn naha l-ohra, wiehed ma jistax jistenna li l-Partit Laburista ghandu joghgob lill-Alla u lix-xitan fl-istess hin. Partit tax-Xellug isibha ferm aktar difficli li jattira lejh lill-esponenti ta’ l-industrija, liema esponenti igawdu minn kapital ekonomiku u apparat bhall-medja biex iwasslu l-messagg taghhom.

    Is-Socjeta’ Civili

    Il-Partit Laburista ghamel sew li kkonsulta b’mod wiesgha ma’ ghaqdiet tas-socjeta’ civili fil-manifest tieghu ‘Bidu Gdid’. Izda fl-istess hin kien hemm bosta kontradizzjonijiet li urew jew arroganza minn naha tal-Partit jew inkella nuqqas ta’ gharfien strategiku fit-tnedija tal-proposti. Per ezempju, jidher li l-Partit Laburista kien maqtugh minn bosta ghaqdiet ambjentali meta baqa’ jippersisti fuq proposti tassew qerrieda bhall-dik tal-koros tal-golf. Il-Partit Laburista naqas milli jitkellem b’mod car dwar id-divorzju u minflok inheba wara dak li huwa sejjah nuqqas ta’ dibattitu pubbliku. Fl-edukazzjoni, il-Partit Laburista ghaggel wisq fil-proposta tar-reception classes u injora l-ghajta ghal edukazzjoni iktar komprensiva. Il-Partit ma weriex apprezzament lejn ix-xoghol ta’ xi ghaqdiet meta injora stediniet ghall-dibattiti, bhal m’hu l-kaz tad-dibattiti pubblici ta’ Zminijietna – Lehen ix-Xellug, fejn il-Partit naqas milli jibghat rapprezentant iktar minn darba, ghall-kuntrarju tal-Partit Nazzjonalista.

    Il-media

    Wiehed mill-ikbar problemi li kellu l-Partit Laburista hija r-relazzjoni mal-media. Ibda biex, il-media tal-Partit Laburista, minkejja li fiha tinkorpora xi esponenti b’talent kbir, fuq livell generali ma rnexxiliex tikkompeti ma’ dik indipendenti jew Nazzjonalista fil-prodott taghha, kemm fuq livell tekniku kif ukoll fuq livell ta’ kontenut. F’dak li ghandu x’jaqsam mal-media indipendenti, il-Partit Laburista kien zvantaggjat hdejn il-Partit Nazzjonalista, minhabba li dan ta’ l-ahhar inghata trattament ferm ahjar. Minkejja dan il-fatt, izda, il-Partit Laburista missu ha atitudni iktar pozittiva u mhux, per ezempju, li irrifjuta li jippartecipa f’xi programmi televizivi. Barra min hekk, il-Partit Laburista kellu ghodod li fihom seta jikkompeti ferm ahjar – bhall-internet, izda m’uzax bizzejjed din il-facilita’.

    Wisq negattiv, wisq kunfidenti

    Fatturi ohra li ma ghenux biex il-Partit Laburista jirbah l-elezzjoni kienu li l-Partit Laburista kellu strategija ibbazata wisq fuq ‘negative campaigning’ – jigifieri, li jattakka l-ghadu, fl-ahhar gimghat qabel l-elezzjoni. Il-Partit ghazel li jiffoka wisq fuq il-koruzzjoni izda fl-istess hin ma mbutax il-proposti tieghu bizzejjed, u spicca biex waqa’ fin-nassa strategika Nazzjonalista fejn iddiskuta biss proposti bhar-reception class u pprova jiddefendi zbalji li kellu fil-manifest tieghu stess. Il-Partit Laburista jidher li ha kollox ‘for granted’ ghas-semplici fatt li l-Partit Nazzjonalista kien ilu kwazi 20 sena fil-Gvern. Barra minn hekk, il-Partit ma wera l-ebda rimors ghal decizzjonijiet li ha li darsu lil hafna votanti fis-snin li ghaddew. Jekk xejn dan kellu jhajjar lill-MLP biex jifhem ghalfejn il-PN irnexxielu jibqa’ egemoniku, b’appogg konsistenti tal-maggoranza tal-Maltin. Izda minflok, il-Partit Laburista bata’ minn kunfidenza zejda.

    Il-futur

    X’ghandu jaghmel il-Partit Laburista biex jirbah l-elezzjoni li jmiss? Ovjament din tehtieg analizi komprensiva, izda xi affarijiet li nipproponi li ghandhom jittiehdu b’serjeta’ kbira sabiex il-Partit jimbarka fuq vjagg rebbieh u egemoniku jinkludu li l-Partit Laburista (1) jaghti importanza kbira lir-ricerka socjologika, ekonomika, ekologika u politika fost ohrajn; (2) jelegi tmexxija b’ karizma izda soda u professjonali; bi principji cari izda li lesta tilqa’ proposti kemm interni kif ukoll esterni; (3) jigi ggwidat minn principji cari li jiffokaw fuq il-gustizzja socjali, l-ugwaljanza, l-efficjenza, is-sostenibilita’, liema principji ghandhom jemfasizzaw l-importanza ta’ l-interess komuni filwaqt li jaghtu spazzju lill-individwi u l-familji differenti biex jilhqu l-aspirazzjonijiet taghhom; (4) ikun modern u progressiv izda li jirrikonoxxi r-realtajiet tradizzjonali Maltin; (5) juza diskors car u jkollu prodott komunikattiv u tal-media politika li jappella aktar ghall-aspirazzjonijiet kemm komuni u kif ukoll partikolari tal-masses; (6) ma jippruvax ikun iktar Nazzjonalist mill-Partit Nazzjonalista; (7) juri li hu Gvern alternattiv b’vizjoni cara li thares lejn ix-xellug, specjalment fid-dawl ta’ riformi neo-liberali taht Gvern Nazzjonalista li x’aktarx iwassalu ghal iktar inugwaljanza fis-socjeta’ Maltija; (8) jipprova jkun iktar proposittiv milli negattiv; (9) ma jaghmilx zbalji li facilment jistghu jigu evitati jekk it-tmexxija tkun preparata professjonalment; (10) ikun iktar inklussiv u inqas reklussiv, mat-tessarati u ma’ fazzjonijiet interni differenti; ma dissidenti u eks-Laburisti; ma nies li ma jhossuhomx affiljati ma xi Partit jew iehor, u l-ahhar u mhux l-inqas, ma ghaqdiet tas-socjeta’ civili.

    Michael Briguglio

  7. Victor Cuschieri said

    I love this blog! The topics are great and the debate is very healthy. Congratulations to all for the sane and mature input that makes this space a good place to visit.

    The games people play are many. Whatever their nature, all games are played by a set of rules. Politics has often been described as an ugly and, many times, even a dirty game and is also supposed to follow a set of rules. Unfortunately, the rules of the political game are unwritten and therefore it only stays fair and clean when its players do not resort to dirty tricks, spin or outright slander.

    One very dirty trick was played on Joseph Muscat last Friday 18, on the eve of his announced press conference to launch his plans for reforms in the Labour Party. The newsroom of our sate television PBS, run by Natalino Fenech, reported that Joseph Muscat was ready to give up the leadership race and endorse the other front-runner George Abela. A blatant lie, which was of course immediately denied by Joseph Muscat in a statement to PBS.

    A week before, Lino Spiteri, a very good friend of George Abela and an eminent supporter for his leadership claim, had already floated the idea of having George Abela as leader and Joseph Muscat as his deputy. In one of his regular opinion pieces “Spin and an Abela-Muscat winnable tandem” published in “The Times” of April 6th, Spiteri wrote:

    “So, is there no room for sense, at least for enlightened self-interest? There could be. If enough people within the MLP make my humble reading and see an easy way to plan for the next 15 to 20 years, it will be. The best ticket the MLP could have is Dr Abela as leader and Joseph Muscat as deputy leader. The tandem, sporting a sensible social-democratic platform, would have a strong chance of winning the next election, with the way then clearly mapped out for Dr Muscat to take over with some eight to 10 years added to his portfolio, which already packs a good punch”

    The PBS lie was not the first attack against Joseph Muscat. He has been called the “anointed one” and repeatedly accused of enjoying the backing of “the party machinery” as the favoured candidate in this campaign. In his interview with The Sunday Times of April 16 carried under the title, “My Obstacle Race” George Abela was reported as follows:

    “People out there are clamouring for change and yet some party officials are determined to retain the status quo. Unless our party wants to face change, we risk another electoral defeat
    Dr Abela says it appears that Joseph Muscat is already being given a helping hand to be the next anointed leader, though he makes it clear that it is probably not the MEP who was steering the strategy. “Maybe people believe that the ‘internal contest’ can be easily won with Joseph as the leader… they are interpreting a vote for Joseph as a vote to retain the status quo.”

    There flies the punch below the belt! Although George Abela qualifies his statement with the word ‘probably’, very intelligently put not to exclude the possibility – in the same breath he is telling us that a vote for Joseph is a vote for the status quo. In simple terms a play of words – yes another favourite game played by politicians – to throw a not so clean jab at Joseph.

    Former Labour Secretary General Dominic Fenech enters this game in a rather puzzling way. Long declared another George Abela promoter, Dominic Fenech was contacted by the Maltese language Sunday paper “Illum” about the PBS spin and, if you pardon the pun, his comments had many heads in a spin.

    “Illum” first contacted news editor Natalino Fenech about this story but he refused to comment. The paper asked Dominic Fenech, acting chair of PBS editorial board, if the board was going to investigate the Joseph Muscat news item of Friday 18. Fenech replied that the board was not functioning because, according to the normal practice when there is a change of minister, its members tender their resignation and added that he was not going to involve himself in this matter even if the board was functioning. But, apart from the fact that we do not know if this resignation had been accepted or not, Dominic Fenech declared that he took the news editor’s word that he (the editor) was convinced of the information he received before broadcasting the news. Therefore, Dominic Fenech did involve himself in the matter after all. At this point, the ugly dirty game of politics becomes also a sinister political charade

    The games have long begun. So, please gentlemen, keep them clean. Keep your knives sheathed and punches below the belt are not allowed. Finally, playing the victim does not score you any points.

    What is at stake is the future of a glorious party, not the settling of old scores and failed ambitions

    Victor Cuschieri

  8. danny attard said

    Il-Kuġin ta’ Robi t’Arras takes a sober overview of events linked to the election for a labour leader.

    I agree that the removal or re-deployment of any individual or individuals from their party posts should not be inspired by emotion or sly motivations.

    The only consideration should be meritocracy based on ability to deliver. There however exists one fear that I find to be widespread and I will try to explain it in simple terms.

    The task awaiting the new leadership is a complex one and spans from soul to implementation.

    At lease since Dr Mifsud Bonnici’s days, Labour’s electoral campaigns were lacking in many aspects. Dr Mifsud Bonnici’s Ir-rih tal-bidla was singularly out of tune with the mood of the people-in-the-street and so on and so forth. Bidu Gdid was similarly out of tune because while the general feeling was one of absolute disregard for the party in Government, yet people were not hankering for a new start but for a move for the better, a sober change. Bidu gdid meant upheaval and no one was in the mood for upheaval. MF was more in line with his ‘mhux Gvern alternatif izda Gvern ahjar’ even if the buzz line lacked the required sexiness.

    Now the point is this. There exists an impression that many of those who managed the party admin at the time of Dr KMB are the ones who still bring forward Labour’s fortunes. In a way, I really suffer for our present secretary general because despite his committed loyalty and drive, performance in the month that mattered was well below par. He had to carry the can no doubt but I have my doubts that performance lacked the support of a much wider platform that just was not there. Yesterday Dr. Muscat presented an excellent to-do list. He surely knows that without delivery at the cutting-edge of possibility, the list will count for nothing. I am sure that the good-intentioned people who have given so much to the party will recognise the tasks in hand. I am not so sure that they actually understand them. Labour also needs to upgrade structures. No one should be overlooked out of anger. No one should be retained because of considerations having to do with ‘internal politics’.

    These comments refer to admin. Soul is of course as important. I will now therefore read MB’s contribution with relish 🙂

    Danny Attard

  9. Raymond Grech said

    Welcome to LinL MikeB and thanks to Mike Briguglio for a very interesting post (first published on his own blog last Tuesday). One may, or may not agree, with his views on the MLP’s last campaign and his proposals for the future but I am sure we all have plenty to say about them. What is certain, to me at least, is that there was no single ‘Achilles’ heel’ – different issues/problems appear to have limited the MLP’s appeal in different segments of what we may describe as the ‘electoral market’. Anyway, I’m particularly intrigued by Mike’s suggestion no. 6: “ma jippruvax ikun iktar Nazzjonalist mill-Partit Nazzjonalista” – which is where all the talk about the leadership candidates’ ‘electibility’ and plausibility as PM-in-waiting could be taking us, unless we’re careful. The current conjuncture – EU membership, the various processes usually labelled ‘globalisation’ etc., – severely restricts our options. At the same time that conditions on what I have described as the ‘electoral market’ demand that we differentiate ourselves from the competition. Are we destined to play Pepsi to the PN’s Coke?

    Raymomd Grech

  10. Saviour Grech. said

    I think that the MLP is going to end up wounded in the campaign for the election of its new leader. TVM rumours’ campaigns are not to be discarded. A staunch Nationalist, who beggar believes, is paid from our taxes, to serve PN’s electoral strategy, heads TVM. Joseph Muscat’s bid for the leadership is definitely not to the PN’s liking and frankly speaking, the election is appearing to be more of a sea battle than a regatta. I think that MLP’s radio and TV should be made available to our guys so that they can have their say about their vision, and in the meantime, stop the ever-growing rumours, emanating from PN’s second column at the Public Broadcasting Service.

    Saviour Grech

  11. maria vella said

    The PBS is in my opinion an important member of the media that contributes to a critical mass of spin that is able to distort any semblance of debate. Note the spin that like a tsunami is building up ahead. It goes something like this:

    OK so the NP scraped through. Nevertheless, any new Labour Party leader has to face a government that will benefit from tmin mitt miljun f’progetti li se jaghmlu l-hajja tal-leader laburista tant u tant difficli.

    On one day last week I hear this spin being mentioned no less than 3 times in the space of just one hour: P. Portelli puts the notion to Mr Grima, the presenter of Dissett puts the same notion to one of the contestants, while a political observer mentions it again in Dissett.

    Now forget for a while the fact that the amount of Lm343m is in fact a gross amount, forget for an instance that the amount covers a period up to 2013, forget for a while that the funds can be accessed through applications for specific projects and will only finance a portion of any project, forget that only rarely does a country manage to make use of all available funds, forget that the amount is less than our interest bill on national borrowing, remember yes that it is great to have such funding available for projects approved by the EU…yet within the context wherein the tmin mitt miljun is mentioned, why do we forget great challenges from the price of oil, the hike in commodity prices, the ever more volatile nature of the tourism industry as competition rages, the many structural changes that the country still has to make, the drydocks issue and so on and on and on…may we face these challenges as a mature country and may PBS be a positive vehicle of information analysis and debate…

    Maria Vella

  12. Raymond Grech said

    Just wanted to add to my previous post on Mike Briguglio’s diagnosis/prescription, specifically about the ‘industriji’ paragraph.

    Granted, it is very possible that the whole ‘tax-on-overtime’ issue was mishandled. It is also that a “Partit tax-Xellug isibha ferm aktar difficli li jattira lejh lill-esponenti ta’ l-industrija, liema esponenti igawdu minn kapital ekonomiku u apparat bhall-medja biex iwasslu l-messagg taghhom.” But difficult is not the same as impossible and the MLP in government did in fact manage to pull off the trick for a substantial length of time (although one could write an entire dissertation about whether that MLP was really a “partit tax-xellug”).

    The argument is undeniably complex – for example one needs to distinguish between indigenous and foreign capital, and also between different periods of MLP rule. It is certainly reasonable to argue, for example, that during its 22 months of existence Sant’s government proved itself to be much more sensitive to the needs of industry, say on the issue of import liberalisation, than its PN counterparts had been during the preceding five years. Also, Michael should perhaps go through the list of Malta’s industrial exporters in electronics, mechanical and electrical engineering, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, plastics and IT and take note of when they were set up…

    We don’t want to make excuses for the MLP but at the same time we should beware of unwittingly validating ideas peddled by PN ideologues who want us to believe that all ‘real’ industrial development in Malta can somehow be traced to after May 1987 (actually we could describe this as part of the ‘hegemonic discourse’ of the bloc represented by the PN).

    Raymond Grech

  13. Pierre Borg said

    Fil-bidu tat-tellieqa ghall-hatra ta’ mexxej, kulhadd kien qed jistenna li din ser tispicca f’girja bejn Joseph Muscat u Michael Falzon, u f’dan l-ordni. Aktar ma jghaddi zmien pero jidher li min qed imexxi l-kampanja ta’ George Abela qed jirnexxielu jnaqqas l-isvantagg li beda bih u jidhol flok Michael Falzon biex itellaq ma Joseph Muscat.

    Id-decizjoni li l-elezzjonijiet isiru fil-5 ta’ Gunju tat vantagg lil George Abela minhabba li b’hekk inghata zmien biex jipprova jeghleb l-oggezzjonijiet qawwija li ghandhom ghalih diversi delegati. Ftit nesew kif fis-sitwazzjoni difficli li kien jinsab fiha l-gvern laburista fl-1998, flok inghaqad ma shabu biex jiggieldu l-elezzjoni flimkien, kien telaq u l-P.N. spiccaw juzaw ir-ritratt tieghu fuq il-billboards fil-kampanja elettorali taghhom. George Abela issa qed jipprova jappella ghas-sentiment tad-delegati billi jipprezenta ruhu li kien kontra li ssir elezzjoni fl-1998 u ghalhekk telaq. L-ghazla ta’ Bormla biex jiftah il-kampanja tieghu kienet ukoll sinjifikattiva. George Vella pero xellef sew d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ George Abela meta svela li fl-ezekuttiv tal-Partit, George Abela ma kienx ivvota kontra l-mozzjoni biex issir l-elezzjoni fl-1998.

    Parti mill-loghba qed tintlaghab fuq il-medja ispirata mill-PN jew dawk li jappoggjawh. Dan jinkludi wkoll il-PBS. L-ahbarijiet tal-PBS tal-bierah 18 ta’ April, jistghu jinqraw bhala parti ohra fl-istrategija ta’ min jixtieq li jmexxi l-kanditatura ta’ George Abela. L-ispekulazzjoni li Joseph Muscat ser jirtira mit-tigrija biex jappoggja lil George Abela kienet mossa intelligenti biex tillegittima l-kandidatura ta’ George mad-delegati li ma jistghux jinsew kif abbandunhom ghaxar snin ilu. Min fassal din il-mossa ried jaghti certifikat minghand Joseph Muscat lil George Abela.

    Il-verita’ hija pero differenti. Joseph Muscat mhux biss ikkonferma li ma kellu ebda intenzjoni li jirtira, talli l’ghada stess nieda konferenza fejn spjega l-programm li fi hsiebu jimplimenta jekk jigi elett mexxej. Jidher determinat aktar minn qabel.

    Ix-xniegha tal-PBS mhijiex vera, pero xnieghat ohra hawn ghaddejjin. Wahda minn dawn trid li jekk George Abela jilhaq mexxej, jista’ jkollu mieghu bhala deputati mexxejja lil Michael Falzon u Marie Louis Coleiro Preca biex jaqtghu barra liz-zewg kandidati l-ohra.

    Pierre Borg

  14. Carmen Caruana said

    First of all, my compliments for the excellent idea of opening a page (VOULEZ VOUS LIRE AVEC MOI? https://labourinlabour.wordpress.com/voulez-vous-lire-avec-moi/) about books that you or us, visitors, are reading. With every single day that passes, Labour in labour is distinguishing itself from most other blogs in Malta for being in a quality class of its own. What better in-your-face answer to those that peddle the stereotype of Labour as a bunch of moronic hammalli! The tide is turning!

    I was particularly impressed by your piece on Obama Barack’s The Audacity of Hope. I have nothing further to say except, with your permission, to reproduce in awed and silent approval its the last paragraph (I take only the liberty of emphasising what I think crucial and to dedicate it to those amongst us who, to quote from the title of one of your posts, “are guilty of being young”):

    “Is there a lesson for us in this book by the man who might well be leading the world’s dominant power before the end of this eventful year? I think so. The man has detected a deep subterranean rumbling emerging from the entrails of humanity and recognised it for what it is, an urge for peace, a weariness of conflict and hate. I think that even we Maltese, in our own micro-situation (itself a factor, surely, that determines our own affairs), are (sixty-three years after the end of World War II, almost exactly fifty years after the riots of April 1958, forty-four years after Independence, thirty two years after the birth of the Republic, twenty-one years after Labour’s electoral defeat of 1987, ten years after the fall of the brief-lived Labour government of 1996-1998, three years after EU accession, a few weeks after the 2008 elections, when the memories of the Interdett and the Mizbla, of the great conflicts over education and health, of the victims that these conflicts left on the ground, have not faded at all), are aching for the closure of an epoch.”

    Carmen Caruana

  15. Alistaire Borg said

    Jista xi hadd li jaf jghidilna hux veru li wara li George Abela ghogbu jitlaqna inghata hafna xoghol legali mill MEPA taht gvern PN?
    Michael Falzon ukoll ma qabilx li mmorru ghal elezzjoni, imma baqa hemm.
    Vote George = split Labour

  16. danny attard said

    Dr Muscat’s to-do list includes all key areas that can take the party forward. One comment of a technical nature. Units need to operate within a flat structure and need to feel empowered, as the bulk of their proposals have to be swiftly approved by leadership. Ultimate success may therefore depend on the selection of the professionals taking up the key roles, as these must enjoy the full confidence of leadership. The impact of the identified roles will possibly be negative if units are made to work in a pyramidal structure not least because the professionals will be probably mired in internal political hassle. The role of the secretary general is therefore pivotal. Here the party needs to identify a heavy-duty performer having proven CEO credentials.

    Danny Attard

  17. Raymond Grech said

    A couple of interesting pieces by James Debono on Malta Today, one published at the beginning of the leadership campaign,the other last week (respectively 16 April, 19 March)

    http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2008/04/16/n2.html

    http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2008/03/19/n10.html

    There were two older pieces (appearing in Malta Today before the General Elections) that I wanted to post (but haven’t traced yet). One said the MLP’s electoral campaign was not making good use of JM’s popularity, the other (if my memory serves me right) that JM was part of some sort of intellectual elite that was not strongly rooted in the ‘mass’ of the MLP – positions that would seem to be mutually contradictory, prima facie. Can’t remember who wrote them, one of them could have been an editorial piece by Saviour Balzan. Will post when, if, I find them.

    Raymond Grech

  18. Anna Maria Callus said

    I find the idea of seeking the “closure of an epoch”, put forward yesterday by my old friend Carmen Caruana (Comment No.13), a fascinating one.

    Professional psychologists are uncomfortable and irritated by the ambiguity of the term ‘closure’. It makes its entrance into psychology around 1910 when the Gestalt school of therapy in Germany introduced it into our discipline to describe a process whereby scattered and troubling feelings are transformed into tolerable, meaningful and stable mental patterns. Today, it has become an almost popular word referring to a coming to terms emotionally with tragedy or bringing to a decisive end the misery and grief of a great loss.

    Every era brings popular words that no one quite understands, or — worse — everyone understands differently. Closure has been such a word for 10 or 15 years. It describes something that is highly desirable but also quite vague. Those in emotional pain are said to need it, and many hope to achieve it if they can figure out what it is and how to get it. Some people apparently think that just mentioning it is consoling, as if the word itself had magic properties. At the very least, discussing it demonstrates that someone’s distress is being taken seriously.

    The passage quoted by Carmen (from the note on Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope in the Voulez vous lire avec moi? section of this blog https://labourinlabour.wordpress.com/voulez-vous-lire-avec-moi/)refers to the need for us Maltese to finally come to terms with the pain and the grief we caused to each other especially since the end of the Second World War. Joseph Muscat seems to be thinking along the same lines when he calls for the Labour Party – one of the main protagonists of the last sixty years of our history – to make “an effort of national reconciliation together with the other political parties and other social entities about past political events”…somewhat vague, that is true, but loud and clear for thos who wish to understand. The line I have just quoted is Item 6 of Objective II of Joseph’s action programme to upgrade the Labour Party. In Maltese: “Billi isir sforz ta’ rikonciljazzjoni Nazzjonali mall-partiti politici l-ohra u partijiet ohra tas-socjeta’ dwar avvenimenti politici li sehhew fil-passat.” You can find the full document in the page Official Statements by Contestants on this blog.

    If it is true that the majority of Maltese and Gozitans across our political divides indeed hunger for closure of the epoch of political conflict that many of us (Joseph, Carmen, I and many if not most of the contributors and visitors to this blog) were born in (we know no better), then the Labour Party’s next leader should be one who is able and willing to engineer this closure together with other key individuals and institutions in Din l-Art Morra.

    Anna Maria Callus

  19. Rita Ciappara said

    ‘Closure’ would, if at all possible, be a good thing. However, Anna Maria and Carmen (Comments 13 and 16) will recall from our student days, that the original meaning of the term in the Gestalt school is crisp and precise and bears only a vague family resemblance to the vague notion so fashionable today.

    ‘Closure’, in its original context, is one of the five principles of Gestalt, the other four being ‘similarity’, ‘continuation’, ‘proximity’, ‘figure & ground’. In this context ‘closure’ occurs when an object is not complete or a space is not completely enclosed. If enough of the shape is indicated, people perceive the whole by filling-in the missing infomation. After all, as you know, Gestalt means “unified whole”, and refers to theories of visual perception developed by German psychologists in the first quarter of the 20th century. These theories attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes when certain principles are applied.

    Why am I telling you what you already know, at the risk of appearing to be condescending and of sounding school-mistressly? Simply to remind you that very few of us Maltese take a serious critical interest in our recent history. By critical interest I mean not accepting blindly what is handed down to us by sundry hagiographers, propagandists or simply incompetent self-styled historians. As a result of this indifference, we mindlessly fill-in the missing bits and reach conclusions that have not been tested against the facts. Consequently, our historical consciousness oscillates between demons and angels, between fragmentary facts glued together by speculation and prejudice (political, social and, yes, our religious or para-religious world view). From this point of view, we have always exercised ‘closure’.

    But I do not want to ridicule your concern with finally burying our sordid past and putting a fitting and dignified tombstone on it. But if ‘closure’ – in this sense – is to be achieved, it has to be a genuine national effort and it presumes a critical confrontation with our recent past. We can’t bury a nameless body. A serious post-mortem is required and it cannot be a hurried affair. Many, far too many, questions about our recent past remain unanswered (indeed, most remain unasked). If we fail to do so, we will continue to fill-in the missing bits in our own way…and the nameless body will creep out of its grave at sunset to haunt us and our children.

    Rita Ciappara

  20. Zeppi said

    Karm, Anna Mari, Rit! Qrajt xi ktibtu dwar din l-imbierka ‘closure’. Proset hej! X’wicc tost! X’arroganza! Ma tisthux! Qabel ma wasaltu ghall-konkluzjoni li jehtieg li nalghqu epoka ta’ mibgheda politika…rajtu x’tahseb Dafni, jekk taqbilx jew le?

    U Gjowi ta’ Burmarrad, dak l-ardit! Ikkonsulta man-ninfa tal-Bidnija qabel ma qabad u qal li tal-Lejber imisshom jinghaqdu mal-partiti l-ohra ghal “sforz ta’ rikonciljazzjoni Nazzjonali …dwar avvenimenti politici li sehhew fil-passat”?

    Ara fejn wasalna! Ma baqax rispett! dawn huma iz-zghazagh tal-lum!

    Viva Dafni! Viva Dafni!
    Hej! Hej! Hej!

    Peppi ta’ Milorda a.k.a. Zeppi ta’ biz-zarbun (Author’s real name is known to Caretaker)

  21. Raymond Grech said

    Can I ask a few basic questions (forgive me if they have already been answered)?

    1.What do we mean by closure? What do we want this closure to achieve?
    2.Why do we want whatever it is that we are calling closure?
    3.I understand this ‘closure’ is something directed at someone else: does this someone else want closure? I am assuming that this someone else understands ‘closure’ to mean the same things that we do.
    4.What if the other party does not want closure?

    Will be back later.

    Raymond Grech

  22. Raymond Grech said

    From http://www.timesofmalta.com

    Tuesday, 22nd April 2008 – 11:08CET
    UPDATED: George Abela sets out his vision for the MLP
    Petition for voting by members to be presented this week

    (Adds Dr Abela’s replies to questions)

    Labour leadership contender George Abela, 60 today, laid out his vision for the party at a press conference this morning, insisting that the party should focus on the individual and become the natural choice for the people. He also announced that a petition for paid-up members to be able to vote in the leadership election will be presented to the party this week.

    He told a press conference at the Hilton that the MLP should be a participant in EU-related bodies out of conviction.

    The MLP should be a party which attracted both young and old, a party which attacked arguments, not individuals, a party which was based on firm values which included the traditional family.

    This should also be a party which protected the minorities and encouraged voluntary work for society.

    Dr Abela said the party should be reorganised to make its structures more efficient, for the benefit of all those who believed in the party, not just the members. The starting point should be an independent audit to establish the current state of affairs.

    The party media’s role should be to inform, educate, and entertain and it should also reflect truth, quality, decency and individual dignity even in the case of those who opposed the party.

    The party itself should have good relations with all the media.

    Dr Abela said that as a leader, he was promising to keep closer contact with the party’s roots.

    He said the MLP should continue to work for free quality education for all, and ensure that high standards were observed in state, Church and private schools. Malta, he said, should seek to achieve the Lisbon Strategy benchmarks as soon as possible.

    Likewise, the party needed to continue to lay stress on free, quality health case while also cooperating with private healthcare providers. Environmental protection also had to be one of its priorities, with close relations with NGOs.

    Turning to the economy and public administration, Dr Abela said Labour should encourage private productive investment by creating the right climate, with the least possible bureaucracy and without the state competing with private enterprise.

    There had to be a proper balance between direct and indirect taxation, and taxation must be such as not to be seen as a barrier to private initiative.

    The MLP should also promote clean, transparent and efficient public administration to ensure that taxpayers’ money was well spent, not least on social services, Dr Abela said.

    Replying to questions, Dr Abela said that the fact that he was not a Member of Parliament was not an obstacle to his leadership bid. Indeed, even if he was elected leader, he would prefer having a period during which he could concentrate on the party before becoming an MP, something which was possible through co-option.

    His aim, Dr Abela said, was to win the election. “The Labour Party simply cannot afford to lose another general election,” he said.

    Dr Abela denied that minutes of the party’s executive meetings in 1998 showed that he had been in favour of an early election, but then changed his mind. What those minutes showed, he said, was that he backed the presentation of a motion asking the delegates at the general conference whether the party should seek an early election. He was never in favour of going to the polls early.

    Dr Abela said he viewed his candidacy for the leadership as a new beginning and he hoped it would lead to a new way how the MLP conducted politics. Certainly, the MLP could no longer labour under a siege mentality. He was all for consensus politics, as far as possible. Confrontational politics was not helpful to the people.

    Dr Abela said a petition calling on the general conference to allow voting in the leadership contest by the paid up members would be presented to the party this week. He would then submit to the will of the delegates.

    He said the leadership contest had started on the wrong foot, with a party official having publicly come out against a candidate (a reference to general secretary Jason Micallef’s comments about him).

    Should he not be elected leader, Dr Abela said he would still be prepared to serve the party, but he would not seek election for the post of deputy leader.
    ———————————————————
    Has anyone looked at the comments on the Times website?

    Raymond Grech

  23. Lizzy Bartolo said

    Friends, is it just me or has this blog (pardon me, this Tazebao) become the Castalia of blogs? What’s all this philosophising about? Earth calls Carmen, Anna Maria and Rita; roger that?

    Please forgive me dearest ‘sisters’ for the liberty I have taken to mock the delivery of your comments’ message but it was getting too academic and high-brow around here. Lets tone it down shall we, for the benefit of those like me who are pragmatists at heart and perhaps would wish for a more down-to-earth approach. Most of us, at least those who haven’t been so horribly wrecked by war, (see Caretaker’s interesting editorial ‘A short history of war wrecks in Maltese’)

    “the long Maltese war that started more or less after World War 2 and that may have come to an end sometime in the 90s – have not really come to terms with our own contemporary history. Until we do, we will not be able to understand and to manage the extraordinary emotions it is still capable of generating not only amongst its survivors but also amongst those that were born when the dust had already began to settle.” Tazabao Caretaker, editorial April 6, 2008.

    share the audacity of your hopes and dreams for a more stable, calm and rational society. I for one dream of living more amongst Houyhnhnms guided by a young, shrewd, sharp-witted Magister Ludi. Who wouldn’t want to live like that? Who are those who haven’t wished for a harmonious existence where life is ruled by sense and moderation? Nevertheless, if you care to look around you will realise that this is far from our reality! As many of you have now learnt from my previous comments I always kept my feet rooted to the proverbial ground. All I have to do is take a look around me, observe interactions people engage in, read the daily reactions and responses in the local media to keep cautious when uttering the word ‘closure’ as you three intend it to be.

    I have unfortunately observed no closure so far by those with the power to make it, nor did I notice anyone ask the relevant questions that may lead to closure. The few who have were crushed mentally and emotionally, stunted from further engaging in this closure. My dearest ‘sisters’ I think people are still far away from reaching any form of closure. We live back-to-back with yahoos who have penetrated all sectors of society, from the media to industry to politics. Unfortunately, as W. James rightly put it, “the world of concrete personal experiences to which the street belongs is (multifaceted) beyond imagination, tangled, muddy, painful and perplexed.” The world which you refer to, which you hope for, is “clean, simple and noble. The contradictions of real life are absent from it…”

    Lizzy Bartolo

  24. Bo Peep said

    Excuse me Caretaker but would you care to explain ‘closure’ in layman terms, so that simpletons like me can understand and better appreciate what other fellow guests are saying?

    Could it mean simply: let by-gones be by-gones? Move forward? Could it perhaps mean to make peace with one’s past? To reconcilliate with our internal demons, drop that heavy ‘sack’ full of guilt, hostility, grief, sadness and other negative feelings so that we can make quicker, lighter steps forward towards a new beginning? Is it really possible? Could the wolves and the sheep turn over a new leaf and live together without fear of reprisal? Would the new ‘shepherd’ encourage such an arragement? Would he trust it?

    I lost my sheep, so they call me Bo Peep. I’m a simpleton by nature, scarcely inclined to mental adventure 😉

    Bo Peep

    [It’s OK, I know Little Bo Peep, The Caretaker]

  25. Rita Ciappara said

    Rita Ciappara: Rita to Earth, Rita to Earth, this is Rita Ciappara, do you read me Earth?
    Earth: crackle crackle and other static
    Rita Ciappara: Rita to Earth, Rita to Earth, this is Rita Ciappara, do you read me Earth?
    Earth: crackle crackle and other static
    Rita Ciappara: Earth this is Rita Ciappara, just wanted to say roger, Lizzy Bartolo’s message received loud and clear…do you read me Earth?
    Earth: crackle crackle and other static

    Rita Ciappara

  26. Zeppi said

    Drin drin! Drin drin! Drin drin!
    Hallo! Hallo!
    Hemmhekk Super One?
    L-ewwel nett bongu u proset tal-programm!
    Hemmhekk mhux Super One?
    Mela fejn?
    Xarabank? Xarabank?
    Skuzani, wrong number.

    Drin drin! Drin drin!
    Hallo? Hallo?
    Hemmhekk Super One?
    L-ewwel nett bongu u proset tal-programm!
    Hemmhekk hu Super One, hux hekk?
    Tajjeb! Xtaqt niddedika diska lil Rita Ciappara, Carmen Caruana, Anna Maria Callus, Raymond Grech u Lizzy Bartolo.
    Nixtieq niddedikalhom id-diska Closure ta’ Chevelle…
    …Closure, ghidtlek, Klowgjer, Klow-gjerr!
    M’ghandekx Closure ta’ Chevelle?
    M’ghandekx Closure ta’ Chevelle. X’tghamel? Iddoqqli xi haga ohra floka. Xiex per ezempju?
    We are the champions? We are the champions?
    Le, dik le.
    Isma, ma’ tridx inkantaha jien minn fuq it-telefon? Imqar silta qasira.
    Nipprovaw? OK?
    Mela, ha nibda.

    Like a leach,
    I hold on as if we belonged,
    To some precious pure dream.
    Cast off, you’ve seen what’s beneath,
    Now fail me.

    Forget closure,
    Forget closure,
    Forget closure,
    Forget closure
    .”

    Hallo! Hallo! Hallo? Ara kif jghamlu dawn! Qatali il-linja! U jien li xtaqt nawgura heppi bertdej liz-zija Doris li tghix Melborn u li ghalqet sniena il-bierah!

    Ahjar kieku rajt jekk kienux jaqduni dawk ta’ Xarabank! Dawk nies!

    Viva Peppi! Viva Peppi!
    Hej! Hej! Hej!

    Peppi ta’ Milorda a.k.a. Zeppi ta’ biz-zarbun

    (Author’s real name is known to Caretaker…by the way for those of you who don’t know the alternative metal, hard rock, post-grunge US group Chevelle…well here is the link to their site http://www.chevelleinc.com/ and the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL9xgF0ZV2U)

  27. Andrew Sciberras said

    L-ewwel net nixtieq nfahhar dan it-tazebao ghal bicca xoghol sura u intelligenti li qieghda twettaq. Niehu pjacir nara li ghall-inqas hemm min juza l-internet ghal skopijiet li l-Maltin tal-llum jghidulhom ‘bis sens, man’.

    Ma tantx nista nzid ma dak li diga ntqal minn diversi kelliema qabli. Pero` ta’ zgahzugh imdejjaq li jien, fil-hin liberu li kelli ghamilt daqxejn ‘brainstorming’ ta’ malajr u bla ebda hsieb konkret dwar il-problemi tal-Partit Laburista u xi jrid ikun ghalinqas mil-lenti zghazugha tieghi il- Partit Laburista.

    Xi Problemi mil-lenti tieghi:

    1. Passat (40’s – 80’s) Imqaleb

    Minkejja li fl-istorja tieghu il-Partit Laburista wettaq hafna u hafna gid ghal pajjizna, specjalment meta wiehed jara kif mil-faqar li hakem il- pajjiz wara t-Tieni Gwerra Dinjija il- Partit Laburista holoq Welfare State li rega ta’ l-hajja lura lil Maltin, huwa l-aktar maghruf (ghalinqas ma’ dawk li m’humiex Laburisti u dawk li m’humiex ta’ nahha jew ohra) ghad-dizgwid li kellu mal-Knisja; ghall-militanza u l-vjolenza fizika especjalment fis-70 u 80ijiet.

    2. Partit Negattiv

    Il-Partit Laburista, sa issa, huwa maghruf sew ghan negativita` tieghu especjalment wara li ma qabilx ma’ shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropeja u d-dhul ta’ l-Ewro, minkejja li seta kellu xi argumenti validi f’dan il-konfront.

    3. Partit Maghluq u Skomdu

    Il-Partit Laburista ghad ma rnexilux jiftah il-bibien kolla tieghu anki ghal dawk li jixtiequ jghinuh. Ma rnexielux ikun attraenti ghal dawk li ahna nsejhu ‘floaters’ u lanqas ma rnexielu jkun attraenti ma dawk li assolutament xebbghu mil-Partit Nazzjonalista. B’hekk dawn ivotaw PN ghax ma kellhomx ghazla jew ma vvotaw ghal-hadd.

    4. Partit li huwa Un-Cool

    Il-Partit Laburista ghadu mhux attraenti ghall-maggoranza taz-zghazagh. Irid ikun ferm aktar miftuh ghaz-zghazagh u jinvolvijhom aktar jekk dawn jixtiequ jinvolvu ruhhom.

    5. Il-Fenomenu Santista

    Minkejja li Alfred Sant irriforma partit, qata’ l-militanza u immoderinzah, dan xorta ser jibqa l-aktar maghruf fid-dinja publika ghal-gvern qasir tieghi, ghal-dak li in-Nazzjonalisti sejhu il-‘qassatat’ tal VAT, stipendji, tal-EU, ecc. Sahansitra wiehed ghandu jinnota li numru sostanzjali ta’ zghazagh u anke dawk akbar fl-eta` kienu jahsbu li jekk jitla Sant mela jistghu idabbru rashom l’hemm ghax dan ha jkisser pajjiz.

    6. Konflitti Interni

    Minkejja li konflitti interni huma problema ghal bosta partiti politici il-Partit Laburista huwa l-aktar maghruf ghat tribujiet u nuqqas ta’ unita fil-kwartieri tieghu. Wiehed biss jista jsemmi lil-Mintoffjani (li ghadom jezistu sal-llum), dawk ta’ George Abela, dawk ta’ Sant, ecc, ecc.

    7. Ma jimxiex mal-kurrenti ekonomici tad-Dinja ‘Globalizzata’

    Il-Partit Laburista ghad irrid jirriforma il-policies tieghu sabiex dawn jkunu mfassla fuq sisien li jirriflettu dinja moderna u globalizzata kif inhi llum.

    X’ghandu jkun?

    Kelli xi punti f’mohhi li xtaqt niddiskuti maghkom imma ghal issa kemm ha nsemmijhom ta’ fuq fuq ghax fihom hafna fuq xiex tidiskuti u l-hin qed jafas:

    1. Partit Socjali Demokratiku mibdni fuq id-demokrazija, il-liberta tal-bniedem, l-ugwalita`, is-solidarjeta`, il-gustizzja socjali u d-djalogu socjali

    2. Partit Ewropew

    3. Partit progressiv li jinkludi lil kullhad u ma jaghmel l-ebda distinzjoni bejn bniedem u iehor minkejja d-differenzi socjali, ta’ razza, kulur tal-gilda, religjon, sess, orjentazjoni sesswali etc.

    4. Partit Ambjentali

    5. Partit ta’ l-aqwa success ekonomiku ghal kullhadd

    6. Partit li jehles ghal kollox il-militanza u l-politka tat-Tribu, i.e. li jkun aktar maqud u li bil-qalb kolla jisma lil dawk li ma jaqblux ma xi proposti li jaghmel, ecc

    7. Partit ghal KULLHADD

    8. Partit li jahdem ghall-aqwa edukazzjoni, sahha u li jipromwovi l-kultura (il-qari, it-teatru…l-arti in generali fil-qafas kollu taghha).

    Allura jinhtieg li l-Partit Laburista ghandu jkollu mexxej professjonali imma karizmatiku u qrib kullhadd li ghandu l-hegga, il-kuragg, id-determinazjoni, il-vizjoni, l-ambizzjoni biex din id-direzjoni u dawn il-bidliet tant mehtiega jsiru REALTA! Ejja jkolna Partit Laburista li kullhadd jista jassocja ruhu mieghu 🙂

    Andrew Sciberras

  28. Clive Fenech said

    On March 23 I replied to a comment that argued that

    “today’s underlying political currents in Malta are less about ideology and more about a public desire to find leaders who can effectively address everyday problems, and who do so honestly”.

    Reacting to this, I wrote that this

    “is probably true but an effective response to this ‘public desire’ requires a solid ideological basis (= a clear vision of where we come from, where we are and where we want to go to as a society). What I mean is that part of the problem is that today’s politicians fail to impress us because they all tend to think in the same way and look more and more like each other irrespective of which party they belong to. If Labour – irrespective of who the new leader will be – is unable to offer a distinct and appealing vision, then kiss the future goodbye!”.

    I stick by my views. Without pragmatism we will get nowhere, that is true. If we are too different from the Nationalists, however, or if we stand for everything and for nothing in particular, then we will also get nowhere as well.

    Although the Maltese are slowly (far too slowly) beginning to emancipate themselves from the abject servility that they were reduced to by 270 years of rule by a foreign feudal power (the Knights) and 180 years of British military presence, and although (especially) the young are no longer happy to bow and kiss the hands of a monsignor or an onorevoli, there is also and simultaneously a growing desire to be governed by persons who are, on the one hand, technically competent and undogmatic, but, on the other, motivated and inspired by a morally compelling mission.

    I am disturbed by George Abela’s declared intention to reduce the Labour Party to a mere manager of everybody’s interests. He wants us to be everybody’s natural choice. That may sound good (as good as his clever – if a trifle too clever – assertion that he prefers a party that is first democratic and then social, as opposed to social democrat) but is it?

    Although we all agree that we should not be identified as the party of social losers and of those that can only survive thanks to social welfare, not all of us agree that we should abandon our explicit commitment to social justice within the parameters of the rule of law. This means refusing to be the party of those who stand to gain from social injustice and lawlessness. If we are not their party, then we need to say this clearly.

    I have read carefully through Andrew Sciberras’ check list of desiderata. I think he should go through them once again and reflect on each of them in the light of what I have just written.

    Clive Fenech

  29. danny attard said

    What does a ‘Partit Ewropew’ mean? A dedicated European?

    To be a dedicated European one must therefore understand the Europe (EU) in whose regard we are to be dedicated.

    Do we agree on this overview of the EU?

    1. The EU concept emerged as a response to Cold War realities and has today developed as a pioneering response to globalisation

    2. The EU is made up of sovereign nations who have voluntarily given up aspects of their sovereignty in order to pool common resources.

    3. The EU is neither a super nation state nor a federalist state.

    4. The EU is an attempt to develop governmental structures.

    5. The EU is constructed by political elites. One can follow the trilatelarism debate as the Chirac/Schroder/Blair experience is now being revived by the Sarkozy/Brown/Merkel triad as the dangers of a three-way directoire are being highlighted by the likes of Italy, Poland and Spain. Where does Malta stand in this debate?

    6. The EU is heavily bureaucratic while the European Parliament lacks influence. A shift from the Commission to Parliament is considered by many as a must if the Union’s democratic credentials are to be endorsed. Would this lead to the forming of genuinely European Parties? The Labour Party’s active presence and positive contribution within a major force in the European Parliament is certainly a big plus point.

    My point: The European Union is very much a work-in-progress project. Therefore, being a European Party can not mean the embracing of a concept because such a concept is still very much in a works-in-progress mode. Malta’s political Parties must therefore be constantly vigilant to assess how developments impact on our society and as importantly contribute towards the development of the European project. Both the NP and the MLP have still to develop their own vision of a European Union and have to date lagged behind the coat-tails of their bigger brothers.

    Labeling parties pro or anti European within this dynamic reality is therefore, in my opinion, a disservice to the development of the great European Project. The Maltese Labour Party has to date been a mature protagonist in this process. I know that this statement is not a sexy statement and is one that will be buried under a mountain of nebulous pro-European hype and spin that has inundated the topic over the last years.

    Yet I feel it is time that the European realities should be stated to be discussed locally so that Malta acquires her own European identity that is still strikingly lacking because of the NP Government’s meek attitude towards the Union. The EU is much much more than the Euro 855,000,000 being rammed, so completely and utterly out of context, down our collective psyche.

    Danny Attard

  30. Andrew Sciberras said

    Clive wrote:

    “Although we all agree that we should not be identified as the party of social losers and of those that can only survive thanks to social welfare, not all of us agree that we should abandon our explicit commitment to social justice within the parameters of the rule of law. This means refusing to be the party of those who stand to gain from social injustice and lawlessness. If we are not their party, then we need to say this clearly.”

    Let me say that I agree completely. Re: George Abela, he somewhat gives me the creeps when he states that he will build the Malta Labour Party on traditional family values. Not that the value of family is wrong but in my eyes he is excluding all and sundry who do not fall under the caption of a ‘traditional family’. The MLP needs to be much more inclusive than that.

    It is quite an innovative feat, or at least recently made so explicit, that political contests have become totally dominated by individuals and their respective appeal rather than ideology. The MLP needs a leader that is not only strong and appealing as an individual but who is capable (together with his friends and colleagues) to offer something not only different but BETTER.

    We need a leader and team that is capable of (not to use the term ‘fighting’) working tooth and nail to ensure that we DO have social justice and that such justice is not only done but also SEEN to be done. The concept of social justice requires a thesis on its own. But as Clive Fenech has correctly stated it means that no one should gain from social injustice and lawlessness. It means that everyone has equal rights and opportunities to gain and the route to success is not based on unjust personal interests but on genuine merit. How many times have we heard of persons getting significant promotions when there are other persons who have better experience, credentials and qualifications? But social justice is simply one part of what the MLP should work for tooth and nail. My desiderata go a step further from this basic but important ideology.

    One of the flaws of the MLP is that it is perceived to work only for those who are struggling socially and financially. It is only natural, therefore, that those who are well-off or fairing reasonably well don’t associate themselves with the MLP. This is not entirely true, of course, given that there are many self-employed; working professionals, etc who still identify themselves as ‘Labourites’ such as myself. Therefore, to be a “natural party”, as George Abela puts it, words must be put into concrete action. So far George Abela has only spoken words; and one yet questions their genuineness.

    Clive also wrote:

    ‘…What I mean is that part of the problem is that today’s politicians fail to impress us because they all tend to think in the same way and look more and more like each other irrespective of which party they belong to. If Labour – irrespective of who the new leader will be – is unable to offer a distinct and appealing vision, then kiss the future goodbye!”.’

    Let me not beat around the bush. In my sincere opinion, perhaps I am yet to be proven wrong, George Abela is one of those which Clive appropriately describes as ‘looking more and more like each other irrespective of which party they belong to.’ In a fiery speech in Bormla he recalls with great nostalgia our great Socialist past and in a more corporate Hilton he speaks of traditional family values and places great emphasis on privatization. One is questioning here were this man stands politically. Will he take us back to the 70’s or will he transform the MLP into a 2nd Christian Democracy?

    The task for Labour is to find a team which is capable of building upon our traditional center-left ideology but to reform it to the world of today. It is suicide to completely live in our primal ideology but it is equally suicidal to destroy it. Some may question whether this is even possible. But one need only look at Zapatero who in his quiet demeanor has given a new ‘sexy’ voice to the left. Learning from Zapatero’s successes, the MLP has to convince the people that whilst it can be trusted to bring economic success and financial stability to Malta and entrepreneurial people (a point on which Labour has failed to do in the last few years) at the same time it will put forth a social and progressive agenda. I believe this is the way to unite the progressives and the moderates in one winning movement.

    I believe Evarist Bartolo does embrace this political line of thought however he lacks the personality to sell it. The one who has both this ideology and the charisma so far, is Joseph Muscat. Finally, might I add that Joseph’s young age and to an extent lack of national administrative experience is within this context an advantage. Reason being that in order for the MLP to succeed we need to think outside the box and our efforts have to be genuinely new. I fully appreciate that those who we call ‘party veterans’ have given great contribution and impetus to the MLP but their efforts have not been fully successful. Whilst they SHOULD remain in the MLP because their loyalty and experience is vital I feel that they should take a step backward and pass the baton onto a new generation.

    Andrew Sciberras

  31. marie abdilla said

    Alistair Borg (No.15) asks “Jista xi hadd li jaf jghidilna hux veru li wara li George Abela ghogbu jitlaqna inghata hafna xoghol legali mill MEPA taht gvern PN?”

    A quick google search gives the answer.

    According to George Abela NO! …. According to Malta Today MEPA paid a law firm of which Abela is partner, Lm48,000 in 2004. Please see links below.

    Mur emmnu!!Bhal dak li qallu consultant mal-MEPA mhux xorta mil-Gvern ta’ Fenech Adami! Hafna loghob bil-kliem. Kemm jahsibom bahhnana lin-nies. He’s an insult to our intelligence.

    “In fact during the meeting Vassallo simply asked Abela whether he had ever served as a consultant to former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami. Abela replied that Alfred Sant was the only prime minister he had ever served as consultant” Malta Today 16 April, 2008

    http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2008/04/16/n3.html

    “The Malta Environment and Planning Authority dished out the total of Lm48,000 in 2004 to the legal firm Abela, Stafrace & Associates – a partner of which is former Labour deputy leader George Abela – to take over the body of legal work from its in-house legal advisors.” – Matthew Vella Malta Today, March 20, 2005

    http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2005/03/20/t1.html

    Marie Abdilla

  32. marie abdilla said

    I so agree with Andrew Sciberras (No. 30) that Labour and Malta needs a Zapatero and I do believe that both Evarist Bartolo and Joseph Muscat have what it takes to fit the bill. I sure hope one of them becomes leader and the other deputy. That way we could get 2 Zapateros 🙂

    Marie Abdilla

  33. Saviour Grech. said

    The MLP has not been a “mature protagonist” in the E.U. Although the Party accepted the new reality after the foretold defeat of 2003, I saw only two EU flags during the last mass meetings. Why were there not more? Who was responsible for this Euro-scepticism? The new leader must embrace the EU wholeheartedly, and must stop once and for all innuendoes and other sotto voce rumblings from (well past their expiry date) fossilized euro-sceptics.

    Saviour Grech

  34. Lino Buhagiar said

    It is difficult to disagree with Marie Abdilla when she reckons that two Zapateros are better than one. I even agree with her Joseph Muscat and Evarist Bartolo are the closest two we have to the Zapatero template. The big question, Marie, which of the two who should be Zapatero I and which one Zapatero II? If one wins (well both could lose but certainly both cannot win) will the other accept to be his loyal deputy? Joseph has already declared that he will accept to work for whoever wins.

    Lino Buhagiar

  35. Roosting Larry said

    Hey wotz up dudes? I’ve just had a long peek at this Tazebao and I can tell you that I’ll be back for more. It’s a really tasty morsel to savour in tiny bites. I would never have imagined that Labour could be so cool and intelligent too. I hadn’t heard about this blog until a friend of mine sent me the link through facebook. I had been following this leadership ‘regatta’ in the local media but at times I got so bored listening to the usual clucking that my attention span lasted milliseconds. Now that I found this blog, my interest has spiked up again.

    Let me say it straight out, I’m all for JM. Being a young rooster I feel he has what it takes to free us from this chicken wire fencing mentality and deliver us once and for all from this form of ‘cannoli politics’ [see Caretaker’s editorial, April 12, 2008…yes, I read all your past editorials] so that we can really embrace our European status and not just gloat about it on paper! My friends and I [we’re a bunch of chirpy roosters couped up at 6th form] think that JM has style-vision-fortitude-creativity. In other words, we think the living, vital truth of social and economic well-being will become a reality only through zealous people like him. We like Joseph and are eager to vote him into office as PM in 5 years time when we will all be casting our precious votes. I’ll end my comment with an abstract from a legendary song by Led Zepplin- Stairway to heaven:

    And it’s whispered that soon if we all call the tune
    Then the piper will lead us to reason.
    And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
    And the forests will echo with laughter.

    If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
    It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
    There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
    And it makes me wonder.

    Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,
    The piper’s calling you to join him,
    Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
    Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.

    Check it out this amazing song at:

    Roosting Larry (Author’s name known to Caretaker)

  36. Night Editor Alpha Mike Charlie said

    Roosting Larry,
    if you’re one “chirpy rooster couped up in 6th form” (“cooped up” NOT “couped up”, man!) then I am an embryo, no a blastocyst, no a 16-cell morula, no a zygote, in fact just a freshly fertilised ovum! For duck’s sake, do you kids really speak like that? Do you really say things like “embrace our European status”, “style-vision-fortitude-creativity” and “living, vital truth of social and economic well-being”?

    If yes, and that may well be the case, then I stand to be corrected…then I am not a freshly fertilised ovum still a-quivering with my host’s pleasure, but I am Methuselah who lived for 969 years – Genesis 5:28 – and I am world-weary (well, at 4.00 am who wouldn’t be world-weary?). In which case, you are probably some kid who is playing at being hip Mr. Kool now, wears a Che Guevara T-Shirt (thinking that Ernesto was Led Zeppelin’s lead electrician, no doubt) but all he really yearns for is to get a correspondence MBA, start his own estate agency, buy a second hand BMW and metamorphose himself from ambitious son-of-a-redundant-shipwright-from-Fgura into an upwardly mobile born-again-Nationalist with an impossible mortgage in da-Village limits of Mensija.

    If no, if you are an old dirty-mac-wearing-intruder-in-the-night taking the mickey out of us faithful caffeine-driven (yes, intravenously) insomniac bloggers who take in turns to moderate this market-place of points-of-view, then kindly bugger off!

    The only reason (actually one of two reasons) why I will approve and upload your comment, you male chauvinist Roostah (what enlightened progressive would be so pc-unsavvy as to identify himself with a rooster [= a. An adult male chicken. b. An adult male of other birds. c. A person regarded as cocky or pugnacious] on a blog clearly dedicated to choosing a 21st century leader?) is that you can’t be that bad after all if you dig Stairway to Heaven (dig “dig”?…ooops, I’m giving my age away…isn’t that very 60s?).

    Second reason, is that you might really be who you say you are (acne & pimples on your pink cheeks…top & bottom ones…and all) and furthermore you might even be an FZL delegate, whose vote we seek to entice for the best candidate!
    But hush now dear, I hear

    “a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
    It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.”

    No, that’s NOT an “abstract” from your extract from Stairway to Heaven, it’s an “extract”. Don’t they teach you English anymore, for duck’s sake? Will the DCGCW become the sum total of the canonical corpus of post-Imperial English (Malta)?

    Good night/morning actually.
    Your friendly Night Editor,
    AMC

  37. J. Borg said

    It’s fine to agree with the concept of a united Europe, where workers can move from country to country, where borders are not enforced etc etc (after all this was proposed in the 1920s-1930s by the Ghaqda Socjalista Maltija, a Labour Party-affiliated organisation/committee which wanted to work to set up, with other similar organisations from around the world, a “Repubblika Socjalista Internazzjonali”, some kind of EU on a global level)…however, I think that while supporting the European project, the MLP should remain critical of it, in a sense that the Party should try to stop or modify any proposals which would harm Malta and/or the value of social justice.

    Once establishing that you’re in favour of something (the existence of the EU and Malta’s membership in it in this case), then you have to establish what direction this “thing” is to take. What kind of EU do we want? An EU whose sole purpose is that of opening up markets for big business and make cheap labour more easily available? Or an EU which protects and promotes European culture(s), promotes values such as solidarity and tolerance, works together with other global partners for a healthier environment, promotes peace and stability in neighbouring regions and beyond, and, above all, be an EU of the peoples, not of the governments?

    J. Borg

  38. I urge caution and moderation so as not to miss the wood for the trees. Some of the postings in here are very aggressive, even hateful, in respect to individual candidates. Those who treat this contest as a war between hostile candidates rather than a campaign to choose what is best for the Labour Party are sending out the message, whether they mean it or not, that the candidates who fail to win the leadership have no further place in the party. They can deny that this is their aim, but this is certainly the effect.

    And it makes nonsense of all the talk about inclusiveness and bringing back those who were alienated back into the party. That way lies disaster and a sure passport to more electoral losses in the future.

    Furthermore, candidates who stand to benefit from these attacks on their competitors have a supreme responsibility to stop this madness, or else share responsibility for it and carry the full cost in the event of their achieving their aims.

    Dominic Fenech

  39. james debono said

    Am not a Labour party supporter nor a fan of any of the contestants (although I have my biases). Therefore take these as the views of a very subjective outsider who makes no claim to objective truth.

    Some reflections on the choice of new MLP leader

    1. As in 1996 the party has a need to re-invent itself as a party appealing to a plurality of identities and social classes.
    My ideal candidate for this project would be someone who is progressive when it comes to vision, ideas and proposals but also moderate when it comes to delivery, style and discourse.
    For the past years the party was the very opposite; moderate in ideas but belligerent in discourse and style.
    The MLP must ask the question; which leader would be most competitive with Lawrence Gonzi?
    In this sense choosing someone very similar to Gonzi poses the question; why opt for change when we already have it all?
    Having a very light political baggage and a forward looking young image would also help. So does having communication skills to explain complicated issues in simple ways and to win debates.

    2. Sant’s greatest contribution to the MLP was to introduce a discourse based on meritocracy. The party should retain this commitment without sending any mixed messages. While remaining a watchdog against corruption, the MLP should explain better how it plans to change the “jobs for the boys” mentality. People doubted the MLP’s commitment on this issue especially in view of certain declarations on “gvern tal-laburisti” which were taken out of context but harmed the MLP’s meritocratic façade.

    3. The party should focus more on social issues like child care, housing, protection of young workers in precarious jobs, inclusive education and an inclusive family policy. In this area the party’s socialist vision can also appeal to middle class parents. At the same time the party should give priority to the emancipation of those who are still socially excluded and live in depressed areas. It should promote a discourse of social harmony, integration, empowerment and a caring society.

    4. The MLP could project itself as the consumer rights party – thus giving substance to its proposals on the cost of living and ways to regulate the free market to do away with cartels and private monopolies. Rather than just harping on l-gholi tal-hajja-a cliché for some-the MLP should formulate a consumer friendly discourse which also addresses themes like food safety and quality of service.

    5. The party could be more visible in its support for residents confronting developments at local level. The MLP was largely absent in these local struggles which resonate with new middle class and even traditional voters.

    6. The party could regain credibility by being more propositive in parliament by proposing legislation on themes like party financing, whistle blower act, freedom of information and social issues like the rights of cohabiting couples (and I would dare say divorce). In this way the party would be setting the national agenda from the opposition benches. It would also expose the contradictions in a one seat majority government.

    7. While adhering to its socialist democratic ideology, the party could be more open to people who do not necessarily share this ideology but share some common ground. For example liberals, greens and leftists can potentially support a progressive MLP at least on some issues. The MLP could promote itself as a rainbow coalition of progressive people. One should remember that MLP+AD=a majority in the country.

    8. The party should be more open to people engaged in academic disciplines and research. In this election the party seemed very shallow in its understanding of the Maltese social reality. The contribution of those who actually conduct research on Maltese society is vital to the MLP’s future. In this sense the MLP needs its own think tanks open to the wide spectrum of center-left politics.

    9. The MLP must appear less paranoid of the media. It is true that some sections of the media are biased. (But who isn’t?) This is like crying over spilt milk. Labour has to win the respect of independent journalists because sometimes the party has a way of presenting itself as a joke. The MLP should also reform its own media which is alien to the educated new middle class. As long as it exists One TV could find a balance between populist programes and cutting edge cult programmes.

    James Debono

  40. Raymond Grech said

    Some comments on James Debono’s post [welcome to ‘Labour in labour’ James, hope to see you here often]. I believe I can go along on all points, however:

    Re: point 1 – I am not comfortable with the way in which James poses the question, i.e. “which leader would be most competitive with Lawrence Gonzi?”, for a number of reasons.

    Yes, on a practical level I see the point and accept it, but even if our conclusion is going to be same I think it’s very important that we get to it from a different angle.

    First, there is no guarantee that LG will be heading the PN and its campaign next time round [far-fetched perhaps, but stranger things have happened].

    Second, by focusing on LG we’d be allowing the PN to choose the battlefield, as it were. As James implies, why should voters go for a copy when they can get the original? Rather than focusing on how to compete with LG on his own terms we should be looking for leaders who can go places where he can’t.

    Third, I may be a voice crying in the wilderness but I am VERY UNHAPPY with the keenly ‘personalistic’ bent things are taking.

    Fourth, I would hypothesise that the dynamics of LG’s market appeal have changed significantly post 08/03. Granted, the man has his strenghts, but they are not necessarily what they were before the elections, and may have been joined by a number of weaknesses – but let’s keep this for another day.

    Fifth, the type of voter we want to attract [because political parties are meant to win election, after all] will of course look at the quality of the leadership team, but will certainly want to go beyond that. This kind of voter will look to the leadership ‘brand’ as an indicator of ability to deliver on policy.

    Conclusion – get the policies right, then pick the person who can communicate those policies – to activists, opinion leaders, the electorate – and who has the skills to deliver on those policies once in government [or even while waiting her or his turn on the Opposition benches, as in points 5 and 6]. So I’m with James on the importance of a leader’s marketability, but not on the way he frames the issue.

    Regarding point 7, James leaves out one important group – EuroSceptics [thanks to J. Borg for bringing this up in post no. 37]. The term is somewhat abused and actually lumps together widely divergent views – from “EU membership is BAD, get me out of here now!” to “The EU is fine in theory but is undemocratic and/or bureaucratic and/or wasteful and corrupt and/or taken over by lobby groups and/or neo-liberals and/or politically correct fetishists”. Now I know that my suggestion is fraught with all sorts of difficulties and dangers, but I think it is neither fair nor wise to abandon this particular group to the wolves of the far right – I suppose this is one area where academic research and disciplines and think tanks [point no. 8] will come in very handy!

    Finally, about point 9 – James is right about the need to engage constructively with the media. However, it is important to distinguish [especially for practical purposes, not just in moral terms] media operators who are merely ‘biased’ [we all have backgrounds and pasts after all] from those who effectively function as the PN’s fifth column.

    Thanks for reading this far!

    Raymond Grech

  41. Marie Abdilla said

    In his posting [No.38] Professor Dominic Fenech urges caution and moderation and states that he thinks that some of the postings are “very aggresive, even hateful in respect to some candidates”. We all have our biases and preferences – I myself do and I clearly state them, up front, in my postings. Profs Fenech has them too, and although he does not state them here it is common knowledge where his sympathies lie. But stating fact has nothing to do with not being inclusive and alienation and “disasters” and “electoral losses” or being “hateful” and “aggressive”!

    I agree hundred per cent with Professor Fenech that this should be a,”a campaign to choose what is best for the Labour Party”. That is why it is important that we discuss the merits and demerits of all the candidates, using arguments backed by fact and not to be hateful or agressive as Profs Fenech accuses us of being. As in all crucial decisions we must chose the best candidate not just on how charismatic he or she is but also based on their past performance.

    I also agree with Profs Fenech that it would be a grave mistake if “the candidates who fail to win the leadership have no further place in the party”. That is why I truly admire Joseph Muscat. He has made it clear every time he has spoken that all the contestants will have a major role in the Party if he becomes Leader.

    The position of Leader should go to the person who is charismatic (they all are to varying degrees) most inclusive, most forward looking, with the least baggage, but in my opinion also the one that we can trust to be there for the Party and be a team player no matter what, as well as someone who doesn’t play around with words, but speaks the truth. The other contestants will, one is to expect, be given positions according to their strengths but also within the limits of their weaknesses.

    A rescue team, out to save a drowning man, doesn’t have as it’s head someone who can’t be trusted to follow established rescue criteria or who is not a team player. This person might be an excellent administrator, or excellent at providing support and using his talents for such jobs, is the logical thing to do but to send him out in the field risking the failure of the mission because he is lacking…. that dear Professor Fenech is madness!

    Marie Abdilla

  42. danny attard said

    Professor Fenech rightly appeals for caution and moderation.

    Caution and moderation has to be exercised in many ways and forms.

    As an example, it is neither cautious nor moderate to suggest that only one of the five contestants has what it takes and should the labour delegates elect anyone other than the ‘obvious choice’ they will be condemning the labour Party to become a Permanent Opposition Party.

    I find such a stand to be neither cautious nor moderate and singularly disloyal. Besides rubbishing in one fell swoop all other contenders, such a stand plays in the hands of Labour’s hostile press-adversaries and ensures that any leader other than ‘the obvious choice leader’ will have to embark on the challenges in hand with a grave handicap.

    May caution and moderation characterise the remaining weeks and may all contenders lay the grounds for a unified future. Most contenders have been working in this spirit.

    Danny Attard

  43. J. Borg said

    Hi all!

    In this link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/06/16/nletter116.xml&page=1 you can find a reproduction of a letter which Tony Blair had sent to the than Labour leader Michael Foot, back in 1982. It is interesting to note that there are some analogies between the present situation of the MLP and the situation in which the British Labour Party found itself at the time when Blair wrote this letter. I think that the parts which relate mostly to the MLP today are those in which Blair writes about the over self-criticism by Party members, the situation where there would/could be a sub-group within the Party (thus a Party within a Party) and the part where he talks about the need of change and how there could be a generation divide within the Party and how this could lead to conflict. Enjoy 🙂

    J. Borg

  44. Marie Abdilla, you can, you will continue to put down a specific candidate–let’s call him candidate X–and throw him as much spin as you like. You do it in the interest, as you see it, of candidate Y. (The fact that you claim you do this in the ultimate interest of the party is neither here not there.) But candidate Y (like everyone else) is saying he is all for inclusiveness. So where does this leave candidate X and those who see eye to eye with him in the inclusiveness equation, after people like you have finished having all their fun?

    Dominic Fenech

  45. Marie Abdilla said

    Professor Fenech, ma nafx xi trid tghid biha “people like you (that is me) have finished having all their fun”.

    You accuse me of spin. Altru li mhux spin on my part! Everything I said about George Abela is fact as the two Front Page stories in Illum of today Sunday April 27, “Il-parir ta’ Alfred Mifsud lil Sant dwar George Abela” and “L-Ezekuttiv li ddecieda favur elezjoni bikrija” blatantly show. Iswed fuq l-abjad!!

    … u mhux qed naghmlu ghall-interesss tal-ebda kandidat imma nghid dak li nahseb u nara li bil-fatti hu s-sewwa.

    You ask where does this leave Abela and those who see eye to eye with him in the inclusiveness equation, including you, Professor Fenech? I’m nothing in the Party so I haven’t the authority to speak but based on what the other candidates are saying I believe the way foward is to make the most of all those who wish to work for Labour, according to their merits, and both you and George Abela have many merits and positive points and have much to give as long as we all work for the common good and are team players, rallying behind the Leader best suited to lead us to victory. But team players is the key word here. No prima donnnas please!!

    Marie Abdilla

  46. Dear Marie Abdilla, it took well over 24 hours for my latest post to make an appearance, and next to nothing for your reposte to catch up with it. One reaches one’s conclusions. Anyway, the substance of what I wrote is not challenged.

  47. Tazebao Caretaker said

    WE HAVE BEEN RECEIVING INCREASING QUANTITY OF SPAM. SPAM-SUSPECT MAIL IS AUTOMATICALLY DIVERTED TO A SPAM FOLDER PENDING VERIFICATION. WE FILTER MATERIAL IN THIS FOLDER NOT LESS THAN ONCE EVERY 24 HOURS TO RELEASE NON-SPAM ITEMS CAUGHT IN THE NET. WE APOLOGISE TO THE SEVERAL CONTRIBUTORS WHOSE COMMENTS WERE THUS DELAYED.

    THE CARETAKER

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