Labour in labour

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

And now, please, back to the future … (Part II)

Posted by fcb on May 10, 2008

The run-up to the Extraordinary General Conference of the Labour Party has not been a waste of time. It was a healthy exercise in internal party democracy. We are deeply moved by the ruling Nationalist Party’s concern for the way things are done inside the opposition Labour Party and for their support for those members of our Party who petitioned for amendments to the Statute to substitute the Delegates of the General Conference with all paid-up members of the Labour Party. Although we do not recall witnessing any support for amendments to the Statutes of the Nationalist Party to enable all paid-up members of the Nationalist Party to directly elect their ‘Kap’, we are nevertheless certain that the intense interest shown by Nationalist media and by the media aligned with them (this too is certainly a purely random occurrence) in the proposed changes to the Labour Party’s statute, were motivated by a pure love of democracy and in no way reflected a partisan agenda.

Meanwhile the Extraordinary General Conference met, deliberated and voted.  At thirty minutes past midnight of today, May 10, 2008, the MLP Electoral Commission, having completed the counting of the votes and duly reconciled the results, announced that an overwhelming majority of Delegates had chosen not to approve the motion.  ‘Labour in labour’ was the first to go online with the results!  Our reading is that the Delegates were principally concerned with the timing of the proposed changes to the Statute and not with the substance of the proposed amendment. We have no doubt that in different circumstances, the overwhelming majority of delegates would have been delighted to agree to the direct election of the Party Leader. We have also no doubt that, in different circumstances, all of the contestants of the coming election for the post of Leader, would have wholeheartedly agreed to the proposed changes. We do not exclude that the future Leader of the Labour Party will, in due course, herself or himself propose such a change. What greater sense of democratic committemnt could be expected from the ‘Kap’ of the Nationalist Party Lawrence Gonzi if, at that point, he were to propose the same changes to the Statute of the Nationalist Party?

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43 Responses to “And now, please, back to the future … (Part II)”

  1. Andrew Sciberras said

    It has come to my attention that several PN apologists have expressed sincere regret, some of them sheer disapproval and dismay, at the outcome of this vote. The newest fad or spin, call it what you will, is that the MLP is run by a bunch of authoritarian despots rather than democratically elected representatives called delegates. It clearly emerges, from their discourse and rhetoric, that the entire notion of representative democracy is the nemesis of democracy in general; of democracy at large.

    When questioned about the way things are handled in their own party they are quick to respond: Well our system works and yours doesn’t. See we got elected three times in a row and that ain’t such an easy feat.

    Which brings me to the conclusion that the concern isn’t really about seeking democratic change but, rather, about demonizing the internal workings of the MLP and the delegates themselves. Moreover, the reality shows that most of NP supporters are veritably fond of George Abela; the man who proposed this motion in the first place. Now one wonders whether the NP apologists see this overwhelming disapproval of the motion as a vote of no confidence in George Abela who they are quick to describe as the ‘Saviour’ and ‘Prophet’ of the MLP, nay, of Malta itself. Perhaps the general perception is that Abela’s only chance to be elected is through the members themselves rather than the demonic, despotic and distasteful delegates. In all probability we are yet to hear more lamentation regarding the party machinery (which now includes also the delegates rather than Jason Micallef and the so called bella compania) is backing Joseph Muscat, etc etc.

    But no one truly knows the outcome. Maybe there were several delegates who are pro-George Abela and voted against this motion. Maybe there were several delegates who are pro-Joseph Muscat and voted in favour of this motion. Maybe Michael Falzon, although silent, is emerging as a potential winner. Nobody knows exactly how the outcome will be. I do not exclude the possibility that the outcome of this defeat has hurt George’s chances. But it does not mean that Joseph is a definite winner either. Whats the saying…ah, yes…”A week is a long time in politics.”

    The result of this motion should dissuade no one; should not make any particular candidate become complacent. There is still some time left to go. One wonders if the candidates will step it up a notch and whether the race will get…’dirtier’…now that 5th June is closer on the horizon.

    Andrew Sciberras

  2. Abel Abela said

    Dear FCB, you wrote:
    “Our reading is that the Delegates were principally concerned with the timing of the proposed changes to the Statute and not with the substance of the proposed amendment. We have no doubt that in different circumstances, the overwhelming majority of delegates would have been delighted to agree to the direct election of the Party Leader. We have also no doubt that, in different circumstances, all of the contestants of the coming election for the post of Leader, would have wholeheartedly agreed to the proposed changes. We do not exclude that the future Leader of the Labour Party will, in due course, herself or himself propose such a change. What greater sense of democratic committmemt could be expected from the ‘Kap’ of the Nationalist Party Lawrence Gonzi if, at that point, he were to propose the same changes to the Statute of the Nationalist Party?”

    I don’t have a crystal ball, so my reading is different. You say delegates were not principally concerned with the substance of the amendment. I think were were. Under which ‘circumstances’ – worse than the third electoral defeat in a row – will delegates agree to a direct election? You seem to be sure that the future leader will get the ball rolling to implement this idea of widening the voting base. You see, this is essentially the problem in Labour: The leader wants this, the leader wants that; the leader agrees to this, the leader agrees to that.

    Admittedly, the plan to get Labour delegates to grant voting rights to card holders was botched from the start. Realistically if short-sightedly, which assembly has ever been willing to vote itself out of power? And from day 1, the motion was perceived as a plan to get you-know-who into the driving seat. The timing was bad, and the idea was not allowed to mature organically. There was no attempt to educate the delegates to make an informed choice. Indeed, if you will forgive me this generalization, a sound political education seems to be utterly lacking among the delegates, unless you choose to equate the sharp art of door-to-door fund raising with an education.

    Yesterday’s vociferous criticism overlooked one essential point. The voice of 19,000 Labourites would have been a positive source of strength for the party. The voice of 19,000 individuals who hold no form of authority in the party can only be an honest voice. There’s no way paid up members by June 2007 could have known that they would be getting more than their money’s worth – a LM2 ticket to appoint a new MLP leader . Fact is, 620 MLP delegates shot down the proposal to widen the party’s decision making base in the most crucial of decisions – that of choosing the party leader. In doing that, they shot themselves in the foot. They miss out on a golden opportunity to mobilize the support of 19,000 members. It is a fundamental principle about organizations that any process which widens the decision-making base strengthens the organization. In failing to realize that yesterday’s option would have STRENGTHENED them as delegates rather than WEAKENED them, the delegates have painted themselves in a corner.

    The whole thing has been hopelessly mismanaged. It sends the wrong signal to Labour’s 141,000 voters, who are aching to see the party become electable again. These voters are not Labour’s by divine right.

    I was not at all surprised with the outcome of the vote. But I was shocked to see the poisoned darts shot ferociously by ‘New Labourites’ against fellow party members. What future can there be for any organization where healthy debate leads to accusations of trojanism, where restructuring is understood only in terms of unseating people, and where self-criticism is blasphemy? Dissent, which is the essence of self-criticism, in no way undermines the unity of a party. Factionalism does that. But unfortunately people who dissent are swiftly being labelled with the badge of treason.

    This is hardly the way forward for Labour. Whoever is elected leader on 5 June risks becoming an irrelevant detail if 2013 will have already been lost in the first 90 days.

    Abel Abela

  3. Paul Degabriele said

    CARETAKER’s NOTE: BROUGHT OVER FROM ORIGINAL LOCATION FOR EASY REFERENCE:

    May 10, 2008 at 9:00 am

    One step forward towards a functioning MLP. As far as I am concerned, the sooner a leader is elected, the better it is for those who are blatantly being discriminated against – not necessarily only Labour supporters only – and for our micro island state!

    This is especially true and urgent now that GonziPN’s only allies are the land speculators and some of the politically stronger, sleazy and corrupt MPs. Never in the history of the island has a party been elected on an agenda so completely based on “pjaciri mhux drittijiet” and associated “hmieg”.

    Let’s got on with it. We have wasted enough time already.

    Paul Degabriele

  4. Etienne Pullicino said

    CARETAKER’s NOTE: BROUGHT OVER FROM ORIGINAL LOCATION FOR EASY REFERENCE:

    May 10, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Nobody in her/his right senses would disagree with Paul Degabriele about the need for the Labour Party to move on as fast as possible now to the election of its Leader and then do what an Opposition is, constitutionally, meant to do: OPPOSE!

    What I disagree with is Paul’s suggestion that we have wasted our time since the announcement of our electoral defeat. It has not been a waste of time at all. Evidently there were around 120 (out of about 900) delegates who were ready to sacrifice precious time and energy in order to make enhance the chances of victory for one-time deputy leader Dr. George Abela. They had every legal right to do so and were immediately granted that right by a Party (whose image of hardness is quite frankly just an urban legend).

    Democracy, dear Paul, is NEVER a waste of time.

    Regards,

    Etienne Pullicino

  5. Angelo Mallia said

    CARETAKER’S NOTE: BROUGHT OVER FROM ORIGINAL LOCATION FOR EASY REFERENCE:

    May 10, 2008 at 9:42 am

    The Nats and their choir of fat cats, stray cats, randy cats, neutered cats, skin and bones cats, pure breed cats, not-so-pure cats, strict-observance-Roman-Apostolic-Catholic cats, not-so-strictly-RC-observant cats, cats of the old Mizzinian school, cats of the once-antagonistic Stricklandjani breed, moderate cats, in-your-face dafnian cats etc will now condemn the 620 Labour delegates regularly chosen by regularly paid-up members from over 60 local sections, 13 district committees, party organisations (women, youth etc) plus the parliamentary group and the candidates’ section for having brutally suppressed 165 Labour delegates.

    Angelo Mallia

  6. Paul Degabriele said

    Yes, democracy is never a waste of time…. so say many academics and intellectuals agree. But is the ordinary man and woman as concerned about democracy,and its fine tuning, as many of us who are writing on this board are? Take the ex-Nationalist Party: are its leaders or those who voted it into power concerned about democracy? Are the Nazzjon people and the editors of the conservative English-language papers concerned about democracy in Malta? I would say they have priorities, conserving power is thier NO 1 priority, defending their dolce vita and damage control is their NO 2; democracy is at the very end, and only reverts back to NO 1 when MLP is voted into power: democracy for these is a mere political expediency dear! Therefore, for the sake of ordinary people,for the sake of honest and hardworking business people, for those who did not vote PN, for those who feel cheated and short-changed, let the MLP leadership contestants get on with it. After all, this is not about the interests of the individual, but about the interest of the Nation. Let there be a leader soon, the sooner the better!

    Paul Degabriele

  7. fabrizioellul said

    Good post. Loved the first paragraph 🙂

    Personally, I’m quite disappointed that it did not go through, as many labourites are.

    Yet, the fact that the candidates got a chance to open up to the media was a sign of changing. I truly think that in the future the members will be given the chance to vote. The fact that it went through to the general conference means that it is already a good sign. It is definitely more than the conservatives ever did.

    What I see as a waste of time is the next month, especially since the members will not vote. The delegates have already formed there minds. No doubt about it. So I think the candidates should stop going to media.

    I stick to my guns: Abela/Muscat with Bartolo as third; though I like Gulia and Toni Abela. Either way, I’m pretty sure that more or less the team is that. If the Labour wants to be the alternative to the one man show that the PN is, I think that is the direction that it should go.

    BTW – open the champagne, the parliament opened its doors.

    Fabrizio Ellul

  8. Marie Falzon said

    In principle the motion was a good thing. Widening the electoral base is always positive. However this was definitely the wrong time. Such a drastic change should and I believe will be made when the Party is more stable and better able to focus on logistics. Also I think the motion was doomed from the outset due to the George Abela crowd having used it for their egoistical personal interest and to forward their agenda. The delegates with their political astuteness did the right thing.

  9. Not Cain said

    Abel Abela wrote:

    “Admittedly, the plan to get Labour delegates to grant voting rights to card holders was botched from the start. Realistically if short-sightedly, which assembly has ever been willing to vote itself out of power? And from day 1, the motion was perceived as a plan to get you-know-who into the driving seat.{…} The whole thing has been hopelessly mismanaged.”

    Who mismanaged what? I had the impression – but I stand to be corrected – that the bid to get the Conference (ie the Delegates) to approve a motion to amend the Statute so as to broaden the number of electors for Party leader to include all paid up members, originated in the camp of the person Abela Abela prefers to call (rather to coily for my tastes) “you-know-who”.

    If Abel is right (and I agree that he is) to ask: “Realistically if short-sightedly, which assembly has ever been willing to vote itself out of power?”, then why on earth did “you-know-who” allow his supporters to do just that? By doing nothing to stop them he may have dented his own reputation as a far-seeing operator with his head solidly upon his shoulders. As things stand now, he will have to devote time in the next three weeks to convince us that he is wiser than he may have been made to appear in the past week or so by some of his friends.

    Moreover, could it really be that “you-know-who” did not disapprove of the individuals who ultimately fronted this project? Why did he accept to place his (and the Party’s fortunes) in the hands of such intellectual light-weights?

    The prospects were surely greater before this botched operation. Initially, “you-know-who” had the powerful backing of at least one intellectual and political heavy-weight (Lino Spiteri) and at least two middle-weights di tutto rispetto (Alfred Mifsud, a former chairman of Super One, and Dominic Fenech, a former general secretary of the Party). Quite frankly, he did not need mentors of lesser stoffa.

    With all due respect to Marlene Pullicino (who, to her credit, did tell the media that her initiative was independent of “you-know-who”‘s bid to broaden the Leader’s electorate), shouldn’t “you-know-who” have made an effort to explain to her that hers was the proverbial case of venturing on ground best avoided even by angels?

    The lady has done “you-know-who” a great disservice. Abel Abela is right, the “whole thing has been hopelessly mismanaged”. With friends like her, “you-know-who” needs no enemies. She has so far shown that she has no idea of stakeholder management, ABC for a young modern politician. And in the process she has not done much for her image.

    I am not, let’s be crystal clear, holding her sympathies against her, but only her lack of understanding that what she did was bound to fail. I, for one, could not give a hoot for the lady’s political reputation. But I do care for “you-know-who”‘s because I believe that he should be in the team that will rid this country of Gonzi & co in 2013.

    Not Cain to my brother Abela [Author’s identity known to Caretaker]

  10. Abel Abela said

    “Good in principle…..but not now”. When, if not now?
    Botched, mismanaged, ill-conceived, logistically nightmarish… you can find all the adjectives to dismiss the motion. But it would have made a fundamental difference to Labour emerging from its third defeat in a row. Even if the leadership vote is extended to members the day after 5 June 2008, it will not be the same. I hope no one dreams up the CHARADE of having party members ‘confirming’ the dear leader in mid-term.

    That such a healthy expansion of the democratic platform should have been associated rightly or wrongly from the start with one particular candidate, shows how botched and mismanaged the whole thing was on all sides. And the things said by members who are normally level headed and should know better – like intom fejn kontu u fejn ma kontux – are really a sign of weakness, not of strength.

    Do they realize that voters out there are watching and reaching their own conclusions?

    Abel Abela

  11. Abel Abela said

    “Not Cain”, I am four square with you. My point is that it’s not just one particular candidate’s electoral chances which are seriously affected here. Here is my two cents: There will be consequences for the party as a whole. From the inside, people within the party are reading the whole voting process as proof of Labour’s democratic credentials. But from the outside, people outside Labour will have a hard time to understand why a seemingly positive move to widen the democratic platform after an electoral defeat, was blocked by an overwhelming 80% of delegates. This sends out the wrong message to people who are not amongst Labour’s 141,000 voters. It’s NOT enough for Labour to say: “See, we are democrats. We dare the PN to do this”. From the inside, it looks like an overwhelming vote of confidence in the present party structures. Superficially, those 80% may think they won this round by ‘refusing to have their strings pulled’. But from the outside, they seem fenced in, desperately holding on to their seats and blocking change. In many cases, these are the delegates who steered Labour through its consecutive electoral defeats, and who know something about puppeteering and being puppeteered.

    And, yes, it’s yet again the classic case in Maltese politics of “Dear God, protect me from my friends … and from myself!”

    Abel Abela

  12. Andrew Sciberras said

    The way things are headed, with Labourites quarreling amongst themselves and the press jumping on the bandwagon ridiculing everything the MLP does or says is a very sad thing to witness. I hear that Joe Saliba said that the PN ‘ha jigri bina’ which I believe is correct because the MLP is sinking off the face of the earth and we are heading towards the ultimate goal and dream of a handful of men and women: A One Party State.

    What a shame the Electoral Commission decided this election was to be held in June rather than April. It could possibly be the biggest mistake the MLP has ever done in its history. Only time will tell. What a shame the MLP was forced into a lose-lose situation in this extraordinary general conference. It will most probably split the party.

    One thing is for sure. Hold on to your seats. These are very sad times.

    Andrew Sciberras

  13. Paul Degabriele said

    OK, Abel & Cain, fine, pat yourselves on your broad backs, congratulate yourselves reciprocally on your outstanding wits, feed to bursting on your self-righteousness, but don’t you think it’s finally time for someone to kick some ass!

    His sanctimonious holyness Lawrence Gonzi is carrying on like he owns this country, and we engage in metaphysical debates in the manner of medieval theologians regarding the relative merits of direct and representative democracy inside the Labour Party. You go on and on about what the Labourites outside of the General Conference think of the defeat of Marlene Pullicino’s brilliantly botched project to bring democracy to the Labour Party…

    Don’t be ridiculous! What the Labourites out there (actually out here) really want from their Party is less navel-gazing and more Government-bashing in the name of democracy!

    Now get out here and do something about it!

    Paul Degabriele

    PS: Iva, inkazzatissmu u nittama li tifmhu ghaliex!

  14. Maria Duluri said

    On March 30, I hit one Anglu x’riha on the head with my wooden karkur for complaining that all this discussion was vilifying us Labourites in the eyes of the Nation!

    I wrote: “He seems to suggest that the leadership contest in the Labour party is exposing acrimonious rivalry that may prove to be the party’s downfall in the end. Untrue. Unfair.”

    And today I find myself having to tell off our young Andrew Sciberras for the same reason.
    Andreeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwww! No time for moping, wipe your tears and give us a smile 🙂

    Who told you that a little discussion is going to split the Party! When, after 1987, we set out to clean up the Party, we faced the mighty and arrogant barons of our era and their retinue of assorted thugs and we threw them out or domesticated them…and I assure you that the infighting was not done with today’s white gloves…more with boxing gloves. Did the Party split? Of course not! We seem to forget this ever happened!

    Andrew, stop moaning and and roll up wour shirt sleves, there is loads of work to be done, especially after June 5th when we’ll turn our attention to this rotten GonziPN government and begin to dismantle it, kantun wara kantun, cangun wara l-iehor…

    …we will need bright young men and women like you. Can’t you see that oqbra mbajda like Joe Saliba want you to believe what they say! Paxxih ukoll! Kuragg! We can, we will!

    Maria Duluri [Author’s name known to Caretaker]

  15. Andrew Sciberras said

    To continue from my previous post…perhaps releasing the tension that has been culminating and which has now reached boiling point is exactly what is needed for the MLP. I hope not to sound extreme but by extension of the phrase ‘taking the good from the bad’ even a possible split has its benefits because there are two factions which are unfortunately saying the same thing but are aggressively pulling different ends of the rope. Or maybe one is moving towards victory and a better life and the other is simply out to murder that possibility just like Abel and Cain. Silly monkeys. Give them thumbs, they forge a club and beat their own brother down whilst the rest are on the sidelines baffled and confused. It is because of this non-sense that 21 year old people like me feel disenfranchised from politics and the more they try to get involved and the more they try to help the more they are disillusioned by it all. “Father” blessed us all with reason and this is what they choose: Division over Unity. How they survive so misguided is a mystery. Cut it all right in two. [Words inspired by Tool].

    Guys, the enemy is not ourselves. The enemy is that group of people that believe they can do as they please with anyone and anything. The enemy is that group of people that believe they can do anything with our environment as long as it benefits their pockets. The enemy is that group of people that blatantly control the media in order to manufacture consent and control public opinion. The enemy is that group of people who believe that they can mould a malleable opposition into a model that suits them. The enemy is that group of persons that control your thought and the way you should live your life. The enemy is that group of people who hinder our progression, our solidarity, and makes donkeys and mules out of us; lab rats spinning on wheels in a tiny cage.

    Do you want this to keep on happening in Malta? Is this the Malta you dream about? The most conservative and one of the most corrupt States in Europe? The State that is trailing behind everyone because of the obstacles that “the man” stamps in everyone’s minds and lives hindering our collective progression and that of future generations?

    Dear Jason Micallef, Lino Spiteri, Domnic Fenech, Alfred Mifsud, Alfred Sant, George Vella, George Abela, Joseph Muscat, Evarist Bartolo, Michael Falzon, Marie Louise Coleiro, is that what you want? I don’t think so but a part of me doesn’t exclude the possibility.

    Please. Unite us. Let go of your misguided and distasteful prejudices and unite us. I don’t give a s**t that I cannot, as a member, vote for the leader. I just want a united left that truly wants a different and a better Malta, one which is deserving of governance. Malta needs it more than anything now. Acting like silly monkeys will get you nowhere and if it is your intention to break the Left than we kindly ask you to f**k off and find somewhere else to sulk. We already have too many people trying to break the Left and we surely don’t need more.

    Yours faithfully,
    Andrew Sciberras

  16. Rachel Zarb said

    Come you armchair critics! Let’s get going! Remember: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

    Has anybody read George Abela’s interview on Il-lum ?
    Read it and comment it!

    Rachel Zarb

  17. Zeppi said

    Viva Indri’! Viva Indri’!
    Hej! Hej! Hej!

    Zeppifucjus jghid:

    “Tghallem mill-imghdoddi biex tiffacca l-gejjeni b’aktar ghaqal u kuragg!”

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

  18. Abel Abela said

    Dear friends,

    Thanks for publishing my rantings on this website.

    I just wanted to say two things:

    1. There is a healthier unity in a polyphony of different voices than in unanimity. Let no one mistake polyphony for cacophony. We all share the same values. But the left will always be the left. We’re not dead yet; and we will change this place if it’s the last thing we’ll do! Hasta el socialismo siempre!

    2. Let’s make Labour the majority party. Let it open up so that it can grow – and halt Malta’s free fall into a one-party state.

    Abel

  19. Gilbert Borg said

    I voted Labour last March, abstained in 2003, voted Labour in 1996, voted AD in 1992, and PN in 1987. This makes me a floating voter, or a pinnur. But, as far as I am concerned, the election campaign for 2013, started last March with the campaign for the new leadership for MLP. As an outsider, it seems to me that most of the contestants are more interested in their personal gain than in their love of the MLP. We are getting the impression that MLP is made up of klikkek; klikkek ta Sant, klikkek ta Abela, etc. Are there no klikkek in the PN? Of course there are, but these debate inside the party! Frankly, I don’t give a toss about superdemocracy, and the political correctness inside the MLP’s inner workings. What I am interested in is to have a leader of the opposition who will be intelligent and strong enough to put forward MY AGENDA (not his or Mintoff’s, or some other klikka), that is to rid us of this corrupt decadent PN administration. Just as MLP did with Sant after 1992. I, like thousands of others worry ONLY about OUR jobs, OUR families and OUR future, NOT about the future of democracy within the Labour Party! Hopefully the Caretaker will not wipe clean my comments!

    Gilbert Borg

  20. Raymond Grech said

    I have to go with Paul Degabriele on this one – let’s all get back to the business of electing a leader. Yes. It is a pity, perhaps, that the MLP missed the opportunity to move to a ‘one member one vote’ electoral system, but then I’m not sure that the time or ‘climate’ were right for such a move.

    Blaming the party machine for the result is easy, perhaps natural, but disingeuous. Had the groundswell of support for the amendment, and widespread antipathy to the machine, really existed outside the imaginations and columns of sundry armchair critics/spin doctors I would have expected the promoters of the amendment to accompany the 120-delegate signatures with a petition signed by at least half the MLP’s paid-up membership.

    In my view that it is significant that they did not do so. It is also interesting that someone set up a blog for this purpose very early in the campaign, but unlike this blog here that one failed to take off.

    After three general election losses in a row, and in the absence of the various perks which only a party in government can deliver (and which I’m sure played their part the last time that a major Maltese political party deigned to give the world a lesson in how to democratically elect a leader), it should have been easy to mobilise the base without the help, even in spite of, the party machine.

    Perhaps the promoters didn’t really want their motion to be approved (!!!!!), but let’s not go there.

    I do not share Andrew’s misgivings about the length of the electoral campaign. Holding the election in April would have given ammunition to anyone – both outside and inside of the MLP – who wanted to undermine the legitimacy of the result by invoking the machine’s intervention, i.e by suggesting a quick vote allowed the machine’s anointed to stitch up all the others before they could find their feet.

    He may be right about the MLP heading towards a split, however. My own favourite (sic) nightmare scenario is a split, followed by a snap General Election (which the PN and their allies will blame on the MLP), in which Labour voters stay away in droves and those that do vote cancel each other out by spreading out over two parties each claiming the tattered MLP mantle, to the benefit of the PN, which will be returned with over two-thirds of the seats, giving it the right to amend the Constitution unilaterally (out goes the neutrality clause). We may even get one or two AN MPs – that would really put the icing on the cake (the only consolation would be that AN is apparently more grown up and ‘European’ about gay rights than the PN!).

    But enough with far-fetched what-if scenarios. Ladies and gentlemen what we need is an Alexander (or Alexandra) who can surprise our various critics (friendly or otherwise) by cutting through the Gordian knot – let’s not make things worse by losing sight of our target. Maria Duluri – keep your karkur handy!

    Raymond Grech

  21. J. Borg said

    Tonight I heard on the news that GA asked for an apology for the way in which Labour “insulted” “university students” during the electoral campaing. I’m a university student who attended that debate myself, and if there’s anyone who has to ask for an apology that’s not Labour, for sure. I think that calling those who went there to attack and ridicule Dr Sant “hamalli” was unfair…to the hamalli. It’ so obvious that GA has a personal hatred for Alfred Sant….otherwise he wouldn’t be making such statements which legitimise the way in which those hamalli acted.

    Lately I had been seeing GA in a more positive light…however his statement helped me to open my eyes about what’s the real reason is why he wants to become leader…some sort of revenge on Sant. It was never my intention to comment on any of the contestants, however today GA exceeded all limits. This is like having a Rabbi asking the Nazis for an apology for the insults they received from Jews. George, give us a break, will you?

    J. Borg

  22. marie abdilla said

    I agree with J Borg Post 21. I too was starting to see Abela in a better light after he stopped bad mouthing everything that has to do with the MLP for about a week but today he was at it again. Shame! Apologise to that rabble rent a crowd for their rudeness??!! They should have been the ones to apologise.

    Well George Abela you accomplished your mission today – Net had you and then repeated the University scenario with George Vella in the background. Kompli paxxihom George u weggha lil Laburisti ta’ veru.

    How can George Abela ever be credible if he keeps on insulting Labour all the time. He sounds like GonziPN No. 2!

    Marie Abdilla

  23. Abel Abela said

    Ma nistax nifhem kif xi hadd jista’ jitlob apologija f’isem haddiehor. Dan l-individwu x’kellu x’jaqsam ma’ dik l-attivita’? F’socjeta’ suppost civili kulhadd ghandu jaghti kont ta’ ghemilu. Min ma jafx x’inhu rispett problema tieghu, izda ma mmurx nitkellem mieghu. Smajna xi apologija wahda minn dawn iz- zghazagh privileggjati li mit-taxxi tal-poplu suppost qed jedukaw ruhhom biex ghada jkunu professjonisti? Hawn xi hadd qed jahseb li l-kummiedja ta’ dakinhar ma kinitx orkestrata minn qabel?
    Kemm se nibqghu ghaddejjin b’dan ic-cirklu politiku.
    Bravi, komplu mlew il-bulettini tan-NET.

    Abel

  24. Joe Vella said

    Nahseb li Malta hu l-uniku pajjiz “socjalist” fid-dinja, ghax imkien ma ssib li l-istudenti jistudjaw b’xejn, u jinghataw ukoll stipendju, imhallsa mit-taxxi tieghi! Kieku, kull problema li ghandna f’Malta hi solvuta, kieku ma jkun xejn hazin. Imma li kull gurnata id-dejn ta Malta dejjem tiela’ b’rata fenominali, dan hu genn, u lixka u sajda tajba ghal-voti! Ghallinqas, l-istudenti ghandhom jigu “means tested” biex dawk il-genituri li jistghu ihallsu, inaqqsu il-piz fuq dawk il-Maltin l-ohra, u refuggjati u zvinturati emigranti ohra, li huma aktar fil-bzonn, jigu mghejjuna aktar. Barra minn hekk, iz-zejt dejjem tiela’, il-commodities ittajru ‘l fuq, l-ekonomija dinija ( ahna ahna jew m’ahniex) se tiehu shock enormi, il-prijoritajieghandhom ikunu razzjonali mhux elettorali. Ghaldaqstant, apologija lil dawn l-istudenti, li mhumiex “means tested” hija insult ghal min hu fil-bzonn. Viva Mintoff.

    Joe Vella

  25. Marie Abdilla said

    In all fairness not all University students are like the rent a crowd that was at the University that day. I know because I was one of them! Besides many in the crowd were not students at all – Peppi l-Kundutur, Daphne, her sister, u la bella kumpanija, doing what they do best to safeguard their interests – il-Partit Nazzjonalista. Nothing new! What makes my blood boil is that someone who aspires to become the Leader of the Party should bring up a past event where the PN got the better of not just Alfred Sant but of the whole Labour Party – every single one of us Laburisti u jerga jaghtihom l-opportunita biex jergghu issawtuna. Minghalih biex jidher kemm hu helu u bravu. U tghid mhux hekk Dottor Abela. Kompli paxxihom u weggha l-Laburisti.

    Good point Abel Abela how can someone apologise for someone else. Mhux cara li gebbidha biex johrog tal-helu.

    Marie Abdilla

  26. J. Borg said

    Sur Vella, Malta mhux l-uniku pajjiz fejn hemm edukazzjoni b’xejn u fejn jinghataw grants/stupendji. Imma pajjizi differenti juzaw sistemi differenti. Jien ma naqbilx mal-means testing ghax jista jkollok xi hadd li gej minn-familja komda imma l-genituri ma jridux jinugh fl-iskola jew ikollhom mard fil-familja etc. etc. Sistema li nahseb tkun tajba hi li la darba l-istudenti jiggradwaw, u jkunu stabli fix-xoghol, ihallsu lura bin-nifs l-flus li jkunu inghataw.
    Rigward li Malta hi l-iktar pajjiz Socjalista….hemm differenza bejn gvern/partit/sistema socjalista u bejn gvern “generuz”. Rigward li talba ghal-apologija m’ghand dawk l-istudenti li kulhadd jafu x’ghamlu waqt dak is-suppost dibattitu (u min ikun qed jitlob ghal-apologija jkun qed jitloba lill-DAWK l-istudenti u mhux lill-istudenti kollha) naqbel mieghek li insult.

  27. danny attard said

    Received this piece from an Australian friend of mine who draws parallels between the Malta situation and the initiatives of a new Labour Government in Australia mitigating the globalisation fallout:

    ‘The political situation in Malta sounds stale, with the oncoming world recession I feel that there will be a big stir once the work component dries and real estate and property start slowing down, not propping up the economy. The speculators shy away from the property leaving a vacuum and the “slaves” become even poorer with their “nuts” in a vice and no choice but grovel for the crumbs. The speculators than live on the high interests generated by the depression, and do not need to invest in employment generating industries. We seem to follow the American way.

    The most worrying part is the brain drain which a place the size of Malta feels the impact of earlier than other countries and these would be the times that innovative people are needed. The Labour government has already moved a couple of major issues i.e. reconciliation with the indigenous community, got rid of individual work agreements and got the unions involved again. It was getting scary here the way the conservative government was trampling over people’s rights. We now have a backlash of these policies with unemployment being around 4%, husbands and wives both working and new families cannot afford to afford to buy their own houses as every body is working hard not earning enough money with casual work being the rule of the day. Unemployment figures is no longer a gauge of wellbeing as we now have what we call a significant number of ‘working-poor’ families. With this false economy created rents are hitting the roof so pensionaries and the disadvantaged are in dire straits. Labour has a big struggle ahead but started putting in place some strategies and also had 1000 of the brightest people come together, to start working on these issues’.

    Danny Attard

  28. historian said

    DCG article of 6th September 1998 entitled A government for half – it says:

    “Today’s winner would do well to remember all this. In Maltese elections, there is no such thing as victory. There is only relative victory, and a relative majority. Wise prime ministers should stay cogniscent of this brutal truth throughout their years in power, and proceed as though treading on eggs. Just as Caesar employed a slave to whisper into his ear “Remember you are mortal” so our prime ministers should have the message hung up, wherever they are most likely to see it throughout the day, “Remember you only represent 51 per cent of the population. The rest are against you. Given the chance they would throw you out on your ear.”

    Historian (Pseudonym. Author not known to Caretaker)

  29. Joe Vella said

    Sur J Borg, please, semmili fejn huma dawn il-pajjizi (b’Gross Domestic Product daqs taghna u anke li mhumiex) fejn l-edukazzjoni fl-universita hi b’xejn, u jinghata ukoll stipendju li mhux means tested. L-Amerka – il-pajjiz gwida ta l-istudenti specjalment fil-kultura taz-zaghzagh – mhix b’xejn u ma hemmx stipendji. Grants huma means tested, fil-waqt is-self li jkollhom jaghmlu l-istudenti mhumiex meqjusa bhala welfare! Imma nigu ghal dunkwe, xi kwalita’ ta cittadini hergin mill-universita? Kemm huma grati lejn dawk in-nies foqra u ohrajn li huma working poor, jew morda, jew verament fil-bzonn? Illum, kont il-Hamrun, u rajt sticker ta student universitarju fuq karozza sports, super lussuza li tiswa ghexieren ta eluf ta’ liri. Tara ohrajn (inkluz shabi) li jonfqu l-istipendju go Paceville. Vera mhux kulhadd imma jekk thares lejn il-karozzi ipparkjati l-universita tikkonferma il-prijoritajiet foloz li hawn. Mela, il-hamalli u l-ingradituni qabel l-elezzjoni, ta dawk l-istudenti quddiem A. Sant tesigi apologija, mill-MLP? Ir-Rev. Sarracino Inglott ( ix-xellugi, skond hu) ma jikkumentax fuq l-istudenti, mhux ghax m’ghandux posizzjoni, imma,ghax Ir-Rev hu komdu, u jigi u jaqa u jqum mill-fqar, u mill-emarginati u l-bzonnijiet taghhom! Xellugi, lemini, hekk ikanta Gaber f’album tieghu. F’Malta, il-borma ukoll qed tithawwad, imma min qed ihawwada. Leader futur ta l-MLP irid jghidilna il-prijoritajiet tieghu, u min huma il-hbieb ta gewwa tieghu…

    Joe Vella

    Joe Vella

  30. fabrizioellul said

    The quality of education in Malta is very poor. Children are thought everything but to think.

  31. Dorothy Camilleri said

    Finally,the deadline for the MLP administration is approaching fast. Everyone of the contestants had enough space time and liberty to express his ticket. Time warrants action against the oncoming problems; some due to international cause, others emanting from local sources. Hopefully, Gonzi, will show us how “possibli” is his mangement of the country. Next week will see a spike in the energy prices. This will have great repercussions on the local economy. Whilst with the previous recession in the 80’s we had huge foreign reserves, and sound manufacturing base, this time round, land speculation is the only activity with a strong economic momentum. If the building bubble bursts at the same time there is an uncontrollable spike in inflation, coupled with the close down (God forbid) of ST Microelectronics, everthing will be “possibli” indeed! This is why we need a dynamic labour leader who will have alternative ideas to the GonziPN spin, and oppose firmly but loyally, the indiscriminate use of the state for the devious GonziPN spin.

    Dorothy Camilleri

  32. J. Borg said

    Hello Joe Vella. Pajjizi li fihom l-universita hi b’xejn huma l-pajjizi Skandinavi, Singapore u ohrajn. L-UK m’ilux hafna dahlu sistema gdida li l-gvern jaghti flus lill-istudenti biex ihallsu ghall-universita umbghad dawk il-flus jithallsu lura meta l-istudenti jigradwaw. L-Irlanda l-universitajiet saru b’xejn ftit tas-snin ilu ukoll. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_university#Europe).

    Ma nahsibx li Malta falluta minhabba l-istipendji. Ma nahsibx li b’36 lira fix-xahar ha tixtri sports car. Fid-dinja tal-llum, biex l-ekonomija tizviluppa jrid ikollok nies “edukati” etc etc, Malta diga qeda zvantagjata ghax bhala % ghandna inqas nies minn-pajjizi ohra jkomplu jistudjaw. Jekk l-universita tigi bil-hlas ma nahsibx li n-numru ta’studenti jikber. Having said that, kultant nixtieq li jinqata l-istupendju ha nara x’jghidu dawk li marru jajtu gonzi gonzi.

    Rigward nies “xellugin” u li jivvutaw PN, kellna xempju nhar it-tnejn li ghaddew fuq Bondi+. Skond Mr gej-minn-familja-laburista-normann-vella l-MLP hu lemmini iktar mill-PN ghax ried inaqqas is-surcharge…eh sewwa, mela l-WEGHDA tal-PN li jnaqqas l-income tax ghall-25%, u li biha jgawdi l-iktar min jaqla l-iktar, mhix mizura leminija. Boq ma nafx jien.

  33. Andrew Sciberras said

    Hello again,

    I have carefully sifted through Alfred Mifsud’s newest survey today which he has published in the Malta Independent. Mifsud correctly points out that the Labour base is not enough for the MLP to win a general election. Mifsud also admits that his survey does not represent a proper overall analysis because it is not ‘adjusted for obvious reasons’ because, for example, 65% of the correspondents were female and pro-Labour correspondents are ‘over-represented’.

    Let me focus on the front-runners: Joseph Muscat and George Abela. The survey points out that George Abela lost a point amongst the floaters since his first survey (45% – 44%) and Joseph Muscat gained two points (22% – 24%). 34% of those who refused to declare their voting intentions want George Abela whereas 29% want Joseph Muscat. Apparently 64% of Labour supporters preferred Joseph Muscat in his first survey and this figure has dropped sharply to 41% in just one month. 26% of Labour supporters want George Abela. 54% of PN supporters want George Abela and only 12% want Joseph Muscat. Therefore in just 1 month the tables have turned completely putting George Abela in first place in all counts. Mifsud says that overall Abela has 37% of the support (an increase 13 points since the first survey) and Joseph Muscat has 29% of the support (a decrease in 16 points since the first survey).

    In conclusion everybody adores George and he is a guaranteed winner. His persistent attacks on the Labour party, media, delegates and the entire administration that played a role in 1992 – 2008 seem to be working wonders. The perception that Joseph Muscat is a clone of Alfred Sant and an embodiment of the status quo are adversely affecting Muscat’s bid for leadership. But the key word is perception and let me add, manipulation. Joseph Muscat has consistently stated that he does not stand for the status quo. He went as far as positing a metaphorical ‘earthquake’ of change that needs to happen at Mile End. But these statements are never given any attention. One can only wonder why. Here is another conundrum. To me it seems that Muscat is the only candidate that is categorically stating over and over again, in an attempt to drive the message home, that he has great respect for the other 4 candidates and that he will guarantee them a key role within the party should he be elected as leader, whereas if not elected, he will serve loyally in any position that is given to him by the new leader. This, also, is never given any attention and George Abela is the only one that is idolized as the stalwart of ‘inclusiveness’. I would like to know where George Abela stands if he is not elected as leader, or rather, if Joseph Muscat is elected as leader. Would he run away and raise his fists in anger like he did in 1998?

    The fact that George Abela has roughly 26% of the support of traditional Labourites does not really play in his favour. But Alfred Mifsud et al are quick to assume that it is only ‘natural’ that everyone will eventually rally around the leader. They forget that hundreds of Labour supporters refused to vote for Labour in 2008 so how exactly does everyone rally around the leader? Moreover is it not possible for, say, Joseph Muscat, if elected, to gain the favour of ‘floaters’ in his 5 years as party leader? I guess the response to that would be that it is ‘unnatural’. Alfred Mifsud also declared that he is ready to switch his endorsement if he sees some other candidate taking first place. How’s that for loyalty? But his intentions are noble. He wants the MLP in power at all costs. To me it is a clear case of rooting simply for the messenger and not the message. But I guess that’s the system that Maltese politics has degenerated into.

    Mr. Mifsud (if you ever read this), let me say that I have a lot of doubts about your survey. I very much doubt how a ‘party’ or a ‘person’ can lose 16 percentage points in just 1 month (or less than that even) unless it or he or she has done something completely stupid, irrational and out of proportion. Moreover, I find your assertion that ‘the floating voter is the most important client for a political party’ to be false. The most important asset to tip the scale in favour of one party or another are first-time voters and the vote of the youth. This category holds tens of thousands of people. Your persistent attacks (direct or indirect; revelatory or in-between-the-lines) and that of your colleagues on the Labour party’s past and present may gain favour with your run-of-the-mill Nationalist and perhaps the ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ floater. It certainly does not auger well with me. Good luck.

    Regards,
    Andrew Sciberras

  34. danny attard said

    This leadership contest has, in my opinion, highlighted a key area where the Maltese left has been found lacking – identity.
    Identity is dynamic and evolves in response to domestic/global realities. This process requires an on-going exploration of political ideas. The hurly burly environment of a political party grappling with daily dramatics may not perhaps provide the best platform for such discussion.

    A new leadership may want to encourage the development of such a platform, possibly through the regeneration of an organization, such as GEM, on the Fabian lines.

    The Fabian Society has over the last 100 years played an important role in the development of ideas and public policy on the left of centre which will define progressive politics in the new century.

    The society is a democratically-constituted membership organisation. It is affiliated to the Labour Party but is editorially and organisationally independent. Through its publications, seminars and conferences, the society provides an arena for open-minded public debate.

    All (UK) Labour Prime Ministers have been members of the Fabian Society, while the Young Fabians have been influential in creating debate and as an arena for young people with an interest in politics to both influence and learn from influential political figures.

  35. J. Borg said

    I found Dr Sant’s speech in parliament inspiring. I hope the Party will take action, the least they can do is be more vigilant next time around. In a recent interview, Brazil’s president Lula had this to say when asked if he would be runing for the presidential elections for the third time:

    “Two terms are enough. Otherwise the democracy ends up turning into a petty dictatorship. Change is good for the country” (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,552900,00.html)

    I guess it’s time for some of our politicians – with all their European, democratic, christian etc etc values – to take a lesson from this Latin American politician.

    J. Borg

  36. Marie Abdilla said

    Great post and analysis Andrew Sciberras Post 33. I came to almost the same conclusion.

    Never does George Abela speak in favour of the other contestants or speak of working as a team and that together with the rubbishing of all that’s Labour is what makes him popular with the PN voters who no matter what will NEVER vote Labour. Unlike Joseph and Evarist. Bartolo has actually made this a recurring theme in all his articles and speeches and I found his sound bite -“hames swaba ponn wiehed” to be very apt. Of course it was just Orizzont who picked it up.

    Marie

  37. Marie Abdilla said

    Danny I couldn’t agree more and again to quote Evarist Bartolo you can’t move forward if you don’t know your roots. Speaking to the Labour veterans and even in articles that he wrote Bartolo spoke of Labour’s history and the need for us to speak of our glorious past. He was the only contender to remind us that May 15 was Labour’s 87th Anniversay.

    http://www.l-orizzont.com/news.asp?newsitemid=44269

    “Hames swaba tal-istess id” was Bartolo’s article in KullHadd rather than “Hames swaba ponn wiehed” as I inadvertly quoted in my previous post No.36.

    http://www.evaristbartolo.com/articles/Kull%20Hadd%2011%20ta'%20Mejju%202008-1.doc

    Marie Abdilla

  38. Marie Abdilla said

    J. Borg Post 32 re Mr gej-minn-familja-laburista-normann-vella -I don’t know if you all read Malta Today mid-week. Saviour Balzan outed Mr. Vella as being the son of Karmenu Vella ex-GWU and who is very close to George Abela and true to the style that GA uses he had to bad mouth all that is Labour. I guess this explains the discrepancy that you so rightly point out!!

    Marie Abdilla

  39. Marie Abdilla said

    J. Borg Post 35 I agree that Alfred Sant’s speech was excellent because he had the balls to say what we hear as whispers and complaints but that no MLP politician spoke of before. I hope that the new Party administration addresses these corrupt practices and that we have more of these eye opener speeches from all our MPs. I also hope to hear more from Dr, Sant in parliament. No wonder the Times the next day had an editorial and an article by Ariadne Massa questioning Sant’s position as Opposition Leader. The truth he spoke was too close for comfort and the Times, being the faithful PN mouthpiece as usual had to do something as damage control.

    Marie Abdilla

  40. Angelo Mallia said

    Yes, Marie is right! Alfred Sant’s speech in Parliament is yet more evidence that the guy has more balls than most of his colleagues put together. But he also has an immense heart and that is, I think, his greatest failure. Having trusted some people for so long until they stabbed him in the back. Abela, the 1998 edition, is a case in point. He had been warned but could not believe it. Now he does, of course, but it’s too late. This makes his first speech in the new parliament a poignant event, but…kieku kieku waq u kiser siequ.

    Angelo Mallia

  41. J. Borg said

    Hi Danny. I’m not sure about this but I think that somewhere I had read that Mintoff was a member of the Fabian Society while he was studying in England.

    J. Borg

  42. danny attard said

    Hi J Borg, very probable, the Fabian society is a very active university based platform for political debate on the left of the political spectrum. A supply of ideas emerge…one tiny tiny example…child support as from the 27th (i think) week of pregnancy. Just imagine the impact of such a small measure on society including the possible easing off of abortion pressures in desperate situations…the society debates major issues through the specific interaction of experince and youth…Regards

    Danny Attard

  43. danny attard said

    me again…ok we should think with the minds of opportunist opposition to MLP. Should the MLP suggest children’s allowance as from week 27, the MLP will probably face this kind of opposition: 27th week! this is a precursor to abortion suggesting that a child is not a child until the 27th week bla bla bla… hence in our case the MLP should suggest allowance as from day 1 … this will act as an incentive against abortion…having said that they would still find some fault…possibly the pro life will stay mum and the psedo modernists economists will explain the folly of such measure that will encourage out-of-marriage pregancies etc…hence the MLP should stay on the lines of doing what is considered to be right irrespective of destructive rhetoric tipo reception class…what MLP should do, however, is to obtain a braod consensus to an idea prior to putting it formally on the agenda table…

    Danny Attard

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