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

Only three stand a sporting chance: focus groups exercise confirms

Posted by fcb on May 19, 2008

We have been busy. Over the past ten days, ten groups of ten persons each, one hundred persons in all, stratified by age, gender, occupation, education, political affiliation (including 0-political affiliation) and region (South, Centre, North and Gozo) were invited to attend a two hour focus session to discuss the relative merits/demerits of the five potential candidates for the position of Leader of the Labour Party.  The focus group sessions were held in private residences and run by skilled and experienced moderators and observed by equally skilled and experienced observers and analysts.

 

We are organizing ourselves to be able to run such focus groups regularly and well beyond 5th June. In fact, sufficient funds permitting, we are aiming to to keep the exercise going at least up to the end of 2008. Seriously implemented focus groups, if complemented by serious surveys – and we mean S-E-R-I-O-U-S surveys – can help us keep in touch with the people (A-L-L the people).  The methodology used corresponds to international best practice in this field and was audited by qualified foreign specialists. Participants were encouraged to express themselves about a number of themes and then quizzed regarding how they felt each of the five candidates would fair with respect to each theme. Here are some of the results:

 

1.0 THEMES:

 

1.1 ON EUROPE

 

George Abela: Excellent credentials from Meusac days but has problems with Labour grassroots because of the same

Evarist Bartolo: Moderate stand but the Kenneth Wain soundbite undoes him.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: No track record on the subject.

Michael Falzon: No track record on the subject but his hunting connections do nothing to increase his credentials.

Joseph Muscat: Campaigned against membership but proved his worth in the European Parliament where he outperformed even the Nationalists.

 

1.2 THE ECONOMY

George Abela: No track record on the subject.

Evarist Bartolo: No track record on the subject.

Marie Louise Colerio Preca: No track record on the subject.

Michael Falzon: Lawyer by training, banker by profession.  Has insight of finance.

Joseph Muscat: The only candidate who studied economics, worked in the sector and seems to know what he is talking about.

 

1.3 SOCIAL ISSUES

George Abela: Good credentials, especially on workers’ rights.

Evarist Bartolo: Good credentials, especially on education.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Excellent credentials.  Nobody can top her.

Michael Falzon: Good credentials, comes across as someone who emphatises  (‘feels for and with’) a lot.

Joseph Muscat: Good credentials, campaigned on improved workers’ rights in the European Parliament.

 

1.4 DIVORCE

George Abela: Non-committal.

Evarist Bartolo:  Expressed himself in favour.

Marie Louis Colerio Preca: Non-commital but can be expected to be in favour because of her awareness about the what is going on in our society.

Michael Falzon: Non-committal. His religious roots might make it difficult for him to tackle the subject.

Joseph Muscat: In favour and already committed to presenting legislation and allowing a free vote in Parliament.

 

1.5 ENVIRONMENT

George Abela: Goes down well with NGOs but his role as MEPA legal consultant might prove a very difficult problem.

Evarist B artolo: Excellent credentials, campaigned on many environmental issues.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Good credentials.

Michael Falzon: Hunting lobby is a hindrance to his otherwise good credentials.

Joseph Muscat: Excellent credentials, has been continuously referring to the need of an “environmentalist” Labour Party, and campaigned with many environment NGOs.

 

 

2.0 MARKET SEGMENTS:

2.1 MALTA NORTH

George Abela: Moderate appeal

Evarist Bartolo: High appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Low appeal

Michael Falzon: Moderate appeal

Joseph Muscat: High appeal

 

2.2 MALTA CENTRE:

George Abela: High appeal

Evarist Bartolo:  Moderate appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: High appeal

Michael Falzon: Moderate appeal

Joseph Muscat:  Moderate appeal

 

2.3 MALTA SOUTH:

George Abela: Moderate appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Low appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: High appeal

Michael Falzon: High appeal

Joseph Muscat: High appeal

 

2.4 GOZO:

George Abela: High appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Mode rate appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca:  Moderate appeal

Michael Falzon: High appeal

Joseph Muscat: High appeal

 

2.5 NEW VOTERS:

George Abela: Moderate appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Moderate appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Low appeal

Michael Falzon: Low appeal

Joseph Muscat: High appeal

 

2.6 WOMEN:

George Abela: Moderate appeal

Evarist Bartolo: High appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: High appeal

Michael Falzon: Low appeal

Joseph Muscat: Moderate appeal

 

2.7 FLOATERS:

George Abela: High appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Moderate appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Low appeal

Michael Falzon: Low appeal

Joseph Muscat: Moderate appeal

 

2.8 LABOURITES:

George Abela: Low appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Moderate appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: High appeal

Michael Falzon: Moderate appeal

Joseph Muscat: High appeal

 

2.9 NATIONALISTS:

George Abela: High appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Low appeal

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Low appeal

Michael Falzon: Moderate appeal

Joseph Muscat: Low appeal

 

2.10 EDUCATION:

George Abela: Most appealing to voters with low and medium education  but tending to homogeneous appeal

Evarist Bartolo: Most appealing to voters with medium and higher education

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca: Most appealing to voters with low and medium education

Michael Falzon: Most appealing to voters with low and medium education

Joseph Muscat: Most appealing to voters with medium and higher education but tending to homogeneous appeal

Note on education: (1) Low: Primary, (2) Medium: Secondary, (3) Higher: Higher, (4) Homogeneous: even distribution between 1, 2 and 3.

 

These are only preliminary results from the analysis of focus group materials. We are working to correlate them to current country-wide surveys and to aggregate delegate profiles.  What emerges is the near-certainty that only three, at best, of the five contestants for Labour’s top job stand a reasonable chance of success. More to come in the coming days.

Meanwhile, tell us what you think.

 

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23 Responses to “Only three stand a sporting chance: focus groups exercise confirms”

  1. Abel Abela said

    I have no doubt the effort is well meaning. I doubt how far your exercise can take you, though. It is the delegates who will decide.
    Meanwhile, since you’re 10 X 10, you can do a Decameron.

    Abel Abela

  2. danny attard said

    Interesting work indeed…results very credible…4.1 Divorce may perhaps not carry the same weight as other issues unless it reflects an overall conservative vs liberal inclination. Re Divorce, i consider GA to be even more ‘religious’ than MF. In fact this sector seems to be giving tacit support to GA. What makes very interesting reading is the fact that you distinguish between first-time voters and floaters. I am very curious to understand what qualifies a voter to be a floater. Stimulating work.

    Danny Attard

  3. Caretaker said

    Abel, please: we’re not Martellino who, pretending to be lame, caused himself to be laid on the body of Saint Arriguo and then pretended to have been cured by a miracle…why would we risk, like him, to be exposed and roundly beaten and almost hanged and strangled? (Decameron, The Second Day, the First Novella), nor are we the equerry to Agilulffo, king of the Lombards, who slipped into the Queen’s bed withour her knowledge and consent and who, on being caught by the King who sheared his servant’s hair later to expose him, himself sheared the hair of all males in the household thus saving his skin (The Third Day, The Second Novella)…

    ….of course it is ultimately the delegates in representation of the members of the Party who will decide. The object of our exercise is informative…democracy must not only take place but, like justice, it must be seen to take place. There’s hundreds, nay thousands, of citizens out there who have been conditioned by those oqbra mbajda who are in power to believe that whatever happens on June 5th in Hamrun will be a mockery of democracy. That whoever is chosen willl have been chosen because of the will of a handful of conspirators seeking to prevent change…the point of it all being to demonstrate that the Labour Party is incapable of change and self-renewal.

    Well, the point our exercise is to show that whatever the delegates will decide, it will be a response determined by the perception of each of them of what the person chosen by him or her can bring to to country, to the party and – why not – to the individual delegate himself. We have tried to understand what people out there are saying when they are asked to express themselves beyond the yes/now/I don’t know of the telephone opinion survey (hence the focus group approach). We have not reported any numbers, we have merely reported outlines of perceptions without any great pretence of infallibility.

    A few of those who spoke to us are delegates, most are not. We are, however, of the opinion that the delegates are not – after all – monstrous creatures who are totally unlike ‘normal’ (whatever that means) Maltese and Gozitans. We think that all in all, their perceptions of the five candidates (assuming five candidates will actually submit their nominations) are not completely deviant from the general current perception. Any one reading the notes we have published can compare them to his or her own perceptions…make his or her own choice and then judge the delegates choice by comparing it to one’s own. Hence our modest exercise. The last word to the master that Abel – like us – so relishes…

    E lasciando omai a ciascheduna e dire e credere come le pare, tempo è da por fine alle parole, Colui umilmente ringraziando che dopo sí lunga fatica col suo aiuto n’ha al desiderato fine condotto. E voi, piacevoli donne, con la sua grazia in pace vi rimanete, di me ricordandovi, se a alcuna forse alcuna cosa giova l’averle lette.”

    Caretaker

  4. Abel Abela said

    Thanks!

    “E per ciò che la gratitudine, secondo che io credo, tra l’altre virtú è sommamente da commendare e il contrario da biasimare, per non parere ingrato ho meco stesso proposto di volere, in quel poco che per me si può, in cambio di ciò che io ricevetti, ora che libero dir mi posso, e se non a coloro che me atarono, alli quali per avventura per lo lor senno o per la loro buona ventura non abbisogna, a quegli almeno a’ quali fa luogo, alcuno alleggiamento prestare.” (Proemio)

    Abel Abela

  5. harloc said

    I think that what you are trying to do is very good and hope that the end result is accepted by whomever from the leadership contestants wins the Labour leader election. Further than that it should be extended to surveys on the way the Labour party is seen by the people in the street.

    But to tell you the truth I stopped reading the themes you presented as after a couple of questions it clearly showed that one of the candidates is either very well known to the participants or else he will be the god send leader. Basically in your themes, Joseph Muscat featured very well in 11 out of 15, in 3 featured as moderate and in only just 1 featured as low. On the other well he featured very bad in the themes that the party needs to be strong, that is in winning the Nationalists votes and in his appeal to Floaters.

    As I have always said in my previous contributions, I sincerely wish that such comments, surveys and information are not similar to Xarabank programs. Please be as much as possible as independent from any leadership contestant and not try and convince your readers that what you write is the only opinion that makes sense.

    Harloc

    PS. I already know what your reply will be, that is deny what I have written above. But if you could be sincere with yourself and with the people reading this blog, you will find that I am right in saying that most of the people who participated where biased towards a member of the contestants.

  6. Hilda Cutajar said

    Bravo Abel, bravo Caretaker of this here Tazebao!

    Who would ever have imagined Lejboristi throwing Italian 14th century verses at each other!?!?!
    You’ll see, we’ll live to see the day when Orizzont columnists will dismiss the peroxide harpies and the peasants with calloused heels and the grubby fingered proles attending rallies in Pieta’…and these will be defended by the likes of Dafni Luxemburg and Boccja Lenin!
    Verily, verily I say unto you, we live in times of change.

    Hilda Cutajar

  7. danny attard said

    hello Harloc, good to see you around. Hope you are keeping well. Let us hope that delegates give us a united team to bring forward the MLP for a better Malta where justice is truely respected. In the meantime keep well my friend.

  8. Andrew Sciberras said

    Harloc,

    I have also written a few words about the situation. I agree 110% with you that the analysis must be objective. However pure objectivity (the Platonic ideal of objectivity in the world of forms) is quite hard to attain because human nature is, unfortunately, not perfect. The difference is knowing when not to cross way over the line. We have been speculating for so long and we have been weighing the options for the future of our dear Party. Never before has there been such profound enthusiasm by delegates, members and non-members alike about the future of Labour and the Left in general. In fact these are discussions that are happening all over the world because the Left is changing.

    Surveys, in my personal opinion, have shown the following:

    (1) The top two candidates are Joseph Muscat and George Abela
    (2) Joseph Muscat is the strongest amongst Labourites and the Youth
    (3) George Abela is the strongest amongst Floaters and Nationalists and 50+ year olds

    Other personal reflections have shown that:

    (4) Joseph Muscat and George Abela equally appeal to moderates
    (5) Joseph Muscat appeals more to progressives
    (6) George Abela appeals more to conservatives

    Which brings me to this conclusion:

    (7) These two candidates together make somewhat of a dream team because they appeal to all and sundry in their own different ways.

    However I ask myself:

    (8) Are they compatible?
    (9) If so which one of them should be leader?

    ———————————————

    Regarding the compatibility question I cannot really say. It depends on the way they act whoever wins or loses. However, I don’t see any reason why not. Regarding the leader question I personally think that Joseph Muscat should be leader because:

    (1) He has the greatest support amongst the majority of Labourites
    (2) Social trends are showing that great leaders (business or political) are young and youthful. I see his age as a plus because he can work long-term with a plan and a vision. He postulates 15 years (5 in opposition and 10 in government – as opposed to the 5 years in Government for George Abela). Now I hope there is no rash accusation that having a long-term vision is arrogant and infantile.
    (3) Although he was born in the Sant affray he does not have any political baggage or “skeletons in his closet”
    (4) He stands for what I personally believe in
    (5) He has what it takes to be a winner and he has proven himself a very capable politician in the European Parliament
    (6) The youth and first-time voters are equally if not more important than floaters in winning an election

    Now I read a very interesting opinion penned by Media Today journalist Raphael Vassalo on yesterday’s Malta Today paper. He asks why so many people “invariably Nationalists” subliminally accept that George Abela rocks? When he posited this question to Nationalist supporters none of them could give him a straight answer and they couldn’t identify a single policy associated with George Abela except that he was pro-EU. None of them had read his manifesto or read his articles. They just subliminally accepted that he is the best. He (the journalist) is also skeptical about his pro-EU stance because if he was really pro-EU than he wouldn’t have had any trouble about an early election since Alfred Sant was adamantly anti-EU membership. If there was no early election in 1998 then that Labour administration would have subsisted till 2001 and I very much doubt whether we would have joined the EU in 2004.

    So one still has to speculate why there seems to be an undying love for George Abela by the Nationalists and Floaters and whether their sentiments are based on reality or founded in myth.

    That is my personal (and I guess the journalist’s) opinion. Criticize as you please 🙂

  9. Joe Vella said

    Only time can tell if the focus group results were approximate or not. We only have to wait another few days. As far as I am concerned, all the contestants are welcome, although I have my own opinion on our best leader. But whoever he/she will be, he/she is welcome! He/she is better than the best of the PN. Fullstop. I will not in my stomach keep anything which can diminish Labour’s next victory!

    Joe Vella

  10. Abel Abela said

    It’s great to see someone finally doing something – even though it took a string of defeats to get some of us going. Basically the focus groups findings reflect what people have figured out already.

    Here’s my two cents. (Is that five eurocents now?!)
    There’s no question that all the contenders want to see the same thing – Labour win in 2013. The five have the party at heart and a vast experience to draw on.

    Evarist Bartolo and Marie Louise Coleiro seem to stand little chance at this stage. The two main contenders are George Abela and Joseph Muscat, with Michael Falzon emerging as the third player. People seem to be too bitter about 2003-2008 to want to choose Michael Falzon.

    EB – As the Chinese sage said, ‘Know your enemy’. There is no one in the Labour party who knows the PN better than Evarist. But Evarist, who gets elected from a Nationalist district, is a master of communication and has a sharp analytical mind, made a key mistake in 1996 and he is still hounded by that. He also has an image problem because people think he was far closer to Alfred Sant than he admits.

    MLCP – Marie Louise is very popular with the Labour grassroots and has vast experience. She is a hands on politician and a fighter. But she has not exploited her best chance of becoming Leader this time round – that is, by emphasizing Labour’s advantage in having a woman as Leader. Michael Falzon is charismatic and has proven leadership qualities. He was there for Labour throughout the past 16 years, but that is now working against him.

    MF – Michael Falzon is nice, affable, approachable, and could easily have been an automatic choice for leader. But he has a serious image problem, having been a deputy leader in 2003-8, because people keep saying – he could have done this, he could have done that.

    JM – Joseph Muscat is popular without being a populist. A nice young family man (very important!) in his thirties, his education, experience, performance and personality all work in his favour. He had an image problem, but has slowly turned that into an advantage. A leadership role will be new to him, but he’s a fast learner. It’s unlikely that non-Labour voters will give him their vote in 2013 just because he’s a nice young man. And the PN will have its ‘nice young men’ facing him. Indeed, the PN has quickly realized that he’s Labour leader material, and has already started demonizing him.

    GA – In 1998 George Abela was seen by many as a future Labour leader. Getting on in years, he lacks Joseph’s image but has charismatic appeal. His leadership qualities are undeniable, and he may yet succeed where Alfred Sant did not: draw new voters to Labour. But his image within the party is tarnished because he stayed away from it for a decade, and came to represent ‘another’ Labour. He is still popular among the union grassroots, but has to deal with the union leadership sooner or later. That might do the trick for him, or be his undoing. Many people in Labour districts see him as the missing link between old and new Labour, and are convinced he is Labour’s best foot forward in reply to Gonzi’s par idejn.

    Abel

  11. Nick Dimech said

    I see that most of you guys and dolls are too refined to speak your mind clearly. It is as if calling a spade a spade has become a sign of intellectual backwardness and aesthetic vulgarity. Well so here comes a steaming hot pile of intellectual bacwardness and aesthetic vulgarity: I want Joseph Muscat to be Labour’s leader and I want him to be Malta’s next prime minister and I want him to be Labour’s leader because I want Malta’s next prime minister to be a Labour prime minister.

    But, now that I have raised him on my shoulders, let me also give him some fraternal advice (I am too young to give him paternal advice). Fabrizio Ellul in his own blog said “When god divided the plates and created the continents, he placed the Islands of Malta in the middle of the planet. He chose a selected few […] enlightened, superior, beings to rule the Island” (Bring in the Clowns, May 14, 2008) and then went on to ridicule Joseph’s ambition to make Malta the best in Europe or something like that.

    I am not sure in what field it is that Joseph wants to makes us Europe’s best (’cause I can imagine some things in respect of which we’re already best in Europe) and I can even understand that we are in the middle of a campaign and in such circumstances some rhetoric and some bullshit are necessary, but yes Fabrizio is right, let’s not overdo it. Having said this, and Fabrizio kind of says this too, we Maltese seem to relish being told that we are or could become the best in the world, that we have the biggest this or the biggest that.

    I mean look at the loads of bull we’ve been told about Smart City by Ostin and you will certainly remember Gonzi saying that we would soon become the Silicon Valley of pharmaceuticals. But, to take up a line of thought from Fabrizio’s blog, evidently for us Maltese and Gozitans, Gonzi’s faeces must smell better than Joe Muscat’s. So if Joey exaggerates, it will be noted. If Lorry continues to exaggerate, it will continue to elicit great acclamation and admiration.

    Conclusion: Joseph, please, moderate your rhetoric. We don’t want to be the best in the galaxy. We just want a decent island (more or less our size), well and honestly governed, where things are called by their name, where crap is crap and manna is manna.

    Nick Dimech

  12. Marie Abdilla said

    Andrew Sciberras Post 8 I too read Raphael Vassallo’s interesting article which shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that their choice is not based on fact but floaters (who are the floaters???) have been influenced by PN propaganda over the years and the even more dangerous anti-Labour independent press and the positive coverage that they gave GA these past 10 years.

    GA scored highest among PN voters and floaters who in my opinion are mostly pale blue voters coming from PN families who are no longer interested in politics except maybe to vote during elections or PN voters disillusioned with their Government. Try cornering anyone from these groups to commit and they will finally admit that they will never vote Labour, they’ll abstain or vote for the smaller parties but not Labour so whoever is Leader won’t make much difference when push comes to shove.

    I think Labour’s best bet to bring in more votes is through the first time voters and this is why I think Joseph is the best choice because he scores very highly here.

    Finally I think the idea about JM and GA as a leadership team is crap. Both have said that they aren’t intersted in the deputy position, they are incompatabile politically (one liberal the other conservative) and don’t forget that there are already contestants for the positon of Deputy and these will be the ones elected by the delegates.

    Marie Abdilla

  13. Abel Abela said

    Tghagglux l-ahwa!
    Bil-haqq, skuzawni li qbadtha fuq Bokkacciu. (Ghalkemm dejjem ahjar minn Bokka!!) U skuzawni li fil-messagg tieghi (no 10) zewg sentenzi dwar Michael dahlu ma’ ta’ Marie Louise.
    Appell wiehed u se nieqaf hawn: f’gieh Alla hu min hu ma jimpurtanix, daqshekk kummiedji biex inkomplu nindannaw – qed nirreferi ghall-ittri anonimi, lista tad-delegati tigri f’idejn il-gurnalisti, ittri u minuti ta’ 10 snin ilu li hargu mill-kexxun, ecc. Qed nghid dan bla ebda interess, ghax jien ma jien xejn.

    Abel

  14. Anthony Borg said

    Jien nahseb li l-akbar ghadu tal-labour huma l-Laburisti stess. Kulhadd iperrec, kulhadd iparla, kulhadd iwahhal f’dak u fl-iehor, kulhadd jahseb li hu papabbli! Bhalissa hemm 19,000 membru kollha jahsbu li huma l-profeti il-godda tal-Labour il-gdid. U aktar ma tparla fil-vojt aktar tahseb li int xi bravu! Jekk il-Labour irid jirbah l-elezzjoni il-gdida, iridt jinghaqad. Fullstop. Jekk il-leader il-gdid mhux se jkun kapaci jaghlaq halq dawn li jpercu u jaghtu l-pariri, m’ahna se naslu imkien. In-Nazzjonalisti, belghu kollox u regu dahlu lura lil kulhadd, anke dawk li xi ilsna hziena jghidu, li dahlu biex jinkassaw their pounds …forsi Euros of flesh! Ahna le, ahna qisna bhal dawk il-klieb maghkusin li l-ewwel li jigdmu huma l-klieb maghkusin bhalhom, u mhux lil klieb kbar u kattivi!
    Mela naghtu cans lil persuni eligibli jiehdu ir-rotta taghhom imbaghad wara l-elezzjoni imparlaw. Naqtghu ilsinna u ninghaqdu kontra Gonzi it-Tieni. L-ewwel wiehed kisser u farrak hafna familji, li fl-ahhar anke il-Knisja ghamlet apologija; it-Tieni, qabad minn dak li halla l-iehor u qieghed jibni GHETTO, f’Malta. Hemm dawk ic-cittadini Maltin li tuza kull comma u fullstop fil-ligi biex tkissru, u imbaghad hemm l-ohrajn li tuza il-ligi bhala mezz kif din tinkisser left right and centre, biex HU u l-klikka aghar min ta Fenech Adami, ikompli izomm il-poter, anke jekk taht il-50% !
    Mela ninghaqdu l-ahwa, l-akbar ghadu mghumiex dawk il-Laburisti li ma naqblux maghhom mija fil-mija, imma GONZI II u l-klikka li imlew Malta bil-hmieg! Le ghal Malta mahmuga!

  15. harloc said

    I think that I am one of the paternalistic people here and hence may contribute differently from most of you using simple words and less bombastic dialogue. This is my opinion…that of a man in the streets who have followed closely all elections and managed to feel the swing in the people for each and every election since the 1987 election.

    On Evarist Bartolo, I have to admit that he had impressed me when interviewed on Dissett, though the Xarabank discussion is haunting him all the way and in every occasion. To tell the truth I was very disillusioned when I heard him on Smash with Brian Hansford. I even think that the logo he has selected is a real disaster and whoever designed it for him is really not good for the job. Maybe he does not have the right people to help him out and make him become leader of the party

    Marie Lousie Coleiro Preca is really good in her role as spoke person of Social Affairs and does her job very well. But when I saw her on Dissett and other programs, her role as party secretary in the worst times of Labour are coming up all the time. She seems to have clear ideas of how to organize the party structures and where to find the help from volunteers, but her rapport with the media does not seem very good and is very stiff when in front of the camera. Maybe a smile every now and then will do her good to attract people. BTW I think that not too young females will still prefer a male to lead the party rather than a female.

    George Abela is good in most things, but he is paying dearly for the mistake he made in 1998. I am in doubt whether he will pass the first round. I think he is the best speaker of all and the one with most charisma but I do not believe that he will be able to convince any Nationalist person. In case he becomes party leader, the PN and ‘independent’ media will attack him either directly or politely and the Nationalists will end up hating him as they hate any other Labour leader. Another disastrous mistake he is doing is attacking the Sant administration. At the end most of the Sant people are party delegates and will be participating in the voting of party leader and in other elections. Having them against him will not do him much good.

    Michael Falzon is acting slowly in the shadows and maybe wisely. The only thing in the past that is against him is the fact that he was part of the Labour administration for the past 5 years. On the other hand, if someone follows his speeches, he seems to have been all alone there and the administration did not give him too much importance or kept him in the dark about a lot of things including the polls. On the other hand he portrays himself to be positive and his full support to the party in all the occasion portrays himself as a party man that his only interest is the party. This may be very positive for the delegates as they know how committed he is to make the best out of each situation. But maybe he is also too genuine for the post of leader and once the PN media starts attacking him, believe me all Malta will get to know him.

    And now to Joseph Muscat. I will try and be short on this as most here have already said a lot. In my opinion he is the best person to be number 2 at the moment and let him learn internal party politics to be ready to lead the party in 10 to 15 years time. His age may be good for youths and will attract them, but people like myself in their early 40s will not want a person of his generation as leader. Most of these people have found their roads ready and did not suffer first handedly the suffering of the PN governments post 1987. He has charisma but on the other hand his speeches are more and more similar to those of Alfred Sant. He even uses his gestures when he speaks…let alone the words. And I think that people feel that he has something similar to the previous leader. And if Sant was proved wrong so much times, Muscat may not be much better.

    From the above it is difficult to come to conclusions, but I think the best solution will be a trio with the last 3 as leader and deputy leaders for the simple reason together in the leadership they will manage to get all party factions back together under one roof. And I think this should be the first priority for the party leader. Once this is resolved, then the change in administration will have to be the next and then back to work to conquer the PN and let them stay in opposition for the next 20 years with a change in Labour leadership after the first 10 years.

  16. danny attard said

    I share many of Harloc’s views. Labour needs a team that compliments and is fully representative of all Labour hues. My dream post is that of secretary general. This needs to have a much higher profile and be filled by a heavyweight…my dream? hopeless as it may be…George Abela. He proved to possess great organisational abilities when serving as deputy leader and should, in a vacum, do a great job if he is totally motivated and does not carry any chips on his shoulder. Would also represent a great unifying factor. I was reasonably impressed by Dr Gulia for Party…If Dr Muscat makes it to the leader role a contrasting personality will best fill the Dep. Parl. role…MLCP?

    Danny Attard

  17. Alfred Calleja said

    I started reading this editorial to-night and what looked like a very promising debate was drailed at post three by the caretaker’s ramblinmgs on Boccaccio’s Decameron. I agree that such high browed culture would throw the Defnis and the Boccas of this world in turmoil because the subject is out of their reach and because it is being discussed by lejburisti, but let us keep to basics please. The issue here is the person who would make the best leader for the Labour Party from the five contestants based on the conclusions of the focus groups.

    I feel that the element of new voters in the next election was not given the weight it deserves. In last March elections there were around 34,000 new voters and it is an undisputed fact that the Nationalist Party got the biggest chunk of this vote. To-day I read that in the 2013 there will be 100,000 new voters. I am not sure of this figure but let us take it as a hypotetical one. The Labour leader elected next month must be the one to attract at least 50%+ of these new votes. I do not see anyone of the contenders able to achieve this feat except Joseph Muscat. His age does not matter although it is very important. It is his appeal to the young voters that counts most here. There is no other candidate that fist time voters can identify with except Joseph Muscat. He instils confidence in young people, he speaks their language and he has a vision. He is one of them.

    And this is where I do not agree with Harloc who is, once again, I think he did it already in one of his comments to a different editorial, touting George Abela for leader with Joseph Muscat as deputy leader. Sorry sir, I do not agree. Apart from his natural advantage with first time voters, Joseph Muscat is better qualified as a catalyst for unity. His name is not linked to any internal party squablles and, as far as I can remember, he had no public quarrels with any political or non-political person outside the party.
    Harloc says that his troika will manage to get all party factions back together under one roof. They can still do it with Joseph Muscat as a leader. All they have to do is that once Muscat is elected, the rest of the contenders will be the first to offer him and the party their unselfish and complete cooperation, rope in their supporters to work with the new leaderas one team and not as four different groups still sore, bitter and disappointed because their favorite candidate did not make it to the leadership.

    This in my humble opinion is what would make Labour a more respected party and in five years time build it in a stronger and credible political force to win the 2013 elections

  18. Abel Abela said

    Come 5 June – If it’s Joseph, it’s Joseph. If it’s George, it’s George. Fullstop. The new leader should be allowed to do his/her job. The other four should accept the result and get on with their work. This applies to former leaders too (Mintoff, KMB, Alfred Sant). Otherwise there will be 3 or 4 mini-MLPs. And this will only lead to…. Gonzi III.

    Unity!!! Look at the PN contest in February 04 – L Gonzi got 508 votes (60%) The others – J Dalli got 219 & L Galea 133 votes (40%). Result? The PN won when it was really important to win. They stood aside to let their leader stage his solo show. He has six ex-ministers and two PS elected MPs relegated to backbenchers. L Galea was not elected MP but is now Speaker. GonziPN has a Cabinet on the front benches, and an ex-Cabinet condemned to fume on the back benches. In Labour’s case, this would mean open Civil War. In the Renju tal-Kukkudrilli, they are dancing the Nutcracker.

    Abel Abela

  19. J. Borg said

    I don’t agree with Abel (post 10) about GA being the missing link between Old and New Labour. I think he’s more like Old Labour’s candidate in this contest. Nothing wrong with that. I think that MLCP and MF are the two candidates which are a link between the old and the new. However that, on its own, doesn’t make them the best or the “natural” leaders for Labour. By the way, can anyone explain to me what GA means by saying that Labour has to become the people’s “natural Party”? What does he mean by “natural Party”?

    J. Borg

  20. Carmelo Bonanno said

    We need a new person, a new face with a brain behind it, one who has the stamina to renew the Party, and to give it a new sense of direction. This person’s face, his image, ought to have the look of change. I also think that the deputy leader should be chosen by the new leader; likewise the secretary general.This is imperative given the recent history of the last 15 years with the leader having to watch his back, (instead of watching the PN leader) all the time!
    It is only through this change that MLP can attain unity. Unity is a strategic issue, the MOST important issue for the short to medium term. Given that Mintoff in his greatness managed to cook a barbuljata (after he resigned) it is only through the winner-takes-all principle, that unity and a speedy march forward can be assured. The new Popes do it and our political (PN) opponents do it too. It was Fenech Adami that crowned Gonzi, willy nilly for the other PN Papabbli! We are more civilized but, still, we have to be practical. So, forward to the new unity, and unity, and unity.

    Carmelo Bonanno

  21. harloc said

    I have to reply to Alfred Calleja’s contribution. First of all I do not want to put George Abela before the other or make the reader think that he is better. To tell you the truth after what he has done in 1998 and the way he attacked the last party people, has put him await from my favorite list. On the other hand he is a valid member and will give a great contribution should he become part of the party administration. He would give an enormous contribution in uniting the party and bring back the leftists of the party that were lost in the story of the past 10 years. When I mentioned 3 names, I named them as being the ideal trio, but I am not sure who should have which post and all three are very valid.

    I also think that George Abela will be good as party secretary, but I do not think that he wants to be under the helm of someone else. He has proved that in 1998 and is again proving it now when attacking the party.

    As regards to Joseph Muscat, he has assistance from within the party administration with the help of the Alfred Sant faction including most of the party administration and people at Kwartieri. And he cannot deny this as he was always Alfred Sant’s boy and no one can understand how come that after the election he is trying to deny it on all the media. He is not a leftist person but one who prefers the party being in the centre more and more; something which made the party go nearer to the PN than ever before and something tat made us loose all the people that are now behind George Abela. Joseph Muscat may be appealing to the youths, but let us not forget that most of the people voting in the next election will not be so and most of the people over 40 and he may not be the most appealing candidate for them.

    I will conclude by saying that I sincerely hope that no more mud slinging comes out of this election and hope that the selected person will bring the party back to govern and lead Malta.

    Harloc

  22. danny attard said

    Please allow me one digression. Labour’s media includes many highly intelligent individuals. However, these guys need to go slim and mean as an immediate priority if Labour’s message is to compete, Spartan style, with the colossal critical mass that is happy to serve unrelentlessly government spin.

    To avoid generic talk, may I kindly put forward one example:

    How is the labour media dealing with the suspension of the Equity Sharing Scheme?

    We are presented with a plethora of fact, all correct. Yet the sheer volume of these facts dilutes the message – we hear at one go how:

    The government has confirmed it stopped the Equity Sharing scheme…

    The Equity Sharing scheme gives a head-start to young couples who want to become owners of their home …

    Government’s admission that it lacks fund to continue the scheme reveals the Nationalist Party’s deceptive attitude in the last general election…

    Now, social policy minister John Dalli is saying that Housing Authority has run out of cash…

    The Equity Sharing Scheme is aimed at first time buyers who wish to purchase their property from the private market…

    The individual sum financed or guaranteed should not exceed €23,293.73 (Lm10,000)…

    Didn’t the Nationalist Party cost its proposals before sending glossy leaflets…?

    This is the second electoral pledge which the Nationalist government ditched in the space of two months…

    Etc etc…

    Now the attention span of the average person hardly ventures ten words beyond the headline.

    What is being said can be summarised in a few words: The Nationalist Party in Government is opportunistic.

    Now I am sure that today, even the shoe shiner sitting on the corner of Gandhi Road in New Delhi knows this. That is why GonziPN saw their vote contract by a massive 2,5%, why the majority of voters do not want a NP in government. Labour’s challenge is to gain the confidence of a wider spectrum of voters.

    Hence beating exhaustively at the ‘NP is unreliable’ drum is overkill and getting labour nowhere because we all know it.

    Perhaps what the Labour media needs to say is:

    NP Government renders young couple homeless
    The MLP agrees to pairing for a vote to reactivate scheme.

    (Marketing people will of course give these lines the required gloss).

    This is, in my opinion, how Labour’s message is best delivered, thereby feeding two birds with one cherry tomato.

    Danny

  23. harloc said

    Well said and described Danny. The party has been repeating such a mistake for the past 10 years without being reactive and propose what he thinks is right for the good of the country and the citizens. At One, they are all weeks saying the same thing and using the same report by the same journalist over and over again on radio and TV as if there is not much more to say. If they ask the man in the street and not the One weirdoes who listen only to One, what they want to hear on the news, I am sure they will find a lot to say even against the government. But no, the part of the party machine that manages the newsroom, wants to continue with this negative and negative and negative effect to continue the pre-election kantalina. And this brings me to the argument I bring forward every time. The people administering the party HAVE TO LEAVE and stand for a vote. We cannot have people that think that our palace is for them alone. New blood needs to go in our lovely kwartieri and bring in a fresh air of ideas to make the party the one that will bring to Malta the clean up it deservers.

    I am sure that most of the people contributing here are not core party members and from what I read they want the party to start afresh. Even better than it did in 1992. Hope that after 5 years waiting for this moment, the Labour supporters that have been loyal to the party all the way will get what they have been hoping for since 1996.

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