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

The Xarabank Survey: Unspinning the spin (1)

Posted by fcb on June 1, 2008

Woman spinning on a great wheel turned by a crank. c. 16th  century France MS 17, Musee Dobree, Nantes

This is the first part of a series of three editorial comments on the study released Friday by Xarabank / Where is Everybody, “The views of the Maltese on the forthcoming election of the Leadership of the MLP: Summary of the findings”.

Beyond the one or two figures that inevitably stick in one’s memory, such as the percentage of respondents who think that the delegates of the Labour Party will choose Joseph Muscat as leader next Thursday (June 5), the picture that emerges from this study is a complex one. We believe that to reason the detailed results is useful not just – not even mainly – for the purpose of Thursday’s election, but beyond this. It will help us to appreciate the political context (certainly not a simple, straightforward one) within which Labour will be rebuilding itself between next Friday and the next elections.

In this first part we are focusing on two parts of section 4.4 “Comparison between who the people want and who they think will bring a Labour victory” namely, part 4.4.1 “Those who did not disclose their political affiliation”  and part 4.4.4 “Floaters”. Tomorrow (Monday, June 2) morning, we will publish a commentary of the rest of section 4.4 (Nationalists and Labourites), and Tuesday (June 3) morning a commentary of the remaining sections as well as of the whole report. The three commentaries form a step-by-step reflection.

“Who the people want” and “who they think will bring a Labour victory”

In section 4.4, the authors state that they intend to compare “who the people want” and “who they think will bring a Labour victory”. Let us begin by making sure that we understand this well.  In the former case, the person asking questions on the phone asks me who I want as leader of the Labour Party. In the latter case, she asks me who I think who will win the election for Labour.

Under certain circumstances these are two very different questions. Under other circumstances they are not different. Let us reason this closely. If I was a Labourite who wants her or his party to win the next election, then you would expect my reply to both questions would be identical. I want as leader the person who will win the next election for Labour. If I was a loyal and calculating Nationalist who wants her of his party to win the next election, then it is not likely that the person I would like to be elected as the next leader of the Labour party is the same one who I believe can win the next election for Labour. On the contrary, it would not be unreasonable to expect me to want as leader of the Labour Party the person with the least chances of winning the next election for Labour.

In which case, when the voice on the phone asks me, a loyal and calculating Nationalist who wants the Nationalist Party to be re-elected at the next election, who I want as leader of the Labour Party, then I will give the voice the name of a person least likely to defeat the Nationalist Party, my party, at the next elections.

You might object that not all Nationalists are loyal or calculating or both. That is, of course, possible. You might say that it is possible to conceive of a (not-so-loyal) Nationalist who, in spite of having just identified him or herself to the voice on the phone as a Nationalist, is really a person who would switch allegiance to the Labour Party if only the Labour Party would elect a new leader that will defeat hes/her (Nationalist) Party at the next election. Not impossible, but how probable?

You might say that it is possible to conceive of a (not-so-calculating) Nationalist who is carried away by his or her emotions. Such an emotive and not-so-smart Nationalist would presumably tell the voice on the phone that Labour should choose…and he/she would name a person associated in his mind with internal opposition to Labour’s past leader, a past Labour leader (Alfred Sant) that he has been taught over the past sixteen years to hate viscerally. That such an opponent to Alfred Sant might end up defeating his own (Nationalist) Party at the next election might well be beyond his mental capacity. Yes, there may well be a number of these amongst the respondents to the latest Xarabank survey.

 

“Those who did not disclose their political affiliation”

In part 4.4.1 “Those who did not disclose their political affiliation” were asked who they wanted as the new Labour leader and who they thought would bring a Labour victory. Evarist Bartolo, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and Michael Falzon are far behind George Abela and Joseph Muscat with regard to both questions. More people in this category want Dr Coleiro Preca and Dr Falzon to become leader than are convinced that they can win the next election. Bartolo is the only one with exactly the same number of respondents in this category who want him to be leader and who think he would make a victorious leader. Let’s focus on the two principal contenders:

“Who you want Leader”
George Abela: 40%
Joseph Muscat: 34.3%

“Who will win election for MLP?”
George Abela: 42.9%
Joseph Muscat: 45.7%

Both George Abela and Joseph Muscat have more people in this category that think that they can bring a Labour victory than people who actually want them as leaders. From this category, Joseph Muscat is seen as the most suitable candidate to bring a Labour victory. Remember, this is the category of respondents that preferred not to disclose their political sympathies. Not telling what party you support gives you an additional margin of freedom of expression other respondents do not have. You are not bound by the need to appear consistent with your party affiliation or political credo. In a sense, this is the category of the most credible respondents. 

A relative majority, 45.7%, of respondents in this category think Joseph Muscat stands the best chance of winning the next election for Labour but only 34.3% want him to be leader. That is 11.4% of all respondents in this category. Let’s try and give a face to those respondents who think that Joseph Muscat can defeat Gonzi at the next election but do not want him to be leader.

Could they be Labourites? Not impossible (in the privacy of one’s mind, nothing is impossible) but how probable? If by Labourite we understand a citizen who wants Labour in government, then why would Labourites not want to choose as leader the person they think stands the best chance of winning the next election for their party? It does not seem to make any sense unless, of course, it makes sense to call Labourites even those individuals who do not want Labour to be in government. There may well be such cases, as there may well also be individuals who give their first preference to another party and still consider themselves Labourites. 

Could they be Nationalists? Quite possible and, admittedly, easier to comprehend than the Labourites who wants a leader other than the one they feel has the best chances to take their party to power. It would make sense for a faceless calculating Nationalist unencumbered by a previous admission to the faceless interviewer of his/her political identity to admit that a fresher looking Joseph Muscat is the candidate most capable of defeating Gonzi in 2013 – when inevitably he will look less fresh than Muscat –whilst declaring that, nevertheless, he would rather it was not Muscat to lead Labour at the next election.

In Abela’s case too, there are more politically unidentified respondents who say they think he is the candidate most likely to win the next election for Labour but who simultaneously say they do not want him to be Labour’s leader. In comparison to Muscat (11.4%), however, there are much fewer of these in Abela’s case, only 2.9% of respondents in this category. Again, they might be Nationalists who do not want him as Labour’s leader precisely because they fear that he will win the next election or they might be Labourites who are essentially saying that even if he stands a better chance of taking Labour to government they would rather not have him as leader. This comes as no surprise to those observers who are keeping their ear close to the ground: there are many Labourites that feel that even if one were to concede a certain electoral appeal to Abela, they would never choose him as leader on the grounds that his Labour Party would not be the Labour Party they want.

“Floating voters”

The surveyors did not attempt to define ‘floating voter’ (see Section 4.3.3), in other words they did not tell respondents what they meant by floating voter and then asked them if they recognised themselves in the given definition. The meaning of the term was taken as practically self-evident and it amounts therefore to a self-description.

Evarist Bartolo, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and Michael Falzon are far behind George Abela and Joseph Muscat with regard to both questions and we will therefore again concentrate on the main contenders, Abela and Muscat. There is however a feature of the result that is common to Bartolo, Coleiro Preca and Muscat: more people want them as leaders than think that they can actually bring a Labour victory. The opposite is the case with Abela; in fact in this category of voters, only Abela has more people that think that he can bring a Labour victory than people who actually want him as leader of the MLP. The reflection made above in the case of politically unidentified respondents is equally valid here.

Who you want Leader”
George Abela: 36%
Joseph Muscat: 39.5%

“Who will win election for MLP?”
George Abela: 51.2%
Joseph Muscat: 31.4%

Although more floating voters want Joseph Muscat (39.5%) to become the next MLP leader than those who want George Abela (36%), 51.2% of the floating voters also think that George Abela can bring about a Labour Victory compared to the 31.4% who think that Muscat can defeat Gonzi. The problem is that as ‘floater’ is used as a given self-referential category, it is very difficult to ‘reason out’ the results obtained. If by floaters are meant those that do not have any particular party loyalty but decide on a case-by-case basis (as opposed to voters that identify themselves with a particular party but chose to vote otherwise in the/a previous election to make a specific point, or are ready to vote otherwise in the next election to make a specific point), then how do we distinguish them from those who are politically unidentifiable?

Apart from disturbing rumours (of which we have, unfortunately, only anecdotal evidence) that PN has undertaken a whispering campaign to all members and supporters to run down Joseph Muscat in responses to any telephone opinion poll survey regardless of who is running it (or appears to be running it), the problem is compounded by the absence of any published information in the Xarabank survey regarding the percentage of respondents in the four categories (Labourite, Nationalist, Floater, Undisclosed).

Without this information, we can only engage in conspiracy-theory. After all, it is no secret – and we have no doubt that the way things are going within the PN we will soon have a couple of leakages to ‘prove’ this – that PN strategists (RCC first and foremost) are wetting their pants at the thought of having to ‘rejuvenate’ Gonzi if Joseph Muscat becomes leader next Thursday. Is it not true that RCC has already advised Gonzi to bring on board a number of intellectual heavyweights (if necessary foreign ones) to match the team Joseph Muscat is expected to be able to muster? Is it not true that a ‘wise men’ committee has advised that Peter Serracino Inglott is no longer adequate to match the names (and the brains behind them) that have already signed on to a number of transversal EU parliament initiatives initiated by Joseph Muscat and his friends in other countries and including other parliamentary groups? Is it not true that the Schulz issue did not bother the PN’s ‘wise men’ because of fairness/unfairness or presumed interference into our own national business, but, rather, because it indicates that Muscat can mobilise European brains to national (read, in PN’s eyes, MLP) advantage?

How can we interpret the 15.2 percentage points’ excess of Abela “who you want leader” over “who will win election for MLP” responses in the Xarabank survey? It is not unreasonable to assume that there are Nationalists who would rather not declare themselves as such and chose to say they were floaters rather than not reply to the question regarding their political affiliation, who feel that if Abela were to become the Labour Party’s new leader, Gonzi would stand a better chance of re-election in 2013. On the other hand, not all of these are naive enough to believe that a majority of Labour delegates will agree with them, hence a bigger number of realists amongst them who think that whatever they may wish, a majority of Labour delegates will vote otherwise.

[TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW]

—————-

Methodological note:

The Xarabank survey on ‘The Views of the Maltese on the forthcoming election of the Leadership of the MLP ‘is based, the authors tell us, on the findings of 300 interviews, held by telephone, with a representative sample of 300 Maltese households who have a telephone installed at home. The survey was carried out by telephone with respondents being contacted at their home between May 21 and May 26, 2008.

Statistically, the authors remind us “…at the 95% confidence level the maximum sampling error for this type of study is estimated to be + 5% (on issues with an expected 50/50 split points) but can go down to + 2.5% on issues with an expected 5/95 split”.

What is a sampling error?  When we observe a random sample instead of the whole population we are bound to get some deviation from the true value we are trying to estimate. Generally speaking, the larger the random sample the smaller the sampling error is likely to be. In fact, if we could afford to work on a 100 per cent sample – that is if we could afford to analyse the whole population and not a random part of it – then we will have no sample error at all. At the end of the day, the size of the sample error is a matter of how much we can afford or want to spend on the survey. If we want to eliminate sampling error altogether, then we have take a census of the whole population. For this type of survey, a random sample size of 300 is acceptable.

What is the confidence level? The confidence level tells you how sure you can be. It is expressed as a percentage and represents how often the true percentage of the population who would pick an answer lies within the confidence interval (the plus-or-minus figure usually reported in newspaper or television opinion poll results). The 95% confidence level means you can be 95% certain. The 99% confidence level means you can be 99% certain. Most researchers use the 95% confidence level.

Exercise yourself with the online sample size calculator at http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm

 

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22 Responses to “The Xarabank Survey: Unspinning the spin (1)”

  1. Dorothy Camilleri said

    Pirandello once said that a fact is like a sack, it will not stand up unless you put something in it. The fact is that the Nationalist Party has colonized Malta’s Public Broadcasting, with the likes of Bondi and Peppi at the forefront. To add insult to injury, they are making a sackful of Euros from the taxes that we pay, so that they may insult us with their (admittedly not hidden but, on the contrary, very clear) Nationalist Party agenda. Who needs Net TV and Radio 101 with these Trojan horses in the citadel of Public Broadcasting? Hence, it is clear that what comes out of this duet, has to be treated as a a hazard – just like the warning on the packet of cigarettes says. If you inhale Bondi’s and Peppi’s spin you endanger Labour’s chance of giving birth to an organized and rejuvenated movement, strong enough to win the next elections!

    Dorothy Camilleri

  2. J.G.Vassallo said

    This is not a beauty contest.
    It is the delegates who are going to elect a leader. Let THEM do their own thing in the service of the Party and the country.

    J.G.Vassallo

    [Caretaker’s comment: This comment was posted in the PHOTOALBUM page. We brought it here to give it more exposure]

  3. Albert Mallia said

    Hbieb,

    dawn huma punti ghar-riflessjoni li johorgu mis-Survey ta’ Xarabank:

    * George Abela qed l-ewwel bil-preferenzi ta’ Nazzjonalisti li qatt ma huma se jivvutaw Labour.

    * Joseph Muscat huwa l-aktar popolari fost iz-zghazagh bejn 16 u 35 sena. Minn dawn il-voti se jkun hemm 100,000 fl-elezzjoni li gejja. Jigi t-tieni fil-kategoriji l-ohra kollha.

    * Joseph Muscat huwa l-aktar popolari fost il-haddiema u t-tieni l-aktar fost il-klassi medja.

    * Joseph Muscat jigi l-ewwel fost dawk li fl-ahhar elezzjoni ivvutaw lil Partit Laburista, dawk li ivvutaw Alternattiva u partiti zghar, dawk li ma jridux jghidu kif ivvutaw u dawk li ma vvutawx. Joseph Muscat sahansitra jigi t-tieni fost dawk li vvutaw lil Partit Nazzjonalista.

    * Joseph Muscat jigi l-ewwel fost il-Laburisti u Floaters. Jigi t-tieni fost dawk li ma jridux jghidu kif ivvutaw u n-Nazzjonalisti.

    * Joseph Muscat huwa meqjus it-tieni favorit li jrebbah l-elezzjoni lil Partit Laburista. Il-Laburisti u dawk li ma jridux jghidu kif ivvutaw ghandhom fiducja li Joseph Muscat huwa l-aktar wiehed li jista’ jrebbahom l-elezzjoni. Anki Laburisti li jippreferu kandidati ohra jahsbu li Joseph Muscat huwa l-aktar persuna li jista’ jrebbahom l-elezzjoni. Dan huwa pedament sod li jista’ jahdem fuqu ghall-elezzjoni li gejja.

    * Anki jekk hemm aktar floaters li jahsbu li George Abela jista’ jrebbah l-elezzjoni lil Partit Laburista, hemm aktar minn dawn il-votanti li jippreferu li Joseph Muscat.

    Albert Mallia

  4. The blog post “The Xarabank Survey: Unspinning the spin (1)” is featured on Maltamedia: The Maltese Blogosphere

    – Nominate blog post of the month –

  5. Clyde Aquilina said

    Grazzi tal-kummentarju.

    Jien il-programm tal-gimgha rajtu. Dawn huma l-impressjonijet tieghi. Nahseb li filwaqt li kien ovvju hafna d-direzzjoni li xtaqu li jinghata u cjoe li George Abela huwa l-aktar kandidat adattat u l-aktar li ghandu cans li jirbah, Peppi Azzoppardi deher isu sorpriz bil-kummenti ta’ Joe Grima…nimmagina sabhom differenti minn kif stennihom, u tal-ohrajn kollha wkoll hlif ghal Duminku Fenech.

    Duminku Fenech ipprova jaghmel revizjoni storika meta qal li George Abela kien l-aktar deputat mexxej importanti fit-tim tal-1992 – 1998, u li prattikament is-Super One radio and tv, u l-headquarters ghamilhom hu!!!! Mhux fair li storiku jipprova jibdel l-istorja biex jakkomoda l-ambizzjonijiet tal-kandidat tieghu. Frankament, jmissu jisthi!

    Forsi Peppi missu staqsih x’jahseb fuq l-ahbar tal-PBS (fejn huwa fil-board editorjali) li Joseph Muscat kien ser jirtira l-kandidatura biex jissapportja lil George Abela.

    Clyde Aquilina

  6. wen said

    “A relative majority, 45.7%, of respondents in this category think Joseph Muscat stands the best chance of winning the next election for Labour but only 34.3% want him to be leader” This is very interesting. I think that he will win anyway 🙂 At least I know that if I had the chance I would vote for him for sure.

    The survey reminds me a lot of the perception of many people about Alfred Sant when he contested for the recent general elections. Some people would tell me that they liked him as a leader but that he wouldn’t win?

    Wen

    (Caretaker’s note: Wen, please note that the f45.7% refers specifically to the category of respondents who did not disclose their political colour)

  7. Mercy Grech Smith said

    I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on your brief but stimulating review of Timothy Radcliffe’s inspiring book on the meaning of being a Christian today. I must say that I was even more pleasantly surprised to find a reference to an English Dominican in a Labour-oriented blog in Malta. I have been commuting regularly between Malta and the UK for the last thirty years (mainly, it is true, for three or four weeks in Summer)and ever since I can remember my Maltese friends gave me the impression that no self-respecting Homo Sapiens in Malta would ever have anything to do with the Labour Party here. Evidently, I must now revise this impression. I am looking forward to meeting the Caretaker (who has my e-mail address) to exchange views.

    Mercy Grech Smith

    (Caretaker: Mercy posted this comment in the page Voulez vous lire avec moi? We are reproducing it here for easier access)

  8. leli said

    Congrats for this blog. When I stop and think, I feel so sorry. So much creativity, so much talent, so much energy and yet so little room within our party before the election for supporters and well-wishers to contribute. And when I read the post-election report I feel even more bitter because with more inclusion, space, drive and leadership we would have won hands-down.

    Leli

    (Caretaker: Leli posted this comment in the page About Us. We are reproducing it here for easier access)

  9. J.G.Vassallo said

    The debate has now reached its climax and in a few days’ time,a new MLP Leader will be installed by the DELEGATES’ Conference. The time has come to rally round the new Leader and look ahead. Would it not be useful if contributors to this blog were to concentrate on the priorities that need tackling from DAY ONE? In my humble view, the highest priority is to take new initiatives to make the MLP more outward looking, more active in its engagement with civil society and in promoting its concerns through the Party media. In this way, the MLP would be consistently in the spearhead , involving new faces and new blood ,and influencing the agenda of public discussion.

    J.G.Vassallo

  10. fabrizioellul said

    Soon enough a new party will be formed: The ‘Malta Floater Party’

    What would happen to the floaters then?

    There is a lot of talking about floaters; but one think that floaters do best is to float! They change their mind! If J.M. is elected (as will happen – unless the polls were wrong. They can be 😛 ) it will be his job to gain the trust of people who do not associate themselves with any party. He has 5 years to do that. 7% did not trust in Sant, Gonzi or Harry.

    It all depends whether he will be able to re-unite the party. And by the party I mean G.A. and now Falzon.

    Fabrizio Ellul

  11. Anna Maria Callus said

    As one of the first contributors to this tazebao dedicated to Labour’s quest for a new Leader (I pasted my first comment on this virtual mural newspaper on March 23, 2008) may I have the honour of welcoming J.G. Vassallo, one – if not the – oldest established opinion columnists in this country to Labour in labour? Welcome J.G.! We should be honoured by your presence here!

    Anna Maria Callus

  12. Amanda Busuttil said

    Fabrizio Ellul rightly thinks that Joseph Muscat’s success as Leader of the Labour Party will depepend on his ability “to re-unite the party” and then adds that “by the party I (Fabrizio)mean G.A. and now Falzon”. May I add also Evarist Bartolo and the only woman who had the guts to run for Leader? OK, none of the two stand a chance of being elected but if I were a delegate I would certainly want Marie Louise and Evarist as deputy leaders and if I were Joseph Muscat I would be very pleased to have them in my team. They may not have polled as well as Michael Falzon so far but they do represent important (and to a large extent mutually exclusive) constituencies and currents of thought within the Party). It doesn’t look like we will need a second round of voting, but if one were needed, Marie Louise’s and Evarist’s supporters should give their vote to Joseph and then, when we come to choose the deputy leaders, Joseph’s voters should go for Marie Louise as DL Parliamentary Affairs and Evarist as DL Party Affairs (his media savvyness will wreak havoc with the Nats at the next elections). In any case, this would be my dream team but who am I to decide. As J.G. Vassallo reminded us, it’s all in the delegates’ hands now!

    Amanda Busuttil

  13. Marvin Tonna and Joanne Fenech said

    Glad to see old friends reminding us that they are still around. Great to see you Anna Maria! Great to see you Amanda! We join Anna Maria in greeting newcomers to the tazebao: welcome J.G. Vassallo, we never miss what you write in the paper media, welcome to the blogosphere!
    We have never made a secret of our views, we were with Joseph Muscat, we are with Joseph Muscat and we will continue to be with Joseph Muscat. We’ll follow him all the way to Castille and we are confident that we will not have to wait until 2013.

    Marvin Tonna
    Joanne Fenech

  14. Ludmilla Zammit said

    Did you read The Times this morning? Gonzi is finally doing what Alfred Mifsud had begged Defni to do, attack George Abela! Alfred Mifsud must be celebrating! Finally Labourites will be able to rush to support the victim of the Nationalist Party’s wrath! So I thought until I discussed it with Johnny Z., our office handyman and factotum. Between a “bela te” and another “bela te” he favoured me with another of his precious proletarian political lessons: “Kemm jahsbuna tan-nejk lilna il-Laburisti?” and went on to enlighten me!

    Ludmilla Zammit

  15. Tony Zammit Zerafa said

    Gonzi’s honeymoon is almost over. Friday morning we will be able to begin to build the red and green alliance that will stop the hordes of land speculators and assorted crooks that need this spineless government and drive them into the sea. On second thoughts, better not. They would further pollute our coastline!

    Tony Zammit Zerafa

  16. fabrizioellul said

    @Amanda Busutill.

    I didn’t mention Evarist and Marie-Colerio because there is no problem with them. I’m sure that both of them will work well with the future leader.

    One has to see whether Muscat-Abela-Falzon will be able to work together. Falzon, gave his heart to the MLP; so I think he will. I only hope Muscat-Abela will unite the labour.

    By unite, I do not mean becoming the monolithic party that the Gonzipn is. It is like none of them have a single idea of their own. I do not even believe that they are let to express it. Those who actually speak are those with power in there. Austin and Dalli. I mean, to find strenght in the diversity of ideas; so when the next election comes, we will know that there are people with a brain of their own. Especially since, people will be able to identify themselves with different elements of the MLP.

    Joseph and Abela represent the mainstream of the Party. Not everyone will like them. So you would need people like Evarist and Marie Colerio who would be able to attract the ‘alternative’ voters.

    Fabrizio Ellul

  17. Stephen Mallia said

    It’s been a long campaign. Actually it’s been two campaigns with no break in between. Contrary to what some simple souls may think…the second campaign was/is not a fight between different Labourite currents and klikek. Ultimately even the second campaign (the leadership one, biex niftehmu, was a continuation of the first one…on the one side you had Labour and on the other you had the PN and those social and economic interests that dread the coming of a strong Labour opposition followed by, in five years latest, by a strong progressive Labour government. Anyone disagrees?

    Stephen Mallia

  18. Jules Briffa said

    Abela’s apology to university students (which ones?)was a pretty daft thing to do and the timing was even dafter. Those of you who know Tal-Qroqq well will of course know that there have been developments up here since Gonzi’s re-election. You would have imagined that with the majority of the academic staff and almost certainly of the students being Nationalists, there woould have been great and never-ending rejoicing. For some reason or another this did not happen. On the contrary, the atmosphere is one of unprecedented gloom.

    Simon Busuttil, who has an ear for these things (an ear that is more sensitive to these things than Joe Saliba’s, for all the latter’s experience as the University’s precints’ officer), said that for all intents and purposes, the election results should be considered as a ‘defeat’ by the Nationalist Party. There is a malaise at University at the moment reflected in the ‘sadness’ of most of the more decent and intelligent Nationalists, that seems to be the consequence of what Simon calls the ‘defeat’.

    These friends (yes, let’s get rid of the idea that genuine friendship and intellectual camaraderie is impossible across party-political lines) are worried by the turn things have taken within and around the PN after the elections. They feel that the result gave more power to the worst elements in the PN. Those of them that have been hoping for a real renewal within the PN, a renewal they hoped would be reflected at University with critical and progressive ideas gaining a new impetus, have had their hopes shattered by the election results.

    “The students that Abela stupidly apologised to are the same arrogant bastards who are now treating us in the same way that they treated Alfred Sant before the elections and if we dare open our mouths they tell us that if we don’t like it we can complain to Pieta’!” No wonder Simon Busuttil refused to take the post of PN General Secretary. Shame on those that suggested that Simon refused because of the better salary he has in Brussels. Abela’s ill-timed ‘apology’ to the students (again, which students?) is a crystal clear indication that the chap is completely cut off from reality on the ground at Tal-Qroqq. As cut off as his apologist, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

    Jules Briffa

  19. Toni Briffa said

    It is about time that labour understands that young and intelligent people are the way forward. The young must be given the helm; they have the dreams and the vision to understand our brave new world which is ruled more and more by people under fifty. Good luck:
    THINK CHANGE TO CHANGE THINGS!

    Toni Briffa

  20. Andrew Sciberras said

    Please allow me to be a little pessimistic (I am under stress from Law and Philosophy exams :P). I am a little worried about the circumstances that should develop at Mile End should the top two contenders, Joseph Muscat and George Abela be split right down the middle if the voting process goes to a second round. I wonder what would be the repercussions if such a situation is to exist? Well its all speculation but as a James Debono said (Maltatoday) in his article ‘Division of Labour? A party’s split personality’ (Wednesday, 28 May:

    “History would be on Muscat’s side (if he wins), because the need for a strong opposition with a chance of winning in 2013 will surely prevail over bitterness and recriminations. But if the contest protracts to a second round in which the three eliminated candidates rally behind the runner-up, a polarising contest could leave the party divided in two rival camps; with the runner-up trying to regroup all those who feel left out by the Alfred Sant camp and the party’s administration.”

    Well one hopes that such a situation will not manifest itself, whoever is elected leader. I’m sure that this time round Labour and its supporters will do their best to unite and be winners (and not just in elections). After all this is the situation that the right-wing media tried to create from day one and I’m sure we won’t fall for it. If there’s an unfortunate bunch of gloomy boys and gals seeking to cause havoc maybe that wooden karkur might come in handy after all lol 🙂

    As J.G. Vassallo said, we should now start discussing what the new Labour leader ought to do and the priorities that need tackling as soon as the new leadership is elected.

    Andrew Sciberras

  21. Rino Ceronte said

    Thanks to di-ve.com I caught up with last Friday’s edition that I had missed because it was boys’ monthly night out and I would not miss that for the world.

    Sitting through the whole show – thanks to the fast-forward facility helped me skip the deluge of commercials and the silly songs I came to the following conclusions:

    1) Labour’s electoral commission deserves full praise for putting its foot down and dictated its terms for the participation of the five election contenders on Peppi’s circus.

    3) A five year old child could see through Peppi’s agenda that went something like this: “Hey delegates, the surveys say that the nation wants George Abela so don’t be a bunch of morons, follow the herd and choose George Abela. This is what the PN electors did when they voted Gonzi. They followed the herd and elected Lawrence.

    3) A five year old child could also notice the way Peppi picks the speakers from the audience which was blatantly made up of George Abela supporters. Well rehearsed practically all three of them echoing George Abela’s rhetoric throughout his campaign

    4) Professor Fenech, one of George Abela’s promoters was ready to put his money where his mouth was and challenged the gentleman sitting to his left to a bet that Abela would win the election. Professor Fenech went overboard to illuminate us with George Abela’s achievements as Deputy Leader for Party Affairs between 1992 and 1998 to the extent that he said that George Abela laid the foundation stone at Labour’s new headquarters in Hamrun. Now this would have been a serious distortion of history if the event is not etched in stone and photographed for memory. Prof Fenech tried his best to mitigate George Abela’s jumping ship back in July 1998. George Abela then did not accept the overwhelming majority vote that endorsed a motion in favour of early election. A motion he himself had endorsed the day before during a National executive meeting.

    5) Peppi Azzopardi was more than happy to give professor Fenech a hand. He gave him the facility to wind up the debate as the last speaker.

    Hallina Peppi!

    Rino Ceronte

    [Author’s identity is well known to the Caretaker! The Caretaker]

  22. Alfred Calleja said

    Business and pleasure kept me away from this fair Island of ours for quite some time and, I am happy to register, although I had internet facilities 24/7 I refused to surf into the local blog scene. I used my lap-top only for business and emails and decided to give gossip and village pump political controversies a miss. It was hard but I succeeded.

    I was back last Friday just in time to unpack, unwind and do some TV channel hopping as a sleep inducing exercise that works wonders with me. But it was not to be so this time around. I crashed into Xarabank and that was that. Usually I am out of this parody of an intelligent talk show faster than I am in because I cannot stand mediocrity and manipulation. What media expert Father Joe Borg once called Trash Tv when referring to Xarabank, is a condensation of my two abhorrent “M”s but sometimes I do stop to watch and listen for a while especially if the subject strikes a chord with me.

    With all due respect to the many respectable and well informed persons who accept Peppi Azzopardi’s invitations to sit on his panels or among the audience, mediocrity rules in Peppi’s arena. I have seen interventions from the audience by persons who are there just to win a “pizza ghal-tnejn” and who could hardly make sense of two syllables least of all to come up with one coherent sentence. Peppi has the talent to pick and choose the speakers he wants to sing his tune and those he wants to ridicule according to the road in which he steers his very often inane talk show.

    This leads me to the issue of manipulation. Last Friday’s Xarabank was a ticket to ride for George Abela. The three speakers invited to speak from the floor were very well rehearsed to parrot sound bites from George Abela’s campaign rhetoric. Peppi Azzopardi did not stop there. He gave Prof. Dominic Fenech, who was backing George Abela to the hilt, the opportunity to wind-up and conclude the show with a veiled but very transparent message to vote for George Abela. Prof Fenech let the cat out of the bag and exposed the coterie when he addressed directly Olvin Vella who came up with the old chestnut that he is a Nationalist voter but dying to vote for Labour if George Abela is elected Leader. Really? Who do you think you are fooling Olvin?

    Peppi’s manipulation struck home when he introduced the visit by Martin Schulz in the debate. In the same breath he declared with hand on heart that he did not find anything wrong in this visit. Yet two minutes later he was stoking coal on the fire that was raging against Martin Schulz’s visit.

    Since I am somehow abnegated in maths and figures I shall refrain from going into the survey figures released in last Fridy’s Xarabank.

    This is why I am in total agreement with the post by Rino Ceronte – by the way, if you are for real Mr Ceronte, did you ever forgive the parent who chose your first name? Yes Labour’s electoral commission was right not to allow the contenders participate in Xarabank and, two, I agree with him that even a five year old child can see through Peppi Azzopardi’s politically biased theatrics.

    Louis Buñuel was probably one of the greatest manipulators of cinema, such was his ability to make controversial, thought-provoking, sinister, sexy, and funny films like Viridiana and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise. But Peppi is hardly Bunuel. His medium is mediocre populist television where he plays ringmaster to an audience that flips over Becky and Sur Gawdenz.

    Alfred Calleja

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