Labour in labour

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

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That cool spring in the hot summer of 08…

Posted by fcb on July 7, 2008

Spring, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Flemish (ca. 1564 – ca. 1638), Oil on Panel 16 3/4 x 22 15/16″,
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

We’re back where it’s at. Our ‘refurbishment’ took a while longer than originally expected but we needed all the time we could grab to reflect on where we came from, where we are now and where we want to go. We were – we are – elated at the choice made by the absolute majority of the Labour Conference delegates. Joseph is the best thing that happened to Labour in Malta for a long time.

We needed time to work out how, now that we had the sort of leader we had been dreaming of, we were going to set out to convince thinking men and women in Malta and Gozo that not only is Joseph’s approach a politically effective alternative to the way Labour has projected itself to date but that he represents a political alternative for the Country as a whole. He has indeed inaugurated a new political season, a political Spring… not only for Labourites but for all those who care what happens to this Country.

Having said this, we’d like it to be crystal clear that Labour in labour is not a Joseph Muscat fan blog. We’re not into personality cults. That sort of thing belongs to the past of a part of the European Left and is now dead and buried. Our intellectual roots may be traced back to various sources and the European Left is certainly one of the major ones. The nutrients we draw from this cultural soil, however, are not adopted uncritically.

Indeed, adopting the best traditions of the European Left means adopting nothing uncritically. We dislike having others chew our bread for us. We like to chew our own bread and to chew it thoroughly. Personality cults of any sort, from whatever political tradition they may come from, are the bits that get stuck in our throat.

One important reason why we reject the notion that history can be explained by the actions or qualities of an individual, is that this leads to underestimating the importance of having civil society on one’s side if one is to make a difference. Converting civil society to a new political vision cannot be achieved overnight by skillful marketing campaigns, no matter how massive.

If the conversion is to be a long term one, the various components of civil society need to understand why the new vision is the best possible one for them. Techniques that have been perfected to sell products designed to become obsolete as soon as possible (to make way for new products in an insatiable market) are inadequate to engage thinking men and women in a dialogue aimed at satisfying their queries and overcoming their understandable mistrust of ‘politics’.

Support won by patiently engaging an individual in a meaningful dialogue – by reasoning with him or her, by telling the truth even when it is unpleasant, by not proposing simplistic pseudo-solutions to genuinely complex issues – will have a more lasting effect. Support thus won will not disappear as soon as we encounter the slightest turbulence. Instant support ‘won’ with instant techniques tends to be superficial. It tends to shift easily to the latest product sold with the same techniques.

Our unsolicited mission is to contribute to Joseph’s new political season, to the political spring he has so enthusiastically initiated this unforgettable summer 2008, by engaging those that were yearning for such a spring but who are – understandably – disenchanted and wary of mirages. Our job is to convince them that there is no credible alternative to our alternative and that it is not an illusion. It is real, worthwhile and feasible.

Why Labour in labour ? Well Labour is still ‘in labour’. Having chosen a new leader does not, by any means, conclude the process of renewal the Labour Party so badly needed and – to the extent that the process is by no means concluded – that it still needs. Two deputy leaders have been chosen and in a month’s time the Delegates will be able to choose a new Administration. About this, however, we’ll say something tomorrow. And in any case, Labour will still be ‘in labour’ for quite a while even after it has chosen its General Secretary and the other officials. A new party is not born easily.


14 Responses to “That cool spring in the hot summer of 08…”

  1. harloc said

    Finally you made it to come back online and I wonder what took you so long. It will be very interesting caretaker to let us know what happened since all you managed to change was from the colour red to colour green (I wownder why when we speak of labour and socialism). I sincerely hope that most of the positive contributors you ahd here will come back and give their views on the way forward for Labour.

    Furthermore, I think it is about time to take action from your end and let us know who you are so that you will instigate us to show our names.

    Hope that in your editorials you will be less biased towards a certain faction of the party and you will be the one to discuss topics such as the oil price hikes and the effects on the different social classes especially the middle class, discuss the proposals made the MLP and the reply of Gonzi to such proposals etc…etc….


  2. fabrizioellul said

    Welcome back guys,

    I’m not that convinced on the green fonts and ‘Re-inventing the Malta Labour Party (and Maltese politics): an unauthorised tazebao.’ A bit too long. Labour in Labour ‘an unauthorised tazebao’, sounds much better.

    I would have kept the ‘red’ colour or the ‘magenta’. I prefer the latter … taste I guess.

    Anyways, an interesting first ‘spring’ entry.

  3. Ganni said

    At last….

    welcome back everyone.

    Looking forward to “tomorrow’s” comment on the new Administration. Whilst positively evaluating the delegates’ choice of the leader and deputy leaders, we have to look forward to elect the most appropriate persons for the party’s top posts.

    May we have a healthy exchange of ideas in this blog.


  4. Dorothy Camilleri said

    Up to now Labour got more than it bargained for with the election of Joseph. I am writing not to praise him, but to state a fact acknowledged especially by his adversaries. However, Joseph alone wan’t make it, unless he is backed by a lean, efficient, professional team. This team has to be young in its majority,professional, and possibly originating from the business world….the real world.
    PN was not making hay whilst the sun was shinning, indeed, now that so many huge problems are looming on the horizon, confronting these problems, let alone solving them, is going to be the litmus test for Dr Gonzi; we have to wait and see.


  5. Rudi Meilak said

    Welcome back from me too guys,
    my heart, like Fabrizio’s, is for the ‘red’ colour but my head says that we must reach out for our natural allies, the Greens, if we are going to kick Gonzi out of power. After all, the environment is the main victim of Gonzi’s total powerlessness to keep his clowns in line. Before the elections Labour warned that a vote for Gonzi would mean a vote for George Pullicino. And it has! Read yesterday’s Malta Today: “Environment Minister George Pullicino, former MEPA Chairman Andrew Calleja and tuna tycoon Charles Azzoppardi, went together on a yatching trip to Sicily right in the middle of the tuna pen controversy. Yet, both the Minister and Calleja deny any conflict of interest.”
    Had Labour and AD formed a joint front at the last election – and the Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando scandal would have been reason enough to do so – this rotten-to-the-core taparsi-government would not have been here today.
    Go on! Do us proud Joseph!
    Rudi Meilak
    London NW6

  6. J. Borg said

    oh finally it’s back 🙂

    as regards the colour, I must say I like it more as it was before. Maybe a less bright shade of green would be ok. Maybe magenta as Fabrizio suggested would be ok too. Well this all boils down to tastes.

    The new name might be too long, and maybe too far-reaching in its declared aim….

    I agree that Labour should not try to build a personality cult. Labour should not try to produce another Mintoff. However, maybe, Maltese society and mentality finds itself comfortable with a paternal / maternal figure. I’m not sure about this, but maybe the average Maltese person likes, maybe unconsciously, the idea of being led by a person having the image of a strong leader who is able to fight the strongest foe and at the same time solve the pettiest personal problems which that person might have. I really don’t know what to think about this…

    Anyway, it’s nice to have you back 🙂 carry on with the good work.

    J. Borg

  7. Moira Farrugia Brady said

    A certain Peter Muscat has just posted an interesting comment on DCG’s blog a couple of hours ago. This guy ends his sermon with the following edifying thought: “Many on this blog are honest Christians from good, educated families. Let’s work for truth an [sic] honesty. Remember: together everything is possible.” Reminds me of someone else’s words…Austin Walker, MEPA’s brand-new chairman, who – acknowledging that he instructed his PRO to write a press statement pre-announcing the outcome of a MEPA board meeting on the 20-storey Fort Cambridge development – piously said: “I pray to God to give me the wisdom not to repeat similar mistakes in the future”. Yes, Peter, everything is indeed possible!


    [CARETAKER’S NOTE: It is our policy to invite individuals writing in other blogs and quoted by commentators in our tazebao, to reply. We have just left a note on DCG’s blog for the attention of Peter Muscat, cordially inviting him to reply to Moira’s comment above. We do not know if DCG will in fact upload our message for Peter…unfortunately we have no other way of contacting the gentleman.]

  8. Thomas Falzon said

    Of this blog’s new name, J. Borg says that it “…might be too long, and maybe too far-reaching in its declared aim…”. On the contrary, I think that the new name is most appropriate: “Labour in labour. Re-inventing the Malta Labour Party (and Maltese politics): an unauthorised tazebao.” The new Labour Party many of us dream of is still mainly on the drawing board. True, we have a new leader (and what a new leader!)and in month’s time we’ll have a full Administration (he already has two deputies, we’ll also have a president, a general secretary,and secretaries for finance, public relations, international affairs).

    True, Joseph has just distributed portfolios to the Parliamentary Group. But the job of reorganising the Party, of inspiring it with a new outward-reaching culture, of forging ties with the various sections of civil society, of promoting the emergence of a “movement of progressive and moderates” that is bigger than the Party itself and includes all those who have different roots from it but who yearn for the same fundamental outcomes…all this still remains to be done – indeed, much of it still remains to be thoroughly thought through. Hence Labour is still in labour.

    What remains to be done amounts to nothing less that re-inventing the Malta Labour Party. And it will not be easy. There will certainly be well-meaning brothers and sisters who will resist the need to go beyond “speak[ing] of labour and socialism” (to quote Harloc above).

    But what’s more, what remains to be done is re-inventing Maltese politics. You will have noticed how the Nationalist Party has been clearly taken aback by Joseph’s alternative way of doing politics and Joe Saliba, former General Secretary, was quick to to suggest that although the new Labour leader was an alternative to his predecessor he could not be an alternative to Lawrence Gonzi. Those of us with our ears to the ground know that Joseph’s innovative and non-tribal approach has given courage to those intelligent and progressive Nationalists who have their noses full of the inward-looking political culture that dominates their party and only serves the interests of the cliques that are destroying this country.

    Yes, Joseph is re-inventing Maltese politics. A “far-reaching aim”? Yes, of course, why else did we choose Joseph Muscat?

    Thomas Falzon

  9. J. Borg said

    dear Thomas, I didn’t say that Joseph can’t, or shouldn’t, re-invent Maltese politics. I was talking about this blog 😉 I agree with the rest of your comments…

    J. Borg

  10. Leli said

    Welcome back guys! I missed you lots!

    The green colour goes well with the mission of the tazebao “Re-inventing the Malta Labour Party (and Maltese politics)”.

    Let’s prepare a paper together (on-line) with what we would like to see in the short term. Perhaps we can present it to the new leadership.

    For your consideration


  11. danny attard said

    Hi Leli, greetings all 🙂 perhaps we should go one step at a time. I would consider upgrading news as a number one internal organizational priority. Toned down delivery, more audience-friendly caster who suggests she/he has a sense of humour, taking up less of our screen, with a more serene background, more foreign news taking up early part of the delivery, more input from professional observers, less rhetoric and above all, not starting with ‘Il kap ta’ l-opposizzjoni Joseph Muscat…cringe:( radio-wise can we have a revamped style in announcing party events…we have had the same voice, same beat, same tone, for the past thirty years or so. I am sure we can come up with something less passe’


  12. nevillegafa said

    Hi guys.One short comment-Please give us the red colour back.It’s much comfortable for us out here.
    Neville Gafa’.

  13. fabrizioellul said

    @ rudi.

    my comment was from an aesthetic point of view.

    @ neville,

    maybe that is the problem; you got too ‘comfortable’.


  14. Readers take a sigh and read this copy and paste written by a certain Doctor F.Saliba in a Times of Malta blog run by Mr. Grixti. The doctor is referring, as it is quite clear, on the filling of the highest positions in Maltese Society.

    “…..please consider Sir Anthony Mamo who achieved the highest possible level in the Judiciary and then moved on to become the first President of the Republic. ”
    Having read the above now read what follows written by the same Doctor.
    Don’t think you are out of your senses, you are reading a “copy and paste paragraph.
    “What was introduced during the Mintoffian experience was the filling of high positions in society by those who had no credentials…”
    The distracted doctor for so he appears, seems to have regretted his eulogy of the late President A.Mamo.
    According to his (wrong) reasoning the late President Mamo attaining the highest level of society” is one of those who had no credentials, apart from being “yes men” affiliated to the MLP, (and was part)(my inclusion) of a new “aristocracy” whose membership only required participation in the mob violence of wrecking the Archbishop’s Curia, the printing presses of the Times and the residence of H.E. the incumbent President of the Republic, the Hon. Dr Eddie Fenech Adami.
    Some people are so blinded by their hate of everything Labour and workers
    that do not bother much about what they write provided they feel that they are aggressing the MLP.

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