04 DECEMBER 2002
It was battle stations for the Leader of Opposition on Monday when he addressed Parliament in his reply to Finance Minister John Dallis budget speech.
In his presentation he called on Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami to call an early election to put an end to all the uncertainty.
Labour leader Alfred Sant used his televised budget appearance to score points for his vision of EU partnership - based on a special arrangement with the European Union and an open-minded policy with other countries.
As in the case of his predecessor the week before, the Harvard graduate did not mince his words when it came to promulgating his particular blue print for the future.
Dr Sant touched on the failures of the current government, accusing it of creative accounting and of being the old government that had led this country into the doldrums.
He accused John Dalli in particular of presenting false figures, most especially when it came to the deficit.
He sang to the tune of the disenchanted and he played his highest work of drama with quotes of promises of Lm100million.
But he did not impress as he should have.
He hammered the message home that there was decline in growth, but he could not convince that the failure to grow was deliberately the fault of this government.
He brushed away 11 September, but how could he?
He spoke of new faces, but when we looked around him all we could see were faces from old labour and he spoke of the future but without Europe.
He barked at the taxes that the Nationalist government had introduced but in so doing confused tariffs with taxes, changes in prices with taxes and so on and so forth.
Alfred Sant has reinvented the wheel for the Labour party but in yesterdays speech he maintained a backward direction that denies Europe as the option for Malta.
He carelessly described the other avenues existed for Malta, but he could not explain the details.
Calling for an early election, the former playwright effectively called for Fenech Adami to stand up and be counted.
In doing so, Alfred Sant attempted to send out a message that he is ready to take up the challenge of the election.
But is he in a position to do so?
We welcome an early referendum/election. We too believe that this uncertainty should be erased and European Union membership applauded and welcomed.
With the negotiations about to be concluded in Copenhagen, Malta will be in a position to turn round to the electorate and confirm that membership is now only a matter of formality.
From that point on, Dr Sant will have to convince everyone that his partnership option is not the worse choice.
He will have to kick back the accusations from the europhile media that his campaign is not based on deceit and doomsday scenarios.
He will have to win the middle ground and not only the self employed, who once danced to his tune in 1996.
He will have to convince everyone that missing out on Europe is a solution.
If he wins, he should be applauded for convincing an electorate to deny their country and its children a future that can only promise economic vitality and diversity.