07 MAY 2003

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Toon this week: Chipping away

Labour’s confused state

Confusion reigns within the Malta Labour Party and the likelihood is that come 15 May when Alfred Sant once again takes the leadership, he will be inheriting a party with greater division than that he gave up.
Since the elections, few within the party have had the courage to speak openly about which direction they would like to see the party taking.
Some have decided not to take positions they probably could have. Evarist Bartolo chose to gun for deputy leader rather than leader, and George Vella has decided to step down from the deputy leader position.
John Attard Montalto, Anglu Farrugia, Alfred Mifsud and Jose Herrera have not had the courage to get all off their chests, but reading between the lines it is very clear where these stand.
Mystery shrouds other potential front runners like Charles Mangion and Chris Cardona. These politicians are known to be moderates in the Labour camp, and would seem to be biding time until rough waters calm.
The Sant clan is clearly digging its heals in, and despite the decision to stop Manuel Cuschieri’s radio programme ‘Tajjeb li tkun taf,’ will continue to do so in the coming days until the elections.
For many within the Sant clan the leadership issue is not just a matter of policy direction, but for many it involves income and jobs, besides perks. These people will not want to see the Party slipping out of Sant’s hands too easily. Whether their stand will, in the long run, be helpful to the party is another question and most in the Labour party want to see an electable party taking shape.
Prominent Labour members not in Parliament, including international secretary Dr Michael Falzon and former deputy leader George Abela are holding their horses, while former premier Dom Mintoff is doing anything but.
Mintoff was the only Labour politician wanting Alfred Sant to step down. And he said so loud and clear even if the octogenarian still haunts the party.
The next few days will divide the men from the sheep within the party and it is hard to imagine that those who would like to see radical changes within the party can continue to suffer Sant’s dictatorial nature.
Evarist Bartolo has called for radical change within the party but his desire for change is perhaps not radical enough.
We would like to see a Labour Party that is able to accept criticism, one that is able to criticise messages rather than insult messengers, one that will really make a difference in the fields of education and the environment, and above all one that will instil business confidence.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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