29 June 2005

The Web

Raw plan

When the going gets tough the tough get going, that is what a famous eighties song used to say. But in the Labour Party’s case, when the going got tough with the original document outlining an economic and social regeneration plan, the party went soft at the knees.
After almost a year of discussions with the social partners on its economic and social regeneration plan, launched in August last year, the Labour Party has finally produced its final version, which is supposed to lead the party’s charge into the next election.
But what the Labour Party delegates will be voting on in the general conference starting tomorrow will be a watered down version of the economic and social regeneration plan steered by Charles Mangion over the past few months.
An analysis of the latest document reveals much less detail than the original document had outlined. For all intents and purposes it could be a lengthy preamble to the MLP’s electoral manifesto.
The original document had proposed a limited number of controversial measures intended to boost competitiveness, encourage more women to enter productive labour and diversify Government’s tax portfolio. Suggestions to introduce a vacant property tax, remove the government bonus and re-direct it to an emergency social fund, introduce coupons for working mums wanting to use day care centres, regularise more immigrant workers as a part solution to the pensions problem, have all been scrapped in the newer version of the document.
While it was expected that the Labour Party would not embrace all the controversial proposals at its disposal, the let down in the new document is that these were not substituted by alternative suggestions. The new document is more politically inclined, setting out a very broad vision of where the party wants to arrive without a detailed map of how it should get there.
The Nationalist Party’s barrage of criticism on the eve of the local council elections shooting down each and every proposal the original MLP plan had outlined, did leave its mark it seems.
MLP deputy leader Charles Mangion promises that the details of Labour’s economic plan will be made known in the party’s electoral manifesto closer to the election. The Labour Party may have its political considerations for adopting such a strategy but at a time when people are fast losing trust in the political class the Labour Party has lost a golden opportunity to fire up people’s imagination at the half-way mark before the next general election.
The economy, its management and the prospects for a better quality of life it should be creating for each and every individual will be the single most important issue in the next election. It will not be an easy task for political parties to spell out their proposals in a situation where Government finances are anything but healthy, heavily conditioned by EU regulations and in a globalised economic climate that is increasingly pulling the carpet from underneath national governments’ feet.
Furthermore people are wary of high flying promises. It will be imperative for political parties to come up with detailed economic and financial plans that are costed and evaluated in terms of the prevailing circumstances.
Avoiding the detail not to irk voters is not a healthy way of facing an election. To become a ‘better alternative government’ rather than just an ‘alternative government’, as deputy leader Michael Falzon likes to say, the Labour Party needs to take the bold step and start dishing out the details of how it intends taking this country forward.
The devil is in the detail and with an electorate increasingly becoming impatient with the worsening economic situation, which is impinging on the quality of life, the Labour Party needs to show leadership. It is imperative that words be translated into concrete proposals sooner rather than later.

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Editor: Kurt Sansone
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