‘A thousand shades of Mintoff’ through the eyes of politicians, historians

New book on the political life of Dom Mintoff brings together the recollections of 54 individuals who came into close contact with the former Labour leader

Dom Mintoff's brother, Fr Dionysius Mintoff, holding the latest book on his brother's political life (Photo: Ray Attard)
Dom Mintoff's brother, Fr Dionysius Mintoff, holding the latest book on his brother's political life (Photo: Ray Attard)
'A thousand shades of Mintoff' • Video Ray Attard

A new biography on former Labour prime minister Dom Mintoff brings together 54 individuals who, in one way or another, came into close contact with Mintoff during his long political career.

Entitled ‘A thousand shades of Mintoff’ [L-elf lewn ta’ Mintoff] the book is authored by Claire Xuereb Grech based on extensive interviews held with various personalities, including politicians such as former Nationalist prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami and historians.

Launched at Auberge de Castille, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the book gave a critical analysis of who Mintoff was.

“This is not a eulogy but a critical analysis of who Mintoff was. The name hits the nail on the head as Mintoff was truly a man of many colours,” he said.

Muscat said that the best definition he ever head of Mintoff was when he was compared to the sun.

“Il-Perit was definitely like the sun…nice, warm and full of light but you might get burned if you get too close. And Mintoff was just like that,” he said. He argued, that many had incorrectly deciphered Mintoff as one who listened to no one.

The Prime Minister said he was curious to see how Mintoff would have lived in a technology-driven era and what he would have achieved with modern tools.

“I’m sure that his methodology would have been different,” Muscat said, adding that one “should not judge what methods he used to achieve something, but what his ultimate goals were”.

Muscat admitted that there came times, while walking down the stairs of Castille, that he and his aides would ask what Mintoff and other prime ministers would have done if they had still been there.

Sammy Meilak, former Dockyards chairman and Mintoff’s lifelong confidant, described Mintoff as “a prophet”.

“He was able to read the times and foresee the future. He implemented those prophecies which are still so relevant today. History has yet to prove Mintoff right on the decisions he took. To the likes of Mikiel Anton and Manwel Dimech, he was a prophet,” Meilak said.

He said, that Mintoff was able to see a strategic partner in China and understood the importance of peace in the Mediterranean for Malta to prosper.

“Europe is today advocating peace in the Mediterranean because, without peace in the Mediterranean, Europe cannot prosper.”

Meilak said Mintoff always believed in Malta’s ability to fend for itself and the island’s small size was not deemed an obstacle. Mintoff made Malta a Republic in 1974 and oversaw the closure of the British military base on March 31, 1979.

Both Meilak and Mintoff’s daughter, Yana Mintoff Bland, reiterated that neutrality was the most important principle for Mintoff.

Mintoff Bland added that family had been his backbone while their house had always been open to people “as my father discussed social policies and change”.

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