Labour at a crossroads

In these difficult times we must strive for reason against passion and hatred; for patriotism rather than partisanship, and above all work together for the common good

In May 2016 in Parliament, when secret bank accounts in Panama of 140 politicians in 50 different countries, including Malta, were revealed, I asked whether we are in politics “for personal interest or the common good”
In May 2016 in Parliament, when secret bank accounts in Panama of 140 politicians in 50 different countries, including Malta, were revealed, I asked whether we are in politics “for personal interest or the common good”

At a crossroads: either protect your country from the worst criminals of murder and money laundering and other crimes; or work for a better country where justice with everyone can prevail without fear or favour.

Almost 100 years ago, honest and hard-working people in our country got together to give birth to the Labour Party - because they wanted a just society: not just a better distribution of wealth, but also in the protection of the law, where everyone is equal before the law and in which money and power provided no protection.

I have spoken to many Maltese who express serious concern that the situation might deteriorate. In these difficult times we must strive for reason against passion and hatred; for patriotism rather than partisanship, and above all work together for the common good.

Even the strongest fruit- bearing tree needs pruning, otherwise the tree will fall and die a natural death. And if this strong Labour Party withers and dies who is going to suffer? Surely not those with wealth stashed away, but those who are less affluent and whose voice does not have enough weight in our society. They will end up suffering mostly if we lose the economic stability that we have recently managed to acquire.

The tree is stronger than each individual branch. We might remove certain branches but we must act to ensure that the tree as such survives.

I have often said to myself that to govern properly you must listen to the complaints and criticism of the people. You must act upon them because if there is a fire burning in a building, you do not turn off the fire alarm but try to extinguish the fire.

We are going through a very difficult time. If we love our country and our people we must make sure that our country performs better. It is certainly not the time to stir up trouble and spread hatred and violence against each other. Protests are essential in a democracy but these should be civilised and democratic and must ensure that temperatures do not run high. The police force and the law courts should do their part to ensure that justice is carried out. Meanwhile, we should be cautious to ensure that our country continues and builds on the wealth generated and create the work that can take care of families, especially those who are less fortunate than others.

We must love all of Malta with all our hearts and at all times. In his novel The Brothers Kill Each Other, Nikos Kazantzakis recounts what happened 75 years ago in Greece when the Greeks turned against each other and began to kill one another. We are not in that situation and we should do everything not to get to that situation. In a powerful sermon the priest Yanaros says: “Not one leader, either red or black, has the whole of Greece in his heart; all of them have her divided – the criminals have cut her in two, as if she were not alive. And each piece has gone mad and wants to eat the other. Kings, politicians, officers, bishops, leaders in the hills, captains in the valley, all of them, all of them have gone mad. They’re wild, hungry wolves, and we the people, are the meat, they see us as meat and they devour us.”

Recent events and various reports are causing concern. Many people are confused, lost, angry, disappointed and feel betrayed. We have learnt and still have yet much to learn from what happened. I believe that with honesty, humility, and love for our people and our country, we can turn a new page. There is a lot of good in our people and together we can do much better for our country.

Dinosaurs were large animals that gradually became extinct after an asteroid impact over the world. The Labour Party is a great party and has brought, and is making, much wealth to our people and our country. But if it will not react honestly and realistically to what is happening, there is a great chance that it will meet the fate of the dinosaurs. But in that case it will be suicide and we should and can avoid it. Why should we commit this suicide when our party has so much to offer and can still generate so much wealth? Yes we need big business, and we need the investment for economic development, but businesses should not have any extra influence in our country and on our institutions.

I have been part of the Labour Party for the last 41 years, 27 of them as an MP. I contested the last seven general elections and was elected in each of them from two districts. I consider the current times as the most difficult and painful time I have ever lived in politics. In May 2016 in Parliament, when secret bank accounts in Panama of 140 politicians in 50 different countries, including Malta, were revealed, I asked whether we are in politics “for personal interest or the common good”.

I spoke on “how friendships in business and in politics can bring about serious problems and immoral actions…”.

I warned on the dangers  of having democratic governance polluted and on ensuring that network secrecy and other networks can pollute the process of how decisions are taken in a democratic society. In Parliament I warned on the forces in society where networks could obtain more influence that is neither suppressed nor scrutinised.

This is a danger to democracy and we should never allow networks of people who pretend to fall in love with the parties and try to infiltrate the parties for personal gain. Often it is not what happens on stage that is important but what happens behind the scenes, and citizens do not always know what is happening behind the scenes.

This is why it is important that we take all necessary steps to ensure that our country’s institutions retain full scrutiny of how decisions are taken.

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