Robert Micallef | The secret of success

The secret of success is intimately entwined with reform and sustainable growth for the benefit of people who are determined not to rest on their laurels

Robert Micallef is a Labour candidate for the European elections

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat frequently and rightly expounds on the need for change, for reforms to be carried out where necessary in the on-going process of rejuvenation, be it a nation, a party, a company or some other body and organisation. It serves the purpose of enhancing the inner motor that motivates successful growth in all spheres of influence.

He certainly knows what he’s talking about. Joseph Muscat took over a wounded Labour Party that had openly done its best to reconcile itself with the electorate, for too long hoodwinked into thinking it was destined for an eternal place in the Oppposition wilderness. After all, a lot of change had already taken place after the excesses of the Eighties, when the likes of Toni Abela and Wenzu Mintoff, then part of the Labour concubinage, today highly respected figures in the Judiciary, set in motion an internal self-cleansing process ironically by first opting out of their posts and delivering the message from across the political arena.

That loudly-contested, often misinterpreted exercise of party renewal slowly gave Labour the oxygen it so urgently needed to reinvent itself without sacrificing its renowned principles based mainly on social justice and democratic principles. That was exactly thirty years ago.

April 1989 – when Toni and Wenzu, as many of us still affectionately refer to them, had tendered their resignations by way of shaking the party out of its stupor and into realisation.

The episode is today an interesting chapter in the history of modern Maltese politics. It was no overnight sensation, and the party had to work hard on gradually winning back favour among the voting public until 1996 when it was returned to power thanks to Alfred Sant’s successful reform agenda. By 1998, however, unforeseen internal turmoil and the issue of European Union membership soon led to another bout of soul-searching that had the party spending another fifteen long years in Opposition.

By the time Joseph Muscat took over the leadership, the country’s mood was changing fast and he was quick to adapt to the prevailing currents by making sure the Labour Party continued changing to build a new and wider platform able to take in the national movement that had grown out of the cry for an end to petty politics, economic stagnation and obsolete resistence to social reforms.

The rest is too fresh to bring up as history, but it is fast moulding itself into such. Malta’s economic miracle since the first Joseph Muscat administration of 2013 coincided with a national appeal for taking the nation into the 21st Century despite the usual conservative defiance at both national and European levels. Another electoral victory of historical dimensions four years later has since kept the national boat sailing ahead in what European and international analysts acknowledge as a relentless voyage of success.

The need for further reform is obvious if we are to maintain this tempo, this incredible achievement that, for the first time, results in practically zero unemployment, strong economic growth, unprecedented infrastructural progress, flourishing social benefits, decreased poverty, and a general feeling of well-being in a market that is innovative and creative enough to attract thousands of foreign workers. Even at a time of undoubted success, however, both party and country still need to seek change where change is needed, an evergoing process that is, really, the secret of it all.

It is unfortunate to have to watch the Opposition party desperately going round in circles trying to catch its own tail, when its supporters had been emphatically promised a Labour-like overhaul, “a new way” to help stop the bleeding and heal the wounds of bitter electoral defeat. When it had the opportunity and the privilege of avoiding what pitfalls the Labour Party had earlier fallen into on its way to rejuvenation, the Nationalist Opposition has taken the very negative stance that its rank and file clearly wanted to do away with. Stuck in the same old destructive groove, reaching partisan proportions even inside various European institutions, there seems to be no such respite for a majority of loyal PN supporters who wanted change across the board but only got the same, unappetising fodder from yesteryear.

Reforms are never easy to accuate, but achievable and necessary in both good and bad times. What the party in Opposition has been unable to come to terms with, the party in government has to show it is conscious of, including the collateral damage that success can bring with it.

It is the stimulus behind the Prime Minister’s call for more change, for an even stronger driving force to keep the economy growingbased on a modern infrastructure and innovation in the interest of present and future generations.

Simply looking back, even at success, can only lead to an unwelcome stall. In the past few years Malta has become known as a trailblazer, a positive-thinking nation that is not afraid to attract, embrace and exploit the mass of technological advancement that is heralding a new, more exciting future for the world, at least that part of the world open to change and innovation.

The secret of success is being intimately entwined with reform and sustainable growth for the benefit of people who are determined not to rest on their laurels.

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