Josianne Cutajar | Why they call us Socialists, and we like it

Perhaps we are called Socialists because we understand privilege

Josianne Cutajar is a Labour candidate for the European elections

The closer we get to election day, the more is Government being called Socialist by the Opposition. If it is meant to insult anyone close to Government, the plot needs tweaking as I could not be happier with this label.

Perhaps we are called Socialists because we understand privilege. Our experience away from power was long enough for a deep establishment to form, for certain people to make considerable lumps of money from public resources, and for politicians to give themselves good raises. We also understand poverty, and we do not deny it. We spoke about it when in the Opposition, and started tackling it immediately when in Government. 29,000 people used to be poor and are no longer deprived, because this Government cares. We won’t abdicate this responsibility because a decent living is a question of right according to us. Economically, we baked a much larger cake, which is now being shared amongst everyone. Critics are now saying that this growth is too big, but I would choose this challenge over the stagnation we had before any time and any day. I’m quite willing to bet most of the electorate would agree.

As a Gozitan growing up under a Nationalist administration, I used to think full employment was a mirage found only in Socialist utopias. That was before we made it happen here in Malta, where everybody who is willing and able has a job.

The war declared on indecent working conditions is still ongoing, and any employer found guilty of precarious employment is precluded from bidding on public tenders. I still think that we need to induce our enforcement efforts if we are to win this war once and for all.  
Are we called Socialists because we raised the minimum wage? Or because we introduced an automatic mechanism to ensure nobody is on it for more than one year?

We might be called Socialists because we have ensured free childcare for everyone working or studying full-time. Or perhaps due to the creation of a maternity leave fund. Both family friendly measures are intended to welcome more women in the workforce, because the numbers we found were inadequate. Increasing parental leave and taking our free childcare measure to the next level will enable more families to make their own decisions on career development and caring responsibilities. Addressing gender inequality might have earned us the title of Socialists, and it only makes us proud.   

Are we called Socialists because we made sure utility bills did not remain so hefty?

They might be little, but at least, nowadays people find cheques in their mailbox in the morning.

We are Socialists because we care about the elderly, and our strong economy enabled us to increase pensions twice already, with further increases on the horizon.

We think the rights of persons with disability are a matter of social justice and not merely medical. I think that isn’t enough to make us Socialists, but enforcing the ‘2% of workforce rule’ and the way by which we increased allowances and ensured better access to services, definitely are.

Or perhaps we are called Socialists because we are providing social housing, after the longest ever halt to any construction of such units?
Socialism is not just economic. It is a way of life that values respect, solidarity, openness and empathy. All of these happen to remind me of European values which were touted by some back in the day.

Because we are Socialists, we ensured huge progress in civil liberties, including marriage equality. We don’t abstain when it comes to deciding on people’s freedom to live their life their way.

We love life, and that is why we made sure that all couples, their sexual orientation notwithstanding, have equal access to IVF treatment.
Maltese society is now more open, more equal and more prosperous. If that is possible because we are Socialists, there is nothing else I want to be.

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