[WATCH] Red Clyde: Labour should not be ashamed of calling itself socialist

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana says the Labour Party grassroots were yearning for a party with a more socialist outlook

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana

Clyde Caruana believes the Labour Party should not be ashamed of calling itself a socialist party, insisting this represents the soul of the party.

The Finance Minister says the party grassroots had been yearning for a more socialist outlook in the wake of the party’s move towards the centre of Maltese politics.

The word socialist fell out of fashion during Alfred Sant’s time as leader in the 1990s as the party attempted to make a clean break with its immediate turbulent past in the 1980s. Sant’s new Labour, or third way, was further cemented under the leadership of Joseph Muscat, who insisted the Labour Party was pro-business and a coalition of moderates and progressives.

Flaming red flags were carefully choreographed out of mass meetings and party conferences as the migration towards the middle ground ditched the socialist worker rhetoric and symbolism.

But Caruana is not shy of using the word again and his reference to socialism during the budget speech, and a new red budget case with the Maltese national anthem’s words, ‘strength to the worker,’ etched on it, did not go unnoticed within the party structures.

“There are many within our grassroots who have been longing for that word to be used; wanting the Labour Party to be more socialist in its outlook,” he says in an interview with MaltaToday.

He says the budget presented last week was a clear indication of where the party’s soul lay with strong measures targeting pensioners and the most vulnerable families.

He says that for a long time, affirming socialist credentials was associated with election defeats. “You lose elections because you do not present clear, concrete ideas that persuade people and not because you say you are a socialist. I come from a working-class family from Żabbar and I feel part of that class to this very day. I am not ashamed to say in my credo that I harbour that belief (socialism)… I don’t believe the Labour Party should be ashamed to say it is a socialist party,” Caruana says.

He refutes the suggestion that by emphasising the party’s socialist credentials he risks shattering the coalition of moderates and progressives Muscat managed to build and which turned out to be a formidable electoral winning card.

“After all, this party’s foundations were built on offering representation to all workers – manual and non-manual workers. And this is etched on the plaque outside our headquarters. What I always learnt in life is to never forget from where I started,” he says with pride.

And he is willing to push his credo within the party structures and from the government benches. “I am one of many in the party… This is what I believe in and once I do so, I will continue working for it.”

Caruana insists that being a socialist may have been associated in the past with grabbing other people’s wealth to give it to others. “The notion was robbing Peter to pay Paul. But being a socialist means creating wealth and using it to support those who are most in need but also emphasising fairness and justice by ensuring that everyone is doing their part.”

Read the full interview with Clyde Caruana in MaltaToday. He speaks on the sustainability of Malta's finances in the wake of hefty energy subsidies and how the middle class will eventually benefit from a tax cut, but not just yet.