Fearne’s activists rallying Labour delegates in health department for ministry meetings

Labour Party delegates in the national healthcare system asked to attend meeting with Deputy Prime Minister over a possible party leadership bid

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne summoned party delegates to a meeting regarding a possible future party leadership bid
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne summoned party delegates to a meeting regarding a possible future party leadership bid

Labour Party delegates who are employed in the country’s national healthcare system have been asked to attend meetings with health minister and deputy prime minister Chris Fearne, over a possible future party leadership bid.

Two health workers who spoke to MaltaToday on condition of anonymity said they were summoned to a party meeting to form part of a possible future leadership bid by the minister.

Both workers are Labour Party delegates, who, however, did not attend the meeting that was convened.

“We were told in no uncertain terms that the meeting was intended to scout for some campaigning muscle for plans the minister might have for a future leadership bid,” one delegate told MaltaToday.

“We were asked to attend a meeting hosted by the minister about ways of assisting him in any future campaign for a leadership bid,” the other delegate said.

The delegates said calls were made to practically all Labour delegates who have a job inside the health department.

They also said that Carmen Camilleri Ciantar, the CEO for the Foundation for Medical Services, was involved in the effort to summon delegates to the meeting, which was held at the ministry in Valletta.

A spokesperson for the health minister did not deny the claims when they were put to her.

“Labour deputy leader Chris Fearne meets with party delegates on a regular basis. Indeed, he would be neglecting his role as deputy leader if he did not listen and discuss policy with the party grassroots.”

MaltaToday was told that while the meeting garnered wide attention from Labour delegates employed in the health department, delegates who did not attend were wary of being “singled out” for an evidence lack of interest or support.

However, this newspaper is informed that one delegate who attended the meeting took the opportunity to ask the minister why he was hosting such a meeting when there was not yet any sign that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be bowing out of the party leadership.

“We were 14 in all, including Fearne and Camilleri Ciantar,” the delegate said. “At least 24 workers were invited to the meeting.”

MaltaToday is also informed that Fearne will be holding the meeting once every two months.

Fearne has not excluded a future bid for the role of Labour leader once Muscat, who has publicly declared he will not run in a third general election, steps down from the leadership.

When he was running for the deputy leadership election in July 2017, Fearne had stressed his loyalty towards Muscat, but appeared to leave the door open to a bid, if and when the PM steps down as party leader. “I have absolute loyalty towards the Labour Party and Joseph Muscat… I believe that Joseph Muscat is the best leader the Labour Party can have in the coming years.”

Muscat has twice declared he will not be running the Labour Party at the next general election in 2022, both before and after he won the last election.

And while billed as a minister with an ambition for the top post, Fearne – a paediatric surgeon – had later said he wanted to see Muscat win a third general election and beat his third PN leader. “It would be a fitting end to an exciting, inspiring and inspired political journey which started from the bottom of the mountain and reached the highest peak.”

Fearne is described as a “formidable campaigner” by Labour insiders, and despite a MaltaToday poll showing that people like MP Robert Abela and MEP Miriam Dalli could be popular choices for a future Labour leader, the health minister has been actively setting his future course.

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