Robert Abela calls for a 'new page' in the Labour party

Labour MP Robert Abela and other party exponents weigh in on the current political crisis triggered by the investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Labour exponents called for change in the Labour party
Labour exponents called for change in the Labour party

Some Labour party figures took to social media on Thursday morning to call for a change in the Labour party, a new page and the courage required for such changes to be made.

In the midst of political uncertainty as Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's future hangs in the balance, Labour MPs and key figures within the party turned vocal and called for a new page. Muscat's former chief of staff resigned on Tuesday just ahead of being questioned by police for his possible involvement in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

While some Labour ministers such as education minister Evarist Bartolo and family minister Michael Falzon only made references to the Nationalist Party this morning, and how such a party was fuelling agitation and was not fit to govern, others conceded that the Labour party had failed in some respects.

Labour MP Robert Abela wrote a lengthy and poignant post on Facebook, calling for a change at the Labour party's roots, and for the party to do so for the benefit of its supporters.

"This is the moment where we really listen and answer to the cry of thousands of Labourites and genuine Maltese people who once again proved to be behind us in these tough times even though they were forgotten and even though we’ve been arrogant with them.

"This is the government that has a strong mandate to govern, that has a sacrosanct obligation to govern until the end of this legislature and that has the duty to carry out the changes necessary in line with that mandate... this change isn’t effected in public manifestations. This change starts when we curb our ego, where politicians stop being obsessed with vanity instead of working in silence. We always shy away from essential talk and end up participating in parochial politics."

Abela criticised the Nationalist Party and said that people like former PN leader Simon Busuttil, Jason Azzopardi and Karol Aquilina couldn't possible lead the country since they were motivated by vengeance and did not even have their own party at heart.

"We need reasonable targets, genuine targets of decency, seriousness and integrity instead of the hypocrisy that we’ve seen in the last days from some who pretend that they’re clean but who in their time in power threatened to destroy the country... [these changes] cannot be made by people like Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina or Jason Azzopardi, who are motivated only by vengeance and have absolutely no idea how to lead the country forward in prosperity and peace."

Abela called for a truly independent media and to not make the mistake of criticising the entire business community when such businesses could strengthen the economy and keep guaranteeing work and the creation of wealth.

He added that he was heartbroken that the government had been doing so well in so many sectors only to risk such progress to all be lost.

"It's sad because we are still in the halfway mark and there's still a lot more to implement. There are still so many people who still deserve justice and who are still suffering and whom we cannot abandon. There are still so many valid people within the Labour party who have good intentions and entusiasm."

Labour Pembroke mayor Dean Hili said that the Labour party needed to undergo a rapid change.

"There is an urgent need to start a new page. With full respect to the Labour Party, its ideals and all that it believes in, there is the need to examine our conscience. We need to examine how and why party structures, a well-oiled and functioning machine, permitted the closing of an eye to that which manifestly had nothing to do with socialist ideals, the antithesis of the welfare state.

"We need to strengthen the party’s ideals, whether it is in government or not, and we shouldn’t shy away from chastising whoever manifestly abandons these same ideals. We have the duty to renew ourselves and make the party the best version it can be," Hili wrote.

Parliamentary secretary for reforms Julia Farrugia Portelli echoed her colleagues' sentiments. She argued that besides change, courage was needed to effect such changes. 

"Courage is that basic principle for why I entered politics. I did so to serve. I did so to work. To help the less fortunate, to give a hand to the ones on the lower rung of the ladder. I entered politics with humility but head high because I always earned my daily bread by working for it, decently and cleanly, like any other family in the country.

"The current political scene is not the politics I took an oath for when I kissed the crucifix," she said.

She wrote that words like 'killers', 'corrupt', and 'mafia', words that had been the cries of protestors outside parliament for the last few days were hurtful and ultimately untrue because there were many who couldn't possibly have earnt such designations.

"I believe that the majority of us who entered politics did so in this spirit. Words from the masses that label us as killers, corrupt and mafia are words that hurt. This is not the truth and is the worst picture that one could present to our children, who are still growing and might one day aspire to become politicians.

"Malta needs to rest and to start healing the wound as soon as possible. In this moment, we need unity not division. We need the political class to keep working and to show its work."