|NEWS | Sunday, 27 January 2008
ELECTION: ‘Bring it on’,
Opposition Leader Alfred Sant will be throwing the ball back into Lawrence Gonzi’s court today when he addresses party delegates at the Labour general conference: his first public address since the press conference detailing his medical situation two weeks ago.
Sant is expected to show that he intends to make a fiery comeback despite his convalescence from colon cancer and the ongoing chemotherapy, giving every indication he is ready to face an election any time the Prime Minister decides to call it.
“Bring it on now,” he will be telling the prime minister this morning in his party’s call to arms, goading Gonzi to get the people to pass judgement on his administration’s performance and stop the electoral speculation.
It will be a veritable show of force at Mile End road, following days of repeated calls to the party faithful to follow Sant’s speech outside the Labour building in Ħamrun on big screens in what is bound to be turned into a mass meeting of sorts and a live media event on the party’s television station.
Symbolically, the event is meant to signal to Gonzi that Sant’s health is no longer a factor in the election date, although the party machinery has been only too eager to exploit any hint of intrusion into its leader’s ailment in the last weeks.
In a speech expected to last around 40 minutes, Sant will be referring again to his colon surgery and the recovery treatment, attacking government’s record on corruption and expounding on Labour’s newfound comrades in the British Labour Party and among European Socialists.
In fact the general conference has been characterised by the star appearance of high profile foreign Socialists, including UK’s Health Secretary Alan Johnson on Friday night.
The idea behind the strategy is to give an image of a party with close ties to its European counterparts after a long crusade against EU membership that pitted the MLP against the Socialist norm.
The campaign, with a magenta backdrop and corporate hues, includes a jingle based on the 1980s smash hit by Yazz, ‘The Only Way Is Up’, unveiled Friday night at the Labour conference.
It is a remixed version that substitutes the word “baby” with “Labour”, although with the recent faux pas by David Casa’s assistant Andre Carbonaro, whose comparison of the MLP to a condom on his Facebook profile was given wide publicity by the Opposition itself, the unintended pun is bound to remain imprinted in the electorate’s minds.
On the PN front, activists have been summoned a week ago by the party’s electoral wing Elcom, headed by Henrì Darmanin, at the Fleur de Lys party club – where the PN’s electoral machine is based until the central office construction is finished – to organise the election volunteers.
The activists were asked to pass on details of street leaders and other helpers as soon as possible, although insiders said this was already a bit late in the day.
Meanwhile in the last PN executive meeting held on Thursday 17 January, secretary general Joe Saliba told those attending that their party’s policies were still preferred to Labour’s, but he gave no hint of where it stood in opinion polls gauging voters’ preferences.
Among the party activists, the suspicion is that the biggest problem lies with the PN strongholds, from the eighth district upwards.