MaltaToday | 18 May 2008 | It is fait accompli

OPINION | Sunday, 18 May 2008

It is fait accompli


I hate it but I have to do it: it is all fait accompli.  History is repeating itself at the glasshouse in Hamrun and I am not surprised at all because as long as the same people have remained in control of the party machine I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel.  Lino Spiteri reported how anonymous letters have sprouted again and this all boils down to one conclusion: that they are afraid of change.
 Why all this fear, one may ask?  There is a lot of fear and panic amongst those running Hamrun because they know that if the leadership contest is won by somebody from outside the party machine, they know that their tenure is very much at stake.  These people know that unless the new leader is an ally of theirs, rough waters await them.  Lest you have not noticed, only Dr George Abela has stated that if he is elected leader he will make a financial audit of the party finances: yes only Dr Abela said that and rightly so, because he is the only one who can promise that.  The others all risked being branded as having a finger in the pie or as having been aware of the circumstances but did nothing about it.
 The people who are running the party machine in Hamrun are in for trouble if none of their allies are elected: Dr Alfred Sant may have preached transparency and zero tolerance in a lot of things in the general elections but I wished that he was as zealous in the confines of the party that he has been controlling since 1992. 
 The party finances are what they are and if the audited accounts of the companies controlled by the party have been lacking at MFSA, it shows either that the party is not run by responsible people who ensure that the party practices what it preaches, or that the party is reluctant to provide such information for fear of negative repercussions which will jeopardize, not the party (what do they care about the party) but their tenure within the party.
 It is not just for such a financial audit to be conducted if George Abela is elected: such financial audit must be conducted now before the leadership contest.  Party delegates and party supporters have a right to know the state of financial affairs of the party in order to be able to come to a just decision.  It stands to reason that if you engage somebody to manage your finances and such person makes a fiasco of your finances, you do not extend his contract but you fire him straight away.  So why not hold such financial audit now so that the delegates will know whom to trust with the administration of the party.
 All the people at Hamrun who are paid from the contributions of the party supporters (il-ftit minghand il-hafna) must first and foremost declare their income from the party before opening their mouth. It is only then that the delegates will conclude whether the words coming from the people in Hamrun are words meant for the good of the party or for the good of their job. The delegates are not stupid but they must be continuously reminded that not all the people at Hamrun have the party at heart: there are people there who are more worried about their future than about the future of the Malta Labour Party.
 We read that the report on what led to another Labour defeat is out soon: I sincerely hope that it will not be kept in the drawer for only the Brutus’ to see. I augur that it will be given to the delegates so that history will not repeat itself.  Even five years ago Labour conducted a similar report but nobody knows its contents and nobody knows to what extent the recommendations have been implemented.
 I am not surprised that Dr Abela’s motion did not pass: first of all if it passed it would have wreaked havoc in Hamrun because there is no updated list of the party members and secondly, this would have raised panic in Hamrun. 
 We all know what the winning ticket is but who are we?  According to the people in Hamrun and to the party delegates, our role is only to cast our vote when they blow the whistle.  All this charade of meetings of the leadership contenders as if they are contesting for a national leadership is purely a waste of time and only meant as a PR exercise as this is the only way of getting media coverage by the party station.  The contenders will do a better job if they stay at Hamrun, get hold of the party finances and not be afraid to tell the delegates and the supporters about the true state of the party.
 It will be the responsibility of the delegates to decide whether to continue in this legacy or to put a fresh start.  But the former option would mean that Labour will never see Castille as I am sure that the Nationalists will have a field-day in the next election campaign, repeating the flaws in the party as mentioned by the leadership contenders and members of the executive committee. Because let us face it, it stands to reason that notwithstanding these flaws, if the same people remain, it means that nothing would have changed and the message sent out there is that what you see is what you get! And who will vote for all this uncertainty?
 There is no doubt in my mind that unless the tower is demolished and built anew, Labour will never stand a chance of winning a general election. The majority of the electorate has by now formed an opinion of the people in the party, an opinion that these people cannot be trusted with the governance of this country. And if the delegates elect the same people at the helm, it means there will be no change in the public perception if not a reaffirmation of how right they are in not trusting Labour.
 Dr Alfred Sant is still the Leader of the Opposition and with no regrets he had the audacity to speak on behalf of the Labour supporters in Parliament by making his personal views the party’s views. This has always been the major fault of Alfred Sant: that of failing to admit that what he thinks is not necessarily good for the party: take the Mintoff issue, the three methods of voting in the EU election campaign, etc, etc. 
 The party administration have a lot to answer for Sant’s speech in Parliament: who approved his speech?  Was it approved in the first place?  Was Sant authorized by the party to give that speech?  We have heard in the media that the party contenders or most of them have failed to comment about Sant’s address to Parliament and this continues to puzzle me and to reaffirm my belief that when it comes to power, the contenders forget all about their electoral manifesto and join the tide for fear of losing their seat of power. Only Marie Louise Coleiro and George Abela were reported to have said that there were parts of his speech which they did not concur with.
 How can than they abide by the no-comment rule when the mess that the party is in today is mostly due to Sant and his administration?  The contenders must be clear in their message: are they going to continue in the legacy of Alfred Sant once they are elected or are they going to have the guts to change what there is to change from such legacy? 
 Or is the leadership contest another fait accompli as we witnessed in 2003?

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