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NEWS | Wednesday, 06 August 2008

‘I won’t work with him’ – Michael Falzon

Labour MP and former deputy leader Michael Falzon has sealed his rupture with the party leadership following the re-election of his sworn nemesis, Jason Micallef, as secretary-general, while fellow MP Evarist Bartolo said it would be suicidal if Micallef did not change his attitude.
Micallef retained his post on Monday despite a damning electoral defeat report, but Falzon was categorical in his answer about his future in the party with the same secretary-general.
“I don’t need to work with Jason Micallef,” Falzon said. “He has his post, I have mine. I exclude working with him directly.”
Falzon added it was up to the party to analyse the consequences of its decisions.
“I never pretended to be bigger than the party,” he said when asked whether Micallef’s re-election was bad news for Labour. “Someone else thought he was, but it wasn’t Michael Falzon.”
Also critical was fellow MP Evarist Bartolo, who together with Falzon was a candidate in the leadership election last June.
“I stand by what I said before this election,” he said, reiterating his wish for a new secretary-general. “Now that the man who got elected is the same one there was before, at least one hopes that he will change his attitude, if there is any hope for change at all.”
Bartolo insisted that the analysis of Labour’s electoral defeat had to happen at all costs.
“The analysis has to be carried out,” he said. “If we do the same as 2003, that is forgetting the reasons why we lost, then we would only be paving the way for another defeat. It would be like ignoring medical advice and keeping the same malady.”
Asked if any objective analysis could be carried out with Micallef in the same post, Bartolo said it was now the leadership’s chance to assert itself.
“I don’t think the delegates read the defeat report, even though they were meant to,” he added. “Now it’s up to the leadership to set out a plan of action. We have to heal the wounds, and certain people have been wounded more than others. The votes clearly show that some 480 delegates did not want Micallef, so he really has to analyse yesterday’s vote in all humility. If he doesn’t, he would really have learnt nothing and it would be suicidal both for him and for the party.”
Another leadership contender, George Abela, said he had nothing to comment about the delegates’ choice. “It’s their decision,” he said.
Asked if he would work with Micallef, Abela just said: “I have good relations with Joseph Muscat.”
Leo Brincat, who was highly critical of Micallef and denounced him for his arrogance prior to Monday’s vote, said he would stick by his promise to respect the delegates’ vote.
“Even though I was critical of Micallef in my writings, I also wrote I would stick to the delegates’ verdict, so I that’s what I’m doing now,” Brincat said.
Brincat had written that Micallef had told him not to bother congratulating him on his re-election after the MP had told him he believed the party needed a new secretary-general.
Asked whether he congratulated him yesterday, Brincat said: “I called nobody – neither the winners, nor the losers.”

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