MaltaToday | 13 August 2008

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NEWS | Wednesday, 13 August 2008

‘The leader is supreme,’ says Micallef

“The leader is supreme,” was Labour Party secretary-general Jason Micallef’s response to the impending “earthquake” that is meant to rock the Opposition from within, as promised by MLP leader Joseph Muscat.
Contacted yesterday for his reactions to what is increasingly sounding like an effective downsizing to irrelevance of his own role within the party, Micallef was unfazed at the prospect, which includes the possibility of him being employed as a part-timer.
“I will remain secretary-general,” he said. “I don’t have any comments to make on these proposals at such early stages. I’m just satisfied with the result I got.”
But beyond Micallef’s personal satisfaction at his 370 votes garnered last week, which served to re-elect him to the post, Muscat reiterated on Monday that the time for change has arrived.
“If anything, last week’s elections hastened it,” he wrote in his column on The Times, somehow reinforcing the perception that he was unhappy with Micallef’s re-election although he did nothing to stop it.

Since Micallef’s re-election, Muscat has spoken of personally appointing a chief executive officer for the party, taking up most of the administrative work so far falling under the remit of the secretary general.
The labour leader is also, however, keen on beefing up the role of deputy leader for party affairs, now occupied by Toni Abela, in a move that is seen as effectively usurping the secretary general even of the political input.
Asked about his possible redundancy, Micallef said he respected the leader’s decisions.
“He’s the leader and I respect any decision taken by the leader, as I have always done. He has the prerogative, he’s supreme. He leads the party and has his own manifesto.”
Joseph Muscat is promising to implement changes he pledged during his leadership campaign, which whoever will curtail the traditional role of the secretary-general in Labour – possibly turning it into a part-time position.
The first will be that of a chief executive, reportedly already shortlisted for the post, who will be responsible for the administration and day-to-day business of the party. There will be form of political responsibility attached to the role.
The CEO will be appointed directly by Muscat himself, who wants a trustworthy individual to take control of party management.
The CEO will also undertake financial management of the party, although the party’s financial secretary, who is also responsible for party membership, will not be cut off from this role.
Sources said the chief executive will not be political. “Muscat has said there is no room for prima donnas, this role is totally administrative.”
Deputy leader for party affairs Toni Abela is also expected to take on the number two role on political affairs. While previously it was the secretary-general that was generally considered to take on the mantle of the political spokesperson after the party leader, Muscat wants to ensure there is no overlapping between the two roles.
This alone would already curtail Jason Micallef’s role.
Another post, which will further cut down the secretary-general’s role, will be the appointment of a director of communications, who will be responsible for the party’s political media communications and strategy.
Joseph Muscat has promised “a surprise” with his internal reorganisation, which will culminate with an extraordinary general conference held later this year to approve the changes.
Muscat said the changes will make Labour “the most dynamic organisation in the national political spectrum”.

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MaltaToday News
13 August 2008

Message in a bottle-ban

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