Now we know why Joseph Muscat thinks he can be prime minister

Published: March 27, 2008 at 10:30am

Thank you, Antoine, who posted a link to this article on one of the threads. I’m posting the piece in full over here, because it gives us plenty of insight into why Joseph Muscat thinks he would make an excellent prime minister, why the head honchos at the Labour Party and the GWU agree, and why the Labour Party has spent the last four decades trying to get its act together and failing miserably. Interestingly, the tests were rooted in logic, English grammar and a sense of humour. I found that enthralling because those are the same three keys I used to detect whether a person is truly intelligent or merely an assiduous accumulator of knowledge and a clever book-learner type. This puts lots of MPs in an entirely new light: they think they can be politicians because they don’t recognise their own inadequacies. The one on the elephant springs immediately to mind. And oh gosh, I love the find that “incompetent individuals are less able to recognise competence in others.” How many of us have had this battle with clients who hire us for our skills and then proceed to tell us how to do our job? How many people seethe at their desk while carrying out a task the wrong way instead of the right way because the boss thinks she knows better? Oh well, just console yourselves: the Labour Party has far greater problems with incompetents who don’t realise what a mess they’re in.

Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find

They’re blind to own failings, others’ skills

Erica Goode – New York Times (Archive)

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them. Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent. On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities — more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

“I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at, and I didn’t know it,'” Dunning said. One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence. The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,” wrote Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dunning.

This deficiency in ‘self-monitoring skills’, the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market — and repeatedly lose out — and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy.

In a series of studies, Kruger and Dunning tested their theory of incompetence. They found that subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on tests of logic, English grammar and humor were also the most likely to ‘grossly overestimate’ how well they had performed. In all three tests, subjects’ ratings of their ability were positively linked to their actual scores. But the lowest-ranked participants showed much greater distortions in their self-estimates.

Asked to evaluate their performance on the test of logical reasoning, for example, subjects who scored only in the 12th percentile guessed that they had scored in the 62nd percentile, and deemed their overall skill at logical reasoning to be at the 68th percentile. Similarly, subjects who scored at the 10th percentile on the grammar test ranked themselves at the 67th percentile in the ability to ‘identify grammatically correct standard English’, and estimated their test scores to be at the 61st percentile.

On the humor test, in which participants were asked to rate jokes according to their funniness (subjects’ ratings were matched against those of an ‘expert’ panel of professional comedians), low-scoring subjects were also more apt to have an inflated perception of their skill. But because humor is idiosyncratically defined, the researchers said, the results were less conclusive.

Unlike unskilled counterparts, the most able subjects in the study, Kruger and Dunning found, were likely to underestimate their competence. The researchers attributed this to the fact that, in the absence of information about how others were doing, highly competent subjects assumed that others were performing as well as they were — a phenomenon psychologists term the ‘false consensus effect’.

When high-scoring subjects were asked to ‘grade’ the grammar tests of their peers, however, they quickly revised their evaluations of their own performance. In contrast, the self-assessments of those who scored badly themselves were unaffected by the experience of grading others; some subjects even further inflated their estimates of their own abilities. “Incompetent individuals were less able to recognize competence in others”, the researchers concluded.

In a final experiment, Dunning and Kruger set out to discover if training would help modify the exaggerated self-perceptions of incapable subjects. In fact, a short training session in logical reasoning did improve the ability of low-scoring subjects to assess their performance realistically, they found.

The findings, the psychologists said, support Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that “he who knows best knows how little he knows”. And the research meshes neatly with other work indicating that overconfidence is common; studies have found, for example, that the vast majority of people rate themselves as “above average” on a wide array of abilities — though such an abundance of talent would be impossible in statistical terms. This overestimation, studies indicate, is more likely for tasks that are difficult than for those that are easy.

Such studies are not without critics. Dr. David C. Funder, a psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside, for example, said he suspects that most lay people have only a vague idea of the meaning of “average” in statistical terms. “I’m not sure the average person thinks of `average’ or `percentile’ in quite that literal a sense”, Funder said, “so `above average’ might mean to them `pretty good’, or `OK’, or `doing all right’. And if, in fact, people mean something subjective when they use the word, then it’s really hard to evaluate whether they’re right or wrong, using the statistical criterion.”

But Dunning said his current research and past studies indicated there are many reasons why people would tend to overestimate their competency and not be aware of it. In various situations, feedback is absent, or at least ambiguous; even a humorless joke, for example, is likely to be met with polite laughter. And faced with incompetence, social norms prevent most people from blurting out “You stink!” — truthful though this assessment may be.

147 Comments Comment

  1. Guzeppi Grech says:

    Norman Lowell sentenced; check out the times’ breaking news

  2. Meerkat :) says:

    To quote from Home Alone (1990), yeah very high-brow stuff but you know ‘trid tinzel ghal-livell biex jifhmuk’

    “Kevin, you’re what the French call Les Incompétents”

  3. Meerkat :) says:

    @ Sisi

    that quote is from Macbeth.

  4. Meerkat :) says:

    @ Sisi…

    I mean, your quote not mine :-D

  5. Meerkat :) says:

    @ Sisi and all who are dazzled by my brilliance (tongue firmly embedded in cheek here)

    I’m off

    “To sleep, perchance to dream” (Hamlet to you Sisi :-D

    and before Daphne steps in biex tferraqna…no hard feelings :-)

  6. sisi says:

    forgive me.. you’re right

  7. Dear Daphne,
    You are clearly doing your best to get Joseph Muscat elected. The more you criticise him the more your solidify his voter base. That’s how party politics work. Take as an example the way JPO got elected from two districts even though he probably cost the PN a few thousand floating votes.

    It’s not fair that the media decides who becomes Labour leader. When the PN wanted to sabotage me they did not criticise me. They said I was a better alternative to Alfred Sant.

    How about some criticism for George Abela please?

  8. mf says:

    Socrates : “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”

  9. Avenger says:

    Words of true wisdom from Alfred Mifsud

  10. Romegas says:

    Professor Dominic Fenech has written a very interesting article in today’s l-Orizzont. Though a Professor of History, Professor Fenech does not hide behind his qualifications to speak his mind. It’s a pity he is not interested in the job himself. Professor Fenech became one of Sant’s many personae non gratae in the 1990’s.
    If you go through the article with a fine comb, you will find many references to JM. I believe that Professor Fenech, a no nonsense left winger from the heart of MLP is afraid that choosing what he calls as a ‘status quo horse’ like JM may result in another defeat for the MLP in 2013.

  11. Jose Busuttil (koppi) says:

    I think Ms Daphne you should worry about your Prime Minister Gonzi PN and not who is going to be the next Leader of the MLP. I do not know how come all you good Samaritans worry about us .I think you should worry about all your lies before the Election and now that you won you should tell us what is going to happen with the 2500 permits issue outside the Development area like Mistra Caqnu store at Safi and all the rest.
    So please let us choose who we wont as a Leader u worry how your party will govern for the next five years with all the saints you have in your party. Also how come you worry what the HAMMALI are doing .
    Good BYE

  12. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Alfred – ah but you see, here’s the problem. Nobody who votes Nationalist wants to criticise George Abela because – hey ho – we actually like him and want him to be Labour leader so that we don’t have to swallow kalmanti each time an election approaches (not that I do, but you know what I mean). Lots of Labour supporters make the mistake of thinking that PN voters want the PN to be in power all the time. No, we don’t. We just want some peace and quiet, and that’s why we choose the peace-and-quiet party. Whoever can guarantee peace and quiet is welcome to the government.

    Joe Muscat is just going to be another one of those Labour leaders who increase sales of Valium every five years. I suppose Labour delegates imagine that we criticise him because we secretly think he’s wonderful and we don’t want him to be elected so that Labour will stay in Opposition. In that case, they are even less intelligent than I thought.

    If they had any brains at all, they would see the situation for what it really is. A hardcore 47% or so of the electorate will vote Labour even if the party is led by a singing monkey with one eye. The rest clearly have a strong and marked preference for somebody like Lawrence Gonzi (even the ones who didn’t vote, as you know).

    Also, like Gonzi, Abela is unmockable. Any attempt the Labour Party made to mock Gonzi in this election, especially with those absolutely stupid newspaper adverts, fell completely flat. Why? Because he’s universally liked, even among the enemy camp. Same with George Abela.

    As an expert in mockery, I can tell you that there is no angle about him that can be mocked with success (even if I wanted to, which I don’t). The Poodle and the Peacock, on the other hand, are sitting ducks (more poultry, unfortunately). They have no gravitas at all.

    Something else: JPO was the target of a vicious attack by the alternative prime minister, not the target of mockery by a columnist. People rallied to his side as it looked like the popular cute boy in class being picked on by the ugly bully.

    If the Labour delegates think that Joseph Muscat is going to make the party more attractive to PN voters, then the Labour Party is in even deeper trouble than I thought.

    He looks like a twerp and he is a twerp. It’s sad if Labour delegates are thinking of him in JFK terms.

  13. M. Brincat says:

    I’m a moderate Labourite. I have my opinion on who would best fit the MLP’s Leader’s seat. However, I ask you Daphne … who do you prefer of the ones being mentioned?

    Now … don’t tell me that it’s not you’re not interested in who’s elected, otherwise you would not waste your precious time to write about Joseph Muscat …

  14. Brian*14 says:

    @Alfred Mifsud: Sorry, but there’s nothing to criticise about George Abela. You will get this same answer from the majority of members within the MLP and your average man in the street. It’s clear however that (due to a few hundred delegates) George stands no chance at the moment.

    If only…

  15. Corinne Vella says:

    Jose Busuttil (koppi): The MLP leader will one day be prime minister. That matters to everyone, not just to MLP voters.

  16. M. Brincat says:

    Dear Daphne,

    I don’t think that you’re getting it right this time round. No, sorry. JM is no twerp. I can’t accept you calling him that way.

    I believe that JM, like 2 or 3 other candidates for MLP leader, can win the election. And I will tell you why.

    This election campaign was lost by the MLP for a number of reasons:

    1. Dr. Sant’s demonisation – he was placed in a position in which he could never win another general election in all his life.

    2. The MLP manifesto – which as you well described it, all those mistakes, wrong strategies – like the kuntrumbajsi over the Reception class, computer errors, etc. etc.

    3. The MLP campaign with its fiascos – like the DNA issue, the inability to analyse election polls which spoke clearly of a PN win …

    However … and this is very interesting in my opinion … PN only managed to win this election by a mere 1,500 … and losing the majority. Therefore, with all MLP fiascos … it is blatantly evident that the electorate does not want the par idejn sodi of Dr. Lawrence Gonzi! But the electorate had no one else to choose from. Easy as ABC!

    This, in my most humble and sincere opinion, only means one thing – that the electorate would be ready to vote MLP into government now that the issue Sant is not an issue any more.

    JM, in my opinion, would be as good a leader as GA, MF and MLCP. His performance as MEP was exceptional. No one can doubt that. At the same time, he carries no dead bodies in his baggage. That’s also a positive.

    Age is not an issue. And shouldn’t be made into one.

  17. David Zammit says:

    @Daphne Saying that Abela is unmockable is utter codswallop. ANYONE is mockable. So why do most PNers prefer abela? I would give any one of 2 reasons:
    a) They naturally feel at ease with Abela because after all he was the one who defied the much hated Sant by leaving the party (this would be why the hardcore PN vote like him – not the PN establishment). Its like if you ask any PN hard liner who would you prefer, the answer would always be Lino Spiteri or Gorg Abela
    b) The establishment prefer Abela because he would be more easy to negotiate with and wouldn’t talk about the sleaze in MEPA, the corruption and all that stuff (irrespective of how it effects the voters the establishment don’t like their sins to be exposed). He would be easier for them to work with. On the other hand he would create a fracture in the MLP core whereby most of the people close to Sant would never work with Abela for historic reasons. A divided enemy is easier to fight against.

    Its funny though how the PN never seem to mock Falzon that much either(apart from the obvious stance on his singing skills). The same reasons I mentioned for Abela apply to him.

    @Alfred Mifsud
    Dear Alfred, After reading your interview with Maltatoday last Sunday and your bizarre way of equating privatisation with the social-democratic agenda I had to check again whether I was reading an interview with Austin Gatt or someone from the Labour party.
    And in any case your record in the general election is hardly scintillating.

    I remember a house visit to my parents’ home in Zebbug where you replied to my father’s concern of rising inflation by saying ‘Imma possibli l-gholi tal hajja taffetwakom daqsekk?’

    Of course it ruddy does mr Mifsud we’re not all corporate managers you know! thats why you took our 6 (or was it a 7) in the election and didn’t get elected.

    Another question Mr Mifsud, if after the MLP leadership election mr Abela doesn’t get chosen do you exclude that you will cry wolf and form a new party with Mr Abela, Anna mallia et al?

  18. AB says:

    Dear Mr. Brincat,

    I think that Daphne has made it clear whom she prefers out of the ones being mentioned (i cannot afford to mention them all as it seems that there are quite a handful who are interested in occupying the 3rd Floor of the Glass House).

    Should you spare a few moments and read her answer to A. Mifsud, she even specifies the reason why she picks on Joseph Muscat (aka il-poodle) and not on George Abela.

  19. Sack Jason Micallef says:

    Spot on Daphne

    PN sympathisers DO have an interest in the election for a new MLP leader for precisely those reasons.

    Anyone who thinks the PN will be in government forever is living an illusion and Labour’s day in the sun will surely come.

    Nationalists hope that when that day comes, the country is administered by a capable PM and not a bungler surrounded by a bunch of even bigger bunglers (having come out on top in the leadership contest) who run the country to the ground.

    However, things don’t look good. GA completely ignored, JM acting as he already has the leadership race in the bag, Jaysin hanging on by the skin of his pearly whites and – even more ominous in my book – the return of Manwel Cuschieri on Super One radio, ready to exalt u jincensa the anointed one over the airwaves .

    Deja-vu to the run-up of May 1, 2003 anyone?

  20. SB says:

    Good reasoning M. Brincat.

    I also think that JM should be the one. He is the only candidate that I can associate myself with [probably Daphne will have a lot to say about my personality;-)]. I cannot associate my self with the others. Not even with GA. I see him as a cheap copy of Gonzi. At least JM is something totally different, whether you like it or not.

    P.S. I also think that GA shot himself in d foot when saying that for him the GWU comes prior to the MLP. Maybe he’s ideal to replace Maltova.

  21. David Buttigieg says:

    If I may add to what Daphne said, we or at least I yearn for a valid opposition led by somebody like George Abela.

    I do believe that in a normal democracy a change in government is good for the country every 10 – 15 years, however there has to be a valid alternative. At the the moment we don’t have one, nor will we with J Muscat as leader.

    If Labour were to win with someone like George Abela at the head I wouldn’t be too much more disappointed then if my football team had to lose a game, and I am not crazy about football!

  22. David Buttigieg says:

    David Zammit,

    Do you want Labour in opposition forever because you sound like it.

  23. Philip Micallef says:

    Alfred and yourself are actually agreeing. What he is saying but probably cannot utter (because of his background and beliefs) is that if you really mean it when you say you do not want JM to be leader of MLP, then you should praise him. It works the other way round with MLP delegates. It’s a call for help!

    You see daphne and i share the same feeling. It’s not a matter of whether you side PN or MLP. We all know that a change can be healthy at some point. But for a change to be healthy one must know that even if the party he supports is not elected, the opposition is solid and has the ability to work in the national interest as well. AS was definetly the opposite.

    Now that we agree that it is in the national interest to have GA leading the MLP, and we similarly agree that GA is very difficult to criticise, lets all praise JM. It will have the same effect! We have to do it in the interest of the country!Daphne give us a helping hand.

  24. M. Brincat says:

    AB – sorry to have wasted your time … but I was writing my post while Daphne was moderating hers :p

  25. David Zammit says:

    @David Buttigieg
    Don’t be patronising….after all we all know its a cheap show. The PN media will hound the new MLP from day 1 until 2013 fullstop, however he is.
    Their(and your) only interest is to have PN in government in eternum. Saying that you want a viable government is a joke (comparable to the one where JPO said he didn’t know a discotheque was being built on his land).
    An even if there was the very remote probability of a labour leader liked by yourself, you’d be demonising him 5 seconds after you see the MLP supporters celebrating on TV. You couldn’t hack having the MLP celebrating

    Uhh the PN….its in your heart….its in your soul! :)

    [Moderator – You’re claiming that David Buttigieg is only capable of understanding elections within the paradigm of a football tournament. Aren’t you the one who’s being patronising?]

  26. M. Brincat says:

    What’s the point with JM being in AS’ team? So? I mean …. SO???

    Does that make him a bad guy? Does that make him less appealing? After all he got where he got only because he worked for it – very hard too! His MEP campaign was well thought and reached where it should reach.

    Daphne – can you criticise JM for what JM said or did rather than by whose side he sat? Is it that difficult to do so?

    Your point about JM being AS’ anointed one … so? Wasn’t – isn’t – LG EFA’s anointed one? Didn’t they perform the “Funny Chair Dance” together 4 years ago come next month? Do you consider LG a leader? I don’t! He still won the elections though!

    [Moderator – Spot the paradox: …can you criticise JM for what JM said or did rather than by whose side he sat?]

  27. David Zammit says:

    @Philip micallef
    No dear Mr. Micallef we don’t ‘all agree’ that its in the MLP’s interest to have GA as leader. You took that decision unilaterally.

    I for one don’t think the MLP would be capable of winning with GA as leader. As I said it would create too much friction within the ranks and most MLP hardcore would never bring themselves with someone so close to the PN.

    So PN would certainly win in 2013 with GA as leader.

    Oh wait but that doesn’t count does it? Its not in the least important what MLP sympathisers want – after all they’re only a bunch of irrelevant prolls. They’d vote for anyone the party machinery put forward isn’t that right DCG?

    They don’t come into the equation – who cares about them anyway.

  28. Shannon Andrews says:

    RE: Professor Fenech, a no nonsense left winger from the heart of MLP is afraid that choosing what he calls as a ’status quo horse’ like JM may result in another defeat for the MLP in 2013.

    From his lips to God’s ear!!

  29. Shannon Andrews says:

    Another labour defeat in 2013 would be poetic justice for me who lived the best years of my life under a “quasi” dictatorship; to have my son born and brought up with the PN in government!

  30. M Cutajar says:

    David Zammit – I totally agree with you when you said ‘A divided enemy is easier to fight against.’ Of course, I’m sure that’s the reason that many PN voters want GA as MLP leader. No wonder they don’t utter a single word against him. And I also didn’t like it when he admitted that he puts the GWU before the MLP.

    As to the fact that all those who are saying that a change in Government is healthy in a democratic country, I’m sure they would have still voted for GonziPN even if GA was leader of the MLP. So much for change!!

    [Moderator – Enemies? Fighting? Why are you two looking at all this in such a tribalistic way? We want George Abela because he will eliminate the zero-sum game that comes with every election. Don’t you want the same thing? Remember Tolstoy:

    [The First Balkan War] shows that we still haven’t crawled out on all fours from the barbaric stage of our history. We have learned to wear suspenders, to write clever editorials, and to make chocolate milk, but when we have to decide seriously a question of the coexistence of a few tribes on a rich peninsula of Europe, we are helpless to find a way other than mutual mass slaughter.


  31. David Buttigieg says:

    David Zammit,

    It shows how little you understand. You would do anything to see MLP in power no matter how awful they are. You probably thought the wigged one was a fantastic leader and that the No won the referendum.

    It’s about time you and your ilk took off their blinkers!

  32. Sack Jason Micallef says:

    @ M Brincat

    “Daphne – can you criticise JM for what JM said or did rather than by whose side he sat? Is it that difficult to do so?

    Your point about JM being AS’ anointed one … so? Wasn’t – isn’t – LG EFA’s anointed one? Didn’t they perform the “Funny Chair Dance” together 4 years ago come next month? Do you consider LG a leader? I don’t! He still won the elections though!”

    Big difference… LG did not make a u-turn on a major issue such as EU membership as JM is trying to do now.

    A couple of articles by JM pre-2003 on the Partnership Nirvana and the 7th circle of EU membership hell are quite enlightening and can’t be explained away as an issue for historians to debate.

    The MLP leader needs a clean break from everything that Sant stood for, the obvious reason being his rejection by voters at the polls three times on trot.

    JM is a product of the Sant-era and will suffer from the same lack of credibility on issues such as the EU.

    The EU project WILL remain an issue until a leader not embroiled in the barmy Santian Swiss/Med and partnership policies emerges.

  33. Walter Gatt says:

    I wonder why you have so much respect for George Abela when on Xarabank and Bondiplus he said that for him the GWU is more important than the MLP!

    [Moderator – A statement like George Abela’s should have come from the MLP itself. If a political party truly works to empower workers, then it should promote the idea of a strong and independent union. Have you forgotten what Lech Walesa fought against with Solidarnosc? That’s right, the very situation that you are promoting: the decreased autonomy of trade unions.]

  34. David Zammit says:


    Well lets say that I get the impression that Mr. Butigieg’s, and most of the others who think like him’s underlying desire isn’t for MLP to become a winning team.

    It isn’t just the MLP marmalja who feel so passionately about their party and want it to be successful. Many PNers dont like to be seen as being hard-liners for the simple fact they associate that kind of behaviour with the MLP crowd not the more refined PN crowd.

    But in actual fact they’re as intent on keeping their party in govt. as the MLP are on winning.

    Thats why I find it very very hard to believe that they really want a choice. Intentionally or not the PN and its media will always play the same old conjuring trick with them – even though they will be offered a stack of cards to choose from they will always end up choosing the one the conjurer wants them to choose. The conjurer will come up with any trick to ensure they make the choice he wants them to make….

  35. Philip Micallef says:

    Dear Mr. Zammit,
    one thing is sure. MLP can choose a popular person who they all like (I suggest JDG once we’re at it) but it’s the country who will have it’s say in the end.

    Also, your arguement on ‘friction’ does not hold water. Sorry mate…using it already excludes many people from the base!!! What the heck is the base anyway….is it those people who wear red fil gabra….and jiddefsu wara il-lijder??? Is that the base. Please someone tell Mr. Zammit that many labourites have evolved over the years and might not necessarily associate themselves with the likes of Jason or Toni Abela……so now they are no longer part of the base! Only parrots and idiots make it to Mr. Zammit’s base….HELLO!

  36. David Buttigieg says:

    Yes M Cutajar,

    You are right in one aspect, I would probably still have voted for Gonzi with George Abela as MLP leader. That’s because Gonzi is doing a really great job as PM no matter what you say.

    However with George Abela as Leader of the MLP it would not have been the greatest of deals if they one the election.

    Think about it, even though PN lost votes MLP did not win any!. People preferred not voting to givin their vote to MLP with the likes of the wigged one at the head.

    Are you sure those people would not have voted Labour with George Abela as head? I think not.

  37. Philip Micallef says:

    Dear Mr. Zammit,
    one thing is sure. MLP can choose a popular person who they all like (I suggest JDG once we’re at it) but it’s the country who will have it’s say in the end.

    Also, your argument on ‘friction’ does not hold water. Sorry mate…using it already excludes many people from the base!!! What the heck is the base anyway….is it those people who wear red fil gabra….and jiddefsu wara il-lijder??? Is that the base. Please someone tell Mr. Zammit that many labourites have evolved over the years and might not necessarily associate themselves with the likes of Jason or Toni Abela……so now they are no longer part of the base!

    [Moderator – Joe Debono Grech? You must be joking. As Fausto said at the prospect of him becoming MEP, Santa Liena tidhol ghalina.]

  38. David Friggieri says:

    The problem with Labour over the past 15-20 years is that one got the feeling that the party simply meant nothing at all. When you sat down and thought of Labour all you could think about was Sant, Jason, Falzon, Charlie Mangion and Charlon Gouder. And No to EU membership. What did Labour mean? What did Il-Bidla mean? It looked like it meant a bunch of fellows who simply wanted to substitute their rivals in the hot seat. This is why I call it the party of Total Cynicism.

    If Labour knew what’s good for it, it would consult widely, really widely. It should consult people who have been critical of Labour along the years. They might be surprised that those who criticize them harshly today might actually turn out to be their best allies. But to do this an exercise in humility is required and I fear that humility is considered more of a weakness than a quality in macho Malta.

    Labour must reach out in an honest, humble and transparent way. It can look forward to a bright future if it makes the right decisions now. But if it belives that a simple musical chairs exercise at the top involving the present candidates is going to do the trick, it’s probably in for a very bad surprise.

    Dominic Fenech put it very well when he urged Labour to open its doors and windows wide.

    And take a leaf out of the PN’s book. Get a Father Peter character on board. People with a broad vision make a diffrence in the long run. Even in pragmatic Lilliput.

  39. M. Brincat says:

    Dear “Sack Jason Micallef” …

    Didn’t JM prove himself that he’s as valuable, if not more, to work within the ambits of the EU than any PN MEP? That proves much about 1. his capabilities and 2. his EU stance …

    With regards to him being a product of the Sant era … isn’t that obvious given his age? He was still shaving his first beard when KMB left his seat for AS … but don’t try to bait us into believing that everything Sant touched turned sour. It’s not the case.

    George Abela is a very valid candidate, but luckily for MLP and for the country, he’s not the only valid contender.

  40. David Buttigieg says:

    David Zammit,

    Your biggest problem is that you measure everyone by your own rather short yardstick!

  41. M Cutajar says:

    Aah well, moderator. I’m sure you know what’s meant by ‘enemy’. Even competitors in some sports event see each other as enemies, let alone political parties!
    And yes David Buttigieg, AS was a fantastic leader, and an honest one at that.

    [Moderator – There you go again. Sport, like war and unlike national politics, is a zero-sum game.]

  42. Victor Laiviera says:

    I thought my last post would not see the light of day. Some things never change.

    [Moderator – Victor Laiviera is one of them. Maybe if, in your posts, you stop comparing the people that host you here to bodily secretions, then I will let them through.]

  43. M. Brincat says:

    David Buttigieg …

    You said that “That’s because Gonzi is doing a really great job as PM no matter what you say.”

    I disagree. The state of the economy Dr. EFA left us in was an ugly one, so much that whatever LG did could only make it better …

    [Moderator – The strength of evidence to support a claim must be proportionate to its strangeness. Where is the evidence?]

  44. David Zammit says:

    @David Buttigieg

    I will answer you in the same way that Gonzi answered Sant in the last debate when the latter reffered to Mater dei as as that place in tal Qroqq. Please refer to the man as ‘Alfred Sant’ not ‘the wigged one’. Lets try and be civil although its difficult this being Daphne’s blog and all that.

    Its not a question of me being blinkered – after all I didn’t even mention Sant in my contribution. But the fact remains that YES PNers just want Labour to be in the pits forever and ever so that they avoid the March 8 scare in 5 yrs time.

    Their ultimate intetnion is to have a split in MLP whereby a part of MLP goes with Abela whilst the majority stay with the ‘original’ MLP. They want to create a nemesis whereby they won’t be the only one losing to the smaller parties.

    The writing is on the wall – take a look at all the latest contributions by Anna mallia, Alfred Mifsud and the rest. They are subtley putting forward the view that there should be a split in MLP if GA isn’t chosen as top dog.

  45. Brian*14 says:

    @David Zammit – “So PN would certainly win in 2013 with GA as leader.”

    I would’nt bet on it if I were you. However, if you decide to do so, please let me know. I may even enhance the odds for you.

  46. David Buttigieg says:

    M Cutajar – need I say more?

    You didn’t answer about the referendum?

    Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to

  47. Question says:

    A simple question to MLP:

    Is it ethical that while the race for the leader has just started, the Secretary General, Jason Micallef meet for dinner with one of the contenders at the Ghajn Tuffieha hotel?

    A reply is awaited.

    Thank you.

  48. David Buttigieg says:

    By the way M Cutajar,

    If the wigged one was so good how come he lost 3 elections and a referendum in a row?

  49. David Buttigieg says:

    Also people, 3 cheers for the moderator, I envy his patience keeping up with all the posts!

    Good job!

  50. Vanni says:

    Howdy Vic

    What’s with the body secretions mod mentioned? Still having the runs from the elections? Not too worry, a nice walk around Castille always helps.

  51. Alex says:

    I do not get MLP aplogists, or at least the ones that comment here.

    They do not want us to interfere with them choosing the leader, right?

    Errrmmm, do they realise that if the leader they choose appeals only to the ones that voted labour earlier this month for MLP, they will always stay in opposition.

  52. M. Brincat says:

    Daphne … what evidence would you like produced? Employment rates? GDP per capita? Debt? Name it and I will try my best to bring the figures in this forum :)

    [Moderator – I am not Daphne. Produce whatever it takes to support your claim.]

  53. my name is Leonard but my son calls me Joey says:

    Let’s say the MLP splits and in the next general election the PN elects 31 members and obtains less than 50% of the first count votes, with the other 34 seats going to MLP1 and MLP2. Could be interesting.

  54. M. Brincat says:

    Alex, from the names being currently mentioned as contenders … who do you think that mostly “appeals only to the ones that voted labour earlier this month for MLP”?

  55. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @M. Brincat. You are making the classic Labour Party error of electing a LABOUR PARTY LEADER rather than a PRIME MINISTER. Yes,you’re right – Joseph Muscat might very well be fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, winning the election by default and becoming prime minister by default. And that’s exactly what people are worried about. We don’t care what sort of Labour leader he makes. We care what sort of prime minister he makes. If he is going to stay a Labour leader, full stop, nobody outside the Labour party would care. But Labour leaders are alternative prime ministers, and that’s why everyone has a vested interest and many have an active interest. May I also point out that the Nationalist Party wins because it doesn’t choose PN leaders. It chooses prime ministers. It’s not a fine distinction, but a great one.

  56. Vanni says:

    @ M Cutajar
    You wrote:
    ” AS was a fantastic leader, and an honest one at that”

    Sorry to burst your bubble but he was not a fantastic leader. In fact I would hesitate to call him a leader at all, in the true sense of the word. You see a leader has to inspire peoples’ confidence. His loosing 3 times seems to put a hole in that particular theory. A leader of men has to build bridges, and not emarginate people (GA, Lino Spiteri etc). It is even more serious when the people he cast aside are the very oxygen of the party. They were the moderates, the unblinkered people. Their loss to the MLP cannot be counted in votes only, but more importantly with their vision.
    Re honesty. Yes he was (and is) honest, inasmuch as he is unbribably clean (as opposed to quite a few others on BOTH sides).
    However is he politically honest? Let us take VAT. He promised he would remove it. Yes he did, but only to replace it with something worse. He lost the referendum, but kept on insisting that he still won it, making Maltese politics the laughing stock of Europe.

  57. Victor Laiviera says:

    Nah, I won’t bother – keep right on talking to yourselves.

  58. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @David Zammit: you’ve got it all wrong about why PN voters like George Abela. But then why am I surprised? You support the party that has gets it wrong time and time again. Mintoff? KMB? Sant? The Poodle? What’s the common factor here? They’re not the type to win people’s trust and confidence.

    You can have all the policies under the sun and shout about corruption until you’re blue in the face, but what counts is gaining people’s trust.

    In this last election we had a situation where not even the people who voted Labour trusted Alfred Sant. Lots of them actually preferred Gonzi. How bizarre is that? Ask yourself why. The same thing is going to happen with the Poodle.

    In a head-to-head between Gonzi and Abela, on the other hand, options are open. And that’s what you need. The Labour party is made to pit a Poodle against a Statesman.

  59. M. Brincat says:

    I thus put in front of you the NSO Main Indicators, 2000-2006 …

    Please look at how things were in 2003 and how things improved in 2006 …

    Item 9 – Registered unemployed at the end of the year

    2003 7,819
    2006 7,325 (figures went down further in 2007 …)

    Item 23 – Real GDP – Growth Rates

    2003 -0.3%
    2006 3.2%

    Item 10 – Imports of goods and services

    2003 Lm1,554,800,000
    2006 Lm1,973,601,000

    Item 11 – Exports of goods and services

    2003 Lm1,522,449,000
    2006 Lm1,890,102,000

    Item 19 – Gross Domestic Product at market prices per head

    2003 Lm4,728
    2006 Lm5,319

    [Moderator – That things improved is undisputed. Your claim was that EFA’s bad policies left the country in a terrible mess, and that the situation improved through no effort of Lawrence Gonzi, because the only way was up. So far you have proved the exact opposite.]

  60. Walter Gatt says:

    A respectable person that aspires to be a party leader, cannot, for heaven’s sake, put the interests of the general workers’ union first. And who is promoting the decreased autonomy of trade unions ?! I encourage you to refer to what happened in the media when the GWU was labeled as the ‘privileged union’. I wonder what the GWU would be called with Abela as leader then … Labour’s prostitute?

    [Moderator – No. Becoming party leader is not an ‘aspiration’ because it is not an end in itself. Great statesmen did not become so because they wanted to impress their mothers – they did because they wanted to change their country for the better. You are only proving Daphne’s point that many labour supporters can’t think beyond choosing a labour leader, instead of a national leader.]

  61. Alex says:

    @ M. Brincat

    I would say Anglu Farrugia, he is the one that only die hard MLP supporters find capable. He should be chucked of the party, with his past and his way of seeing things, like many others.

    I think Muscat would have been one of the most capable in attracting new MLP voters, given the options. But since he is being backed by the A.Sant group, people will think that it is the KMB and Mintoff story repeating itself. Please, do not say that Muscat is not being backed by Sant because there are too many proofs.

    I would get someone completly new, but I know that is not possible given the way elder delegates within Maltese parties think. So there is only George Abela left. Why Abela? Because he, like all those who did not vote labour this last decade disagreed and didn’t trust Sant!!

  62. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @David Zammit – at the end of the day, poor judgement is poor judgement, whatever situation in life it happens to be applied to. You had the poor judgement to believe that Sant would make a good prime minister; you had the poor judgement to believe that Malta would be better off outside the European Union; you had the poor judgement to try and make Sant prime minister again in this election; you have the poor judgement to believe that Muscat will make a good leader and a better prime minister; and you have the poor judgement to believe that Labour will lose in 2013 with Abela as leader.

    On the other hand, my track record in political judgement has been fairly spot on (and it is my own judgement, because I wasn’t raised in a family of Nationalists). So when I tell you that with Abela at the helm you stand a whopping great chance of winning the election in 2013, and with Muscat it will be an uphill battle all the way as it was with Sant, please believe me.

    I am perfectly capable of helping the Labour Party win the next election, but of course, they’re not about to ask. On the contrary, they take my free helpful hints as reverse psychology. Unbelievable.

  63. me says:

    Can I humbly ask M.Brincat to give us the numbers of the gainfully employed ?

  64. Vanni says:

    I think that the MLP have a big choice ahead of them.

    It is a fact that the leaders of a party make a massive difference. Let us forget the theory that AS lost the election, but accept that Gonzi won it. Therefore Gonzi managed to “impress” (used very loosely) more people than Sant did. Now using the same yardstick, in the next election, does anybody here think that any airhead has a chance?
    MLP need a somebody who inspires conviction (not with the diehards, their loyalty would make them accept anybody, and we all know it). The new boy will have to not only have a plastic smile, but to have sugu. Someone who you, without reservation, know that he could be Mr. Right, not for the MLP, but for the floaters. And the Floaters are the ones MLP want to convince.
    If you want shallow, than just get the plastic boy (no, I am not refering to Muscat). If you want a true leader, have a good look around, a very hard look gents.
    Good luck to you, I do suspect you are going to need it.

  65. M. Brincat says:

    Daphne – i disagree. Totally. In 5 years’ time, it will not be ONLY a question of Gonzi vs the New MLP leader … but a number of issues as well, such as PN’s performance during these 5 years, the MLP’s performance, and the electoral manifestos.

    So, the next election will not only depend on who’s at the helm of the Labour Party, unlike what you’re trying to say (although certain names would make defeat for the MLP certain).

  66. europarl says:

    M. Brincat, you wrote on JM: “His performance as MEP was exceptional. No one can doubt that.”

    If you’re still around I sincerely would like to know: By what measure has his performance been exceptional? Give us one or two examples and ruhna tkun infejqa.

  67. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Victor Laiviera, the point we’re making here is that YOU are the ones talking to yourselves and refusing to listen.

  68. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Don’t be fatuous, M. Brincat. The statistics you need to look at the ones for May 1987 and for October 1998.

  69. M. Brincat says:

    Dear moderator. Please tell me … how did I prove the exact opposite?

    If the Finanzi, in 2003, were really Fis-Sod … as we saw on that election’s billboards … how come that same tune was sung during this election campaign as well?

    Yes, truly, Election 2003 was not contested on an electoral manifesto, but only on 1 issue – EU membership.

    All the efforts of that Legislation (1998-2003) was to inculcate “the good effects of full EU membership” to the electorate, whilst many of the indicators slided back …

    But that was the strategy that helped PN to win 2 consecutive elections! So it worked miracles.

  70. Walter Gatt says:

    The MLP is in a situation, which can be compared to the parable of the lost sheep. With George Abela, the MLP would have found one lost sheep, but contrary to the parable, the others would not be very glad but will be gone!

  71. David Zammit says:


    And you fail to acknowledge (not understand because I’m sure you do) that the MLP leader is also first and foremost a point of reference to the MLP hardcore. I can understand the fact that MLP supporters would be beyond any consideration from most of the dark blue posters in this forum, but yes they do count also and their preference should weigh on the overall selection.
    The train of thought whereby you are assuming that that they would vote for any tom, dick or harry thrown at them by Super 1 shows how little you understand how people’s perceptions work.
    They may not cross over the fence and vote PN, but just as PN supporters did when in their masses they refused to vote for Gonzi’s safe hands, they will do the same if a political maverick like Abela becomes leader.
    In simple terms he may gain a few hundred votes (from floaters – dark blue voters would never vote mlp) but he may lose thousands of other votes if he is perceived by the MLP core vote as splitting the party.

    In any case how can you describe Abela as a statesman (or a prospective one) when he actually pointed out that the GWU ranks higher than MLP in his books?

    Anyone remember how Sant was vilified when he said something on the lines of the GWU being an esteemed partner of the MLP. And the PN apologists find nothing wrong with GA saying that the GWU is more important to him?? Putting it mildy thats a gross contradiction by the PN groupies.

    And what about the fact that he was part of the triumvirate that pushed forward the ‘Switzerland in the Mediterranean’ idea? Anyone has any quotes from him about that? Or any videos on youtube?

    And any news excerpts about him saying that he was in favour of removing VAT?

    So JM is being criticised for having been in favour of the Partnership and then doing a U turn and becoming an MEP while its acceptable for GA to say that he was against the EU in 1996 and then being part of meusec just 6 yrs later?

    Remember everyone that GA never said he was against VAT and the EU in 1998. He just didnt want to go for an early election. But he was in favour of all Sant’s policies including the exceedingly high electricity tariffs so much so that he wanted MLP to continue in the same direction in 1998 !! In fact remember he was Sant’s advisor at Castille.

    I’m sure Daphne recalls the press conference the day after Sant became PM where as a journalist she asked him what GA’s role was since he was the MLP deputy leader. I remeber that press conf well….

    All this shows that the core PNers don’t really want GA per se, they just want the MLP politically in disarray….

  72. David Zammit says:

    And a question to all bloggers over here, factually what in GA’s track record shows that he would be an exceptional PM? Is it that he defied AS, the source of all evil? Is it that he was in meusec so he must be a good European (although in the 1996-98 era he was in favour of the Switzerland in the Mediterranean pie in the sky). or is it that with his help the much abhorred GWU managed to lose a few hundred members..
    What else makes him such a stupendous choice for all of Malta….factually from his track record?

    [Moderator – What do you make of this?]

  73. europarl says:

    David Zammit, you write:

    “So JM is being criticised for having been in favour of the Partnership and then doing a U turn and becoming an MEP”

    The U-turn is NOT in becoming an MEP. The U-turn is turning from anti-Membership to europhile, missing an important middle-of-the-road stance: accepting we are members yet remaining critical of the emergence of this new EU (no one in Malta seems to give a hoot about this NEW EU and no one seems to really know much, either. But that’s the result of islanders’ provincialism).

    This is the error many of you make: not all MEPs need to be europhile. It’s not all black and white!

    So, someone who is anti-membership may become a withdrawalist after joining, or he may opt for the middle option rather than doing a full monty.

  74. Moggy says:

    I think that the “core PNers”, as you call them, David, actually want Joseph Muscat. It’s the best way to guarantee yet another electoral victory for PN in 2013. And we all know that.

    Hardcore MLP followers will always vote MLP, no matter what. We can see this from the way even the harshest Mintuffjani changed allegiances the moment AS had his little skirmish with Mintoff way back in 1998. It was now advantageous for them to back AS, and that is exactly what they did, without a second thought. MLP hardcore voters do whatever it takes for their party to win.

    It is the floaters/ peripheral PN voters who the party (MLP) must pander to if they are to win the election in 2013.

  75. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @OK – I’m going to spell it out brutally here. To win the election, the Labour Party must have a leader with whom middle class people (and I don’t mean those who have a middle class lifestyle, but really middle-class people, born of middle class parents and of middle class grandparents) feel comfortable. This kind of person does not feel comfortable with somebody I can best describe – I told you I was going to be brutally honest – as somebody from the lower social orders who went to university and wears a suit.

    As for the really tal-pepe people, this is more so – you can rule them out altogether if you’re going to have a leader like that. Joseph Muscat is just not acceptable to people like this, and if Labour wants to win without struggling and looking in office dustbins for photocopied bits of contracts at every election, then it has to understand the very different culture and thinking of middle class people who haven’t become middle class by going to university, getting a good job, and putting on the Middle Class Outfit.

    People from the lower social orders, and let’s not pretend there aren’t any, are comfortable with a middle class party leader and a middle class prime minister. That’s why they’ve flocked in droves behind the Nationalist Party over the last few decades, and are flocking even faster now (aside from the fact that the PN is the real workers’ party and far more progressive than Labour when it comes to the economy and job creation).

    People from a middle class background are not comfortable with a prime minister from the lower social orders (or one who behaves as though he is when he isn’t, like KMB). This discomfort continues to apply no matter how many degrees the leader in question accumulates or how fancy the suits he wears. They can still see through him and they don’t like it.

    This fact may get the Labour Party’s back up, but my favourite saying is that needs must when the devil drives. It may be an unpalatable fact, but it has to be swallowed and dealt with because it can’t be changed. If I tell you that people from my background are unable to relate to people like Joseph Muscat but able to relate to people like George Abela, you had better believe it.

    I said I was going to spell it out, so here goes: what we are talking about here is the mistrust of one social class for another. Middle class people only feel safe with other middle class people. Therefore they will only tolerate or perhaps even vote for the working-class party if it is led by a non-working class person. The Labour Party makes the mistake of thinking that because it is a working class party it must have a working class leader, and that the way to attract people like me is to dress up the working class leader in suits and university degrees.

    In the UK, after decades of failure the Labour Party stuck the extremely tal-pepe Tony Blair at the top and – bingo! All the smartest people tripped over themselves to begin voting Labour. The thing is this: with increasing affluence, the working class is shrinking, so working class parties have to go and sell themselves outside the box – to people like me. Yet when people like me explain why we don’t feel comfortable with the party, the party doesn’t listen. Apparently, it doesn’t want any customers in our circles. It’s so comfortable for votes that it doesn’t need us.

    The Labour delegates are unable to understand how Joseph Muscat is perceived by people like myself, because they see him as smart, presentable, li jaf jaghmilha man-nies, etc etc. We see him as somebody coming from a completely alien culture, so that he might as well be Greek for all that we are ever going to trust or understand each other. We may both be Maltese, but that’s about where it starts and ends.

    George Abela, on the other hand, is not perceived as a working-class person, and that is one important reason why we like him. I don’t know his social background and I don’t care about it. All I can tell you is how he comes across. There is no fatuous posturing and no chippiness.

    Snobbery? Oh, no – far from it. Middle class people believe that working class people are always out to do them in. It’s a matter of survival. We think that the working class and its representatives are out to get us, and we won’t trust them no matter how many nice suits they wear and how many university degrees they decorate themselves with. Unfortunately, the long tradition of Mintoff, KMB and to a certain extent Sant has proved this theory correct.

  76. joseph says:

    I am of the opinion that Labour has lost it’s soul and only a “Laburist bi tradizzjonijiet Maltin” can give it back. The man is the present Deputy Leader Dr.Michael Falzon.

  77. matthew says:

    If the Labour Party wants to win the next elections then it doesn`t need to carry out much market research. The market research has, unwittingly, been done for it – there was a poll on The Times website and George Abela overwhelmingly came out as the preferred candidate.

    I would have thought that a poll on The Times would be the perfect, possibly the only place to gauge the leanings of possible floating voters. Probably, let`s face it, a better indication than a l-orrizont poll.

    I think it is warped logic to suggest that there is a Nationalist conspiracy afoot to choose the next Labour leader. The conspiracy would only work if every single Nationalist voter was in on it. A conspiracy among one half of the Maltese population unbeknownst to the other half, one suspects, would be quite diffcult.

    If the next leader of the Malta Labour Party is the one most palatable to the average reader of The Times then that is the one who is most likely to be the next Maltese Prime Minister.

    The Times, as mediocre, dire and dour as it is as it is, can at least be trusted as a gauge of the floating voter, particularly of a Nationalist persuasion. It is there right in front of their faces – if you choose George Abela then you will be in government in 4 years and some months.

    This is all, of course, aside from questions of personal reservations about particular candidates. Though we know that from the overwhelming approval ratings for defeated party leaders in Malta, such reservations, though they exist, are irrelevant. With some notable exceptions, political parties misconstrue electoral defeats. Instead of reflecting, they go into an automatic self-defence mode and often seem to learn no lessons at all.

    So basically, the Labour Party has two choices – either it can choose one of the most qualified, one of the most experienced and easily the most electable leader or it can indulge it`s paranoic persecution mania and elect someone they know the Nationalist are going to hate.

    Or in other words, cut off their faces to spite their noses or return to government.

    I think it will probably be a close one.

  78. Philip Micallef says:

    I am a labourite. I come from a redder than red family. I have always voted for whatever line the party has towed, even when I did not agree to it. The epitone was in 2003 and the EU accession. I still feel guilty for having done that. I promised myself never, ever to repeat that mistake again. This time round, i voted Gonzi. I did not do so because i wanted PN in government. Frankly i could not stand seeing Austin Gatt on the screen the minute PN declared victory, knowing how corrupt a number of people within the PN have become. I even cried when i learned that PN won, knowing that labour had to go through all this simply because they chose the wrong person for the job. However Gonzi was inspirational and delivered. AS was totally the opposite. Am i insane? Am i now to be considered a nationalist? No i am not. I know on which side of the fence i lie. The pity is that labour seems like it just hasn’t had enough of a lesson. Once more it keeps committing the same mistakes, now with JM. People like Mr. Zammit will still doubt my authenticity. They will forever argue i am a nationalist. In reality the only thing they are succeeding in doing is to turn me evermore into an individual without a political identity.

    Let me make this clear. JM is a very valid individual and might actually win the election just the same. What comes after is my worry. He can contibute a lot to the party. However he is young, he needs to put aside his ambition which often made him seem an opportunistic figure. GA is capable of delivering quicker. At the end of the day, there might still be a time for JM later on, when has matured and is better polished. People like GA would win me over immediately. The question is….Does labour want to win by mere default (and a huge struggle)or does it want to make one of the bbiggest wins in Malta’s political history? The key is in the hands of the delegates…..I remain the subject!

  79. Juliet Lanfranco says:

    So in plain simple words: you opt for meritocracy. That is: people born from a social class, don’t have a right to become middle or upper class!

    Why on earth do you instill such ideas? And then again, you are supposedly a journalist: gathering and understanding everyone’s ideas.

    Guess you opt for a harsh bias.

    [Moderator – Social-climbing is not a human right.]

  80. cikki says:

    Why isn’t anyone talking about Varist?

  81. David Zammit says:


    Ok thanks for giving us your opinion so clearly….and I’m sure so sincerely.

    But I cannot for the life of me accept the reasoning that the the great majority of the middle class mistrust someone like JM because he comes around as being from a lower class.

    The only reason why GA is not perceived as such is that he’s been used as a trump card by PN for many years against AS.

    AS for example can hardly be perceived as being from the lower classes (although lets say his unlectability was due to the fact that he was demonised for years – and I won’t point any fingers here).

    In the end of the day I think it isnt just the leader that is labled as being unacceptable to certain parts of our electorate but the MLP as a whole – as an organisation.

    I cannot on principle however identify it as being a class issue. I would tend to say that its more of a family alegiance thing than a social class issue.

    I think that if the new mlp leader reached out to the middle and upper echelons of the social classes, as you refer to them and did this successfully and with tact I believe the MLP can contest 2013 successfully.

    But I cannot accept the fact that any MLP leader from a working family background is not electable by the wide majority of the electorate because he is who he is.

    [Moderator – Take it from another middles class person: Alfred Sant is definitely not middle class. Even his accent is completely put on, and I cringe every time he injects an English word into his Maltese. He was married to a woman from a middle class family, and that’s as far as it goes.]

  82. Juliet Lanfranco says:

    Then is authoritarian policy a right?

    [Moderator – Neither – policies are policies. What are you referring to?]

  83. Philip Micallef says:

    @cikki : Its because communism is a dieing(will die with fidel anyway) crime.

  84. Vanni says:

    It all boils down to trust. Middle class (I hate that term, but unfortunately have to use it), will only trust somebody from their class, or higher.

    A man in a boiler suit will not swing the middle class vote. A man who acts as if he belongs in a boiler suit, but is dressed in a suit, will be evenly less well received, as he gets labelled as a fake.

    A new leader will have to inspire every class. He will have to be the best, coolest thing since sliced bread to ALL. He will be the one that ALL classes will believe in. A bravu tal mama won’t swing it.

    Now to get personal. Look at Joe Muscat giving a speech (any) to a Maltese audience. Ready?
    Now try and find a speech by George Abela. Ready?
    OK who came across as polished? Who came across as if he is treating you with the courtesy you deserve? Who preached to you?
    Answer truthfully, and there you have your answer of who should be the next leader.

  85. SB says:

    I am under the impression that if one had to count all the people forming part of the working class and those of the-working-class-who-adopted-a-middle-class-lifestyle altogether, they would outweigh the ‘pure’ middle and upper class citizens.

    However, I stand to be corrected.

    [Moderator – Is there such a thing as a Maltese upper class? We have no real nobility (fields the size of my bedroom don’t make you a landed gent) and no Guggenheims to speak of.]

  86. amrio says:

    @ Daphne


    Congrats. You couldn’t have spelt it out more clearly. I had hinted this stark reality some two days ago in one of my contributions, but obviously, I’m not journalist or writer, and you have explained it quite eruditely.

  87. Juliet Lanfranco says:

    If one argues that social climbing isn’t a human right, then in itself it becomes an authoritarian concern.

    [Moderator – Let’s play a game. I am an authoritarian government. How can I hinder your supposed right to social-climbing? Go on, think of a single way in which I can prevent behaviour that isn’t already protected by law or recognition as a human right.]

  88. Philip Micallef says:

    david the following line in your contibution reflects the only issue in which we really diverge.
    “The only reason why GA is not perceived as such is that he’s been used as a trump card by PN for many years against AS.”

    GA is not trusted simply because he was the antagonist of AS. It’s because he was right over and over again. Also, lets pretend your explanation is right and mine is totally wrong (it might well be the case). Things are what they are. Reality is what it is. This is the context. If the perception out there is that GA is better, we have to accept that perception is reality. No organisation which fails to meet its targets for 25 years, remains in operation (accept the Drydocks maybe, and i don’t want to go there). They fold up and die. Labour cannot take any risks any further. GA minimizes the risks more then JM. We have to listen to the electorate. I shall follow your contributions, but will not contribute further today to allow others the space to do so.

  89. Vanni says:

    @ David Zammit
    You wrote:
    “In the end of the day I think it isnt just the leader that is labled as being unacceptable to certain parts of our electorate but the MLP as a whole – as an organisation.”
    Ok, let’s be honest, I think that you have identified a masssive problem there. But if you choose a bridge builder, you have made a small step.
    Choosing Anglu Farrugia, would definately be a step backwards.
    I don’t really care who MLP choose, TBH. Anybody who I can believe in will do me fine. Unfortunately the choice is limited, and I am not being nasty here. As someone once said, a president has to look and act presidential. And Joe Muscat does not, sorry.

  90. Meerkat :) says:

    @ Vanni

    unless by presidential you mean GWB ;-)

  91. David Friggieri says:

    I think that Daphne has spelt it out rather well here. But she leaves something out and it’s crucial: many, many ‘decent middle class people’ voted for Sant along the years and for KMB before him. Teachers, university professors, businessmen what have you. I even know several ‘tal-pepe’ types who voted Labour.

    I think the crux lies elsewhere. It’s taken a long time but Malta has finally got a sizeable (5-10%) chunk of the population, which doesn’t think of itself as ‘working class’, ‘tal-pepe’, PN or MLP. Calling them middle class doesn’t fully do them justice either for they hail from all strata of society but have one thing in common: an inquisitive, critical mind. These are people who might look at a Daphne article and go ‘she’s spot on here’, then look at another one and think ‘God, I don’t like her attitude at all’. They might listen to a Joe Muscat speech and cringe but check out his work in the EP and say ‘not bad at all, mate’.

    On balance, the MLP has simply been more off-putting to these people than the PN. For a number of reasons. Attitude is one. Insulting people’s intelligence on a regular basis is another.

  92. Vanni says:

    [Moderator – Is there such a thing as a Maltese upper class? We have no real nobility (fields the size of my bedroom don’t make you a landed gent) and no Guggenheims to speak of.]

    The nobility is still around, despite the best efforts by a certain government quite some time ago to do away with it.

  93. Juliet Lanfranco says:

    And what’s your right of being an authoritarian government?

    Where you born to form part of that authoritarian government?

    You formed authority (once being a government) then you made authoritarian power a human right, then I and every single person forming part of society have a right to social climbing.

    [Moderator – I hope for your own sake that you are either being very sarcastic or are of school age. I am not trying defend authoritarianism. I am trying to show that social climbing is not a human right because it cannot be hindered systematically, in the same way that thinking is not a human right for the same reason. Freedom of association doesn’t come into it either, because social classes don’t have systematic rituals and are not organisations with a treasurer and a list of members. Look up reification in a dictionary of sociology, or failing that, Wikipedia.]

  94. Blog Reader says:

    Such fine sense of humour is commendable.

    I am wondering if Daphne could start a TV satire on the subject. Striscia La Notizia – maltese style.

  95. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @ M. Brincat: it’s always a matter of policies and manifestos and performance, and not just a matter of who is at the helm, but it’s taken the Labour Party a long time to discover that. The conditions which you describe as applying to the 2013 election also applied to this one, and what was the result?

    You know, if I were on a losing ticket, I’d look at the winners and see what they were doing right. The mistake the Labour Party is making is to think that it has to provide a different product to win. No, it doesn’t. It has to provide EXACTLY the same product that the Nationalist Party is providing, just changing the means (people) by which it is delivered. Why? Because that’s what people like. Even Labour supporters like it, and the only reason they didn’t vote for it is because it wasn’t being served up by Alfred Sant. Sure, you could tweak a little bit here and there, but the moment you start trying to change things, you’re a dead duck.

    I am astonished, really. Labour hasn’t won an electoral majority since 1976 – except for that win-by-fraud-about-VAT in 1996. By 2013, Alfred Sant’s brief flirtation with power will have been the only electoral majority that Labour won in 37 years. 37 years! And still you insist on seeing things your way.

  96. David Zammit says:


    Good luck trying to find a speach by GA – there aren’t any, he’s only pushed forward by the fact that he’s anti Sant.

    At the end of the day GA’s claim that the GWU is more important than MLP will go down whoppingly well with what daphne calls the ‘upper classes’ I’m sure.

    And before you start looking at JM’s speaches…..take a look at gonzi’s pre-1998 speaches….they’re lamer than lameness itself.

    Lets face it Gonzi was polished to give a good performance and good public speaches by the PN’s inner organisation and by their accolytes. In effect even his early performances as PM are at best mediocre until he got the hang of it. (and rather well to be sincere)

    At least JM has 4 yrs experiences in the EU parliament. What does GA have? Where has GA been in the last 10 yrs for pete’s sake? has he given any contribution to this nation or to MLP? has he been of service to anyone (but the PN who use him as a trump card)

    In any case although it is debatable whether JM is the right choice at his age, and whether Michael Falzon is the right lion to bring forward the change I can only say one thing about them – they may not have agreed entirely with Sant’s decisions (yes I’m sure JM was not constantly the poodle on the leesh and may also have had his disagreements) but at least they were both loyal to MLP and to the delegates along the years.

    Yes that goes especially to Falzon who stayed with the team despite his disagreements in 98 on the election. He may have the political accumen of a boiled potato but he was man enough to accept the delegates’ decision.

    The same cannot be said for our dear GA – the political maverick whizzed away into obscurity as soon as he saw that he was not in agreement with the delegate’s choices. He even had the cheek to stay mum when his name was constantly being used by the PN in the 2003 campaign to attack MLP. Now there’s a man without principals and without any loyalty.

    At least I would have expected him to state that although he did not agree with MLP’s stance at least he would remain loyal to the party he had ambitions of leading.

    So what if it comes to a situation where GA is leader and a decision of his is overruled b the party delegates? Will he scurry away into obscurity and bring the govt down…again…

  97. Corinne Vella says:

    Walter Gatt: That tells you what sort of flock you’re talking about. They don’t know a good deal when they see one. If the flock persists in its ‘gvern ghall-Laburisti biss’ vision, then it’s a total turn off to everyone else. Getting into government by default is neither an admirable aim, nor an achievement to be proud of.

  98. Meerkat :) says:

    @ Blog Reader

    And who would you suggest for Veline?

    I suggest…

    The Tomb Raider
    La Barocca

    One brunette and one blonde…

  99. Juliet Lanfranco says:

    Did you have to check what reification means on wikipedia? I know what it all means.

    Then Google Lemann’s ideas for you own good and see whether a human is born with merit of scale to measure.

    [Moderator – Again: social classes are not a right because they are not real. If I invent the Purple Fluffy Dinosaur social class, and I say, in a very authoritarian manner, “You are not allowed to become a member of the Purple Fluffy Dinosaur social class,” am I trampling upon any of your rights?]

  100. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @ M. Brincat: “But that was the strategy that helped PN to win 2 consecutive elections! So it worked miracles.”

    How mistaken you are. What helped the Nationalist Party win the election in 2003 was the fact that more people wanted to join the EU than didn’t, and you have your block-headed Irrevocably Resigned leader bic-certifikat ta’ Harvard to thank for that. The Nationalists might not have won if pro-EU George Abela was at the helm.

    What helped the Nationalists win this month was the fact that the same Irrevocably Resigned leader was still there casting his dark shadow over the country like Darth Vader. That, and the fact that people on both sides of the political divide really admire Lawrence Gonzi, and trust him. And again, you have your fantastic Irrevocably Resigned leader to thank for that.

  101. SB says:

    @Mod: Ok, there may not be a Maltese upper class but I still believe that the number of working class and the working-class-turned-middle-class people outweigh the number of “really middle-class people, born of middle class parents and of middle class grandparents”

    Once Prof Guido de Marco was speaking on his childhood on TV. He said that his father was a gardener (surely that’s a working class person) and that they weren’t really well-off. However, nowadays the deMarcos are regarded as one of the ‘high’ class families. Surely not a case of “really middle-class people, born of middle class parents and of middle class grandparents”

    [Moderator – They are ‘high class’ on their own pretensions. Most of their offspring from the last generation are more comfortable with people who live around the Diju Balli than anyone else.]

  102. Corinne Vella says:

    David Zammit: “All this” shows nothing of the sort. Contrary to your deeply held belief, several people distinguish between party and government. George Abela might not be your personal dream come true, but so far he’s the MLP’s best hope. Winning over the party ‘hard core’ is part of the challenge of leadership. Remind yourself that winning over the party delegates is only the first step to running the country properly. It is not an end in itself.

  103. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Walter Gatt – so you think there were no factions and rivalries in the PN leadership contest four years ago? Did the PN split asunder?

  104. amrio says:

    I have spent the last 3/4 of an hour reading patiently thru all the posts here. To be frank, yesterday I got the feeling that this blog was going down the drain, with all the girly talk! But this day has brought with it new contributors and a quite healthy discussion. Prosit to all!

    Now, I have skimmed through a whooping 90 contributions, and I’m getting the impression that the general feeling is that if MLP chooses wisely, it will win the next election by default.

    Except there’s a minute detail: how will PN fare during the next 5 years?

    GonziPN is promising quite a mouthful, and I voted PN based both on past experience and on electoral promises (and also, I must admit, due to the wigged one leading the other side).

    What is being promised is a very tall order:

    1) An overhaul in MEPA/perceived corruption issues 1st and foremost
    2) Success of SmartCity and other work projects.
    3) The wise usage of the Euro855 mill.
    4) Initialisation and partial completion of the 2015 vision.
    5) A surplus by 2010.

    … and others I currently forget.

    A tall order indeed, but I think that last 4 years were proof enough that what Gonzi says, Gonzi does.

    If, in 5 years time, most if not all of the above become realities, do you honestly believe that MLP will win by default?

    More likely, a PN win by a wider margin…

    I await your 39 lashes…

  105. Amanda Mallia says:

    Vanni – Have you forgotten the “aristocracy of the (dockyard?) workers”, as they were once referred to by KMB?

  106. Amanda Mallia says:

    Blog Reader – You said “Such fine sense of humour is commendable”.

    Pity that it is oh so lacking in oh so many here!

  107. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @David Zammit – you’re not a very good strategist are you? By definition, the Labour hard core is always going to be there. That’s why it’s called the hard core. They’re the last people you need to take into consideration. They’re so hard core they even voted Labour in 1981, 1987 and 1992, when the country was doing great and KMB was still at the head of the party. They actually wanted him back as prime minister. So obviously, anything will do for them, even the one-eyed monkey I mentioned earlier.

    It’s the others you need to be worried about, the ones who are not hardcore and who will leave if you put that twerp in the leadership.

  108. John Schembri says:

    @ Daphne :
    Do you have any predictions for the MLP May first demonstration( Battle of the Flowers)?
    I can imagine Joe Muscat & Jason Micallef accompanied by Tony Zarb and Gejtu Mercieca meeting Alfred Sant in Strada Rjali , followed George Abela & Michael Falzon surrounded with the Qormi port workers
    That is going to be real battle.

  109. Amanda Mallia says:

    Juliet Lanfranco – Min liema grotta hrigtx?

  110. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @ David Zammit: you want to know what makes George Abela such a good choice. It’s because he’s normal, rational, reasonable and intelligent. He is his own man and has strong and obvious leadership qualities. He proved he is a leader and not a follower (read my column today in which I discuss leaders and followers) by leaving the Labour Party in 1998, and by having the guts to follow through with his pro-EU beliefs, participating in MEUSAC unlike Alfred Sant. Muscat, on the other hand, is just a pathetic follower, one of life’s tag-alongs.

  111. Juliet Lanfranco says:

    Thus no one has a right for any sort of human right?

    That’s Authoritarian. Can I say it is? Yes I can!

    I guess you are in need to learn a good deal; especially sociology.

  112. john says:

    Writing in L-Orizzont days before the Referendum, Joseph Muscat compared a NO vote to turning away from the edge of the precipice: “Ikun hemm min jghidlek li issa li wasalna sa hawn lanqas haqq tieqaf. Bhallikieku jekk tasal f’tarf ta’ rdum ma taghmilx pass lura biex ma taqax ghal isfel!”
    After an 11-year campaign against the EU as a Labour journalist, after voting NO, and after voting against membership (ie Labour) in the 2003 general election, Joseph Muscat has the effrontery to pose as a pro-EU politician.
    Labour never changes!

  113. Meerkat :) says:

    @ amrio

    What’s wrong with the girly talk? Don’t you know that BEHIND each successful man there’s a very surprised woman? :-D

  114. Amanda Mallia says:

    SB – Janitor, not gardener. St Joseph’s School, Valletta, in case you are wondering.

  115. Vanni says:

    @ SB
    One may be born in the pits of the deepest ghetto, and have the panache and grace of a prince.
    Conversely, one may be born with all the silverware of the land in his mouth, but he will remain a boor.

    Again, there is a Maltese Upper Class.
    Check this out:

    And finally, I think that most would prefer to be associated with a class higher than the one they presently are members. Once they make it to that particular class, they tend to do everything in their power to cut all ties with their class of origin. Thus there aren’t really higher class people, as people are constantly trying to move up. A more accurate term would be new middle class.

    Yes most people are snobs.

  116. Amanda Mallia says:

    [Moderator – “… Even his accent is completely put on, and I cringe every time he injects an English word into his Maltese. He was married to a woman from a middle class family, and that’s as far as it goes.]

    And the English words he injects into his Maltese are usually ones for which there is a proper Maltese equivalent, and not an archaic (or vulgar?) word like “mghaqqad” (in the place of “siggu”), a word I once heard being used by someone under his influence.

  117. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @ Juliet Lanfranco. You misunderstand me. I never said you have to be born middle class. What I said was this: people who were born middle class do not have the same mentality as those who became middle class by taking on the lifestyle and the income. All our lives, we retain essentially the mentality of the background we were born into, no matter how much money or ‘lifestyle’ we acquire. Hence, those who were born working-class and through their own hard work acquire a middle-class lifestyle retain a working-class culture and mentality. Their children will be different.

  118. Vanni says:

    @ amrio
    “To be frank, yesterday I got the feeling that this blog was going down the drain, with all the girly talk! ”
    Agree 100%, especially as they didn’t consider a page for us fellas. Sexist girls :P

    @ Amanda
    “Vanni – Have you forgotten the “aristocracy of the (dockyard?) workers”, as they were once referred to by KMB?”
    I was tempted to say that they were replaced by those when I originally wrote that, but have my good boy hat on. Vic isn’t around, you see :)

  119. Corinne Vella says:

    Europarl / Kevin Ellul Bonnici: I knew it was too good to be true. There I was thinking you’re about to make some sort of sense and within a couple of lines you lapse into your usual patronising self with all that talk of provincialism, islanders and how all of us here know nothing of the secret things and mysterious ways that you are privy to.

    Since you’ve appointed yourself superhero on our behalf, you had better learn to behave like a real one.

    You can start here:

    then get onto a steep learning curve here:

    and then polish your outreach skills with:

    which is not to be confused with:

    Meanwhile, you need to avoid distraction by those secret things and mysterious ways. Here’s something that’ll keep you focussed:

  120. Corinne Vella says:

    Europarl / Kevin Ellul Bonnici: You could also take a different tack. Instead of swooping in here, chucking around a few patronising comments and then swooping out before anyone can say “captain underpants”, you could try to start a real debate here on those matters of which provincials know so little and you know so much.

  121. kenneth Spiteri says:

    @ amario…..agreeee perfectly…..

  122. David Buttigieg says:

    That is actually a private club with no recognition – but anyway not the place to discuss that.

    Also whoever thinks the wigged one is anything but low class is living in cloud 9

    I agree 100% with Daphne that unless labour choose someone that can be related to they have no chance in hell of attracting most middle class voters

  123. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @SB – you’re right, but here’s the thing: half of their number vote PN and have no interest in changing. The PN also has the ‘old’ middle classes. And that’s why Labour is in a fix.

  124. amrio says:


    Don’t you start.. again! If a woman stands behind me she will be quite surprised… and amused – I’ve been told I have quite a hairy backside!!!!!!

  125. P Portelli says:

    Unbelievable how people still have any doubt why Labour lost the election.

    At the same the very same people gave Labour a 52% majority in local elections they also gave it a 49% minority in national elections. People are not crazy so there must be a reason. It is obviously Alfred Sant. People wanted Labour but did not want AS as Prime Minsiter – as simple as that.

    How can anyone condemn George Abela, Alfred Mifsud, Lino Spiteri et al for leaving rather than staying and be part of the disfatta? These people should be lauded for trying to avoid the disaster. They showed their loyalty by leaving. Those who stayed on quietly criticisng Sant in corridor talk but eulogising him in public showed their disloyalty and don’t deserve even a 2nd look for leadership.

    It seems some people in Labour pushing Joe Muscat’s nomination have got so used to being in Opposition that they have become quite comfortable there. Is there any doubt which way floating voters will vote if they have to choose between Gonzi and Muscat? If the choice is between Gonzi and George Abela than floating voters wishing to see someone knew at the helm will consider the switch as bearing little or no risk as both man are cut from the same cloth. With George Abela Labour will win next election even if Gonzi works miracles in his second term.

    But it seems the people at Hamrun are bent to vote for whoever DCG critices!!

  126. Amanda Mallia says:

    Europarl / Kevin Ellul Bonici – I’ve already told you once, but since you may have overlooked my comment, here it is again:

    Give up – You’re no match for Corinne!

  127. Albert Farrugia says:

    In which “class” would you put a Bank Manager, whose wife also has a job, with 2 children going to a Chruch Private school, two cars in the family, a terraced house on which he is paying mortgage, with telephone, cable and the rest, who, with an average total salary of about 3,000 euros, can simply get by?

  128. Amanda Mallia says:

    amrio – We could do without private details

  129. Corinne Vella says:

    Victor Laiviera’s not interested in the discussion here about the MLP leadership. Maybe that’s because he’s busy elsewhere discussing the appointment of PN secretary general. He’s got some weird sense of priority setting. No wonder he’s a fan of Alfred Sant.

  130. Keili says:

    @Amanda Mallia – not St Joseph School – Lyceum Hamrun – and a very decent man he was too, who won the respect of all the pupils there.

  131. Pierre Portelli says:

    Daph, Someone is signing P Portelli, but its not me. If that name is authentic than I’m going to have to do like Peppi and change my name! In the meantime, I checked the hate-blog you’ve exposed yesterday and was shocked at the investment in time and research put into it. It must be costing a little fortune to run. This only tells me that some people from the Labour camp have developed from street tugs to sophisticated blog-terrorists. What motivation would someone have to devote so much energy against one writer? It’s very worrying. Any comments?


  132. PR says:

    Daphne, does it make sense to be so classist in today’s day and age by which I mean using class background as a strong yardstick to judge people? You’re excellent at reading people – haven’t you ever met so called tal-pepe people who are superficial, vulgar, ignorant, intolerant and narrow-minded? Likewise haven’t you ever met a nouveau riche or a lower middle class person who is cultured, intelligent, has good tastes – they might loose points on table manners but their conversations will be far more interesting. If you put black shoes and white socks on GA and discovered that his upbringing fits your pigeon-hole of ‘working-class background’ – would your views of him change? A prime minister needs to be wise, trustworthy, intelligent and practical among other qualities. She or he needs to possess these qualities to a very high degree to perform the role of a PM. These are qualities which are not influenced by class – you are born with them. As to the important values in life eg being genuine and honest we are imbibed with these values by our parents and schooling – irrespective of one’s class background or neighbourhood you can still reach adulthood possessing such values with the right kind of nurturing. Being born into this world and wanting to be of a better income bracket as your parents and move up the class ladder (if such a ladder exists) is something commendable. Leading a life with no ambition in which case the family wealth will be squandered and feeling superior to others simply by virtue of the fact that you were born and raised within a middle-class group is something I despise – look around you among the tal-pepe in your age group and a few years older and you’ll see so many such cases. It is not prevalent in people my age and the age of your kids which can be explained by the fact that more people have moved up in education and this I agree with you is thanks to succesive PN governments.

  133. europarl says:

    Corinne, you flatter me more than the flatterer behind the DCG Insultometer. Thank you for the reading list. I will take it as a gift from you – there, the beginnings…

    As to debating the emergence of the new EU, I wouldn’t even bother. There are people who preach to the converted, and others who plead before the inconvertible. I’m not one of any of these.

  134. Meerkat :) says:

    @ amrio

    You do take umbrage quickly…I will keep schtum were you are concerned but then again maybe not ;-)

  135. Corinne Vella says:

    Europarl / Kevin Ellul Bonici: It’s the only subject that appears to interest you, yet you won’t discuss it here because everyone’s “inconvertible”, as though we were just so many piles of euros rather than Maltese liri. What, precisely, are you doing here if:

    1) everyone is of inferior intellect;

    2) you are not interested in talking about the only subject that interests you;

    3) nobody here is interested in it anyway (your view, not mine)?

  136. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Albert Farrugia – would a Labour government increase your bank manager’s salary, or lower the cost of raising a family and buying a house? Hardly. It’s called real life, sir – face up to it. Things cost money. Raising a family costs money. Buying a house costs money. It was the same for our parents. It will be the same for our children. It’s the same all over the world. At least your bank manager isn’t about to have his house repossessed like so many people in the USA.

  137. amrio says:

    @ Meerkat

    Please don’t! I don’t take any umbrage at all – you keep me entertained! Please note that all my replies to you are sent with a big grin on my face!

  138. Anthony Bugeja says:

    Like Philip Micallef I come from a very labour family and am ashamed to say I even voted Labour in 1987 and 1998. 1996 I did too but this was justified as I wanted to give “New Labour” a try and the presence of Gorg Abela in the trident was a reassurance. However in 2003 I was determined not to let any nostalgia come into the equation. Since then the complete loss of credibilty in AS as a leader made the choice of preferring Gonzi as PM very obviuos. Any leader MLP chooses will be better than AS apart maybe from Anglu Farrugia. However it would be so much easier for us ex-Labourites who have been moved to the middle of the fence to rush back if Gorg Abela is elected. He has that aura about him that makes one trust him – something that of course Gonzi has too. MLP delegates may distrust Gorg Abela because he left MLP when AS lost his way – but this and the fact that he showed his ability to work with the government for the good of the country makes him the best choice. He seems to have no chance but I hope that someone influential in the MLP makes a great speech on the day and swings the pendulum.

  139. Meerkat :) says:

    @ amrio

    Ditto ;-)

  140. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @PR – read my words again; they are not a judgement about class because I am not interested in that and I agree with you on this matter. They are a simplified explanation of what drives people and how they think, and why it is important for the Labour Party to have a middle-class leader, because a working-class leader is never going to swing it. This is not a value judgement, but an accurate observation. The Nationalist Party hasn’t had working class leaders not because it is a ‘middle class party’ but because it understands that middle class leaders rope in working class supporters and middle class supporters, but working class leaders rope in only other working class people. I’m not going into the reasons why over here: this is not the place for a lengthy sociological or anthropological explanation. But it’s a fact. The minute people begin ‘going up in the world’ they no longer want to be associated with a working class party.

    The pressure for the Labour Party to start leaning more heavily towards the middle classes is not coming from outside, but from within. People who were raised in Labour families, but who have acquired the trappings of the middle classes, want to stay Labour but don’t want to be associated with that kind of working class mentality. They are in a quandary.

    The Labour Party can’t shake off the mental shackles of ‘iz-zghir kontra l-kbir’. While it has been fighting losing battles in the name of The Worker, the Nationalist Party has gone off and spent the last 20 years bettering the worker’s lot. It’s thanks to the Nationalist government that the children of Mintoff’s haddiema are now solidly middle class, with nice jobs, nice houses, nice clothes and nice holidays. Labour’s Robin Hood approach to taxation and punishing is-sinjuri never quite swung it.

    I am a strong believer in achievement through merit. That’s why I support the Nationalist Party, which builds its policies on precisely this. I am just pointing out that the Labour Party is not the same way. Its message is consistently defeatist and negative and rife with paranoia. Examine its policies, its stances and the words of its most prominent exponents, and you will see what I mean.

    White socks and table manners: this is where I don’t agree with you. These details are extremely telling to me – not about social background but about intelligence. They’re actually a pretty good way of sorting out the intelligent wheat from the far less intelligent chaff. The sharpest people (and I don’t meant ‘batty professor intelligent’) are acute observers. They will immediately pick up the clues of acceptable dress and proper table manners, and change their own unacceptable ones accordingly. A less intelligent person, on the other hand, will fail to realise that he or she is doing anything wrong, and worse still, might even think that all forms of behaviour at table are acceptable, and likewise brown shoes with a dark suit.

    I never fail to be astonished, when at one of the many lunches/dinners etc that I have to go to, how many people don’t know how to use a knife and fork. My immediate judgement about them is that they aren’t sharp enough to realise that they are doing anything wrong, or why it might be in their interest to learn how to use cutlery properly. It’s a good indicator of a person’s IQ. As they say, the devil is all in the detail.

  141. Luke says:

    During my years at secondary school -at the time I was existing in an incubated ‘middle-class’ vacuum – I thought that only people ‘like us’ ought to lead or were capable of leading. Later on, as I started to pop my head out of that vacuum, my opinion started to change slightly.

    I now know a number of people who come from a different background to myself, and yet are extremely capable. Although we probably wouldn’t become best friends, I do feel comfortable with them.

    They might not be of middle-class parents or grandparents, but in Daphne’s words they are nonetheless ’normal, rational, reasonable and intelligent’. These are the middle, middle-class people -they have a middle-class mindset but are not of middle-class background.

    I think it is unlikely that the MLP will ever elect a middle-class person per se as their leader (in fact, I think it is pretty unlikely that the PN would do so any time soon).

    However, I think most people are comfortable with a middle, middle-class person who is ’normal, rational, reasonable and intelligent’ – and who doesn’t have the ‘zghir kontra l-kbir’ mentality (or the ‘int injorant ghax titkellem bl-ingliz u ahna maltin’ attitude).

    At this point in time, I think that is the sort of person Malta is ready to accept as leader of their country.

  142. freethinker says:

    DCG Re: “Hence, those who were born working-class and through their own hard work acquire a middle-class lifestyle retain a working-class culture and mentality. Their children will be different” and similar comments. It seems to me there are too many generalizations and too many sweeping statements in these remarks. I would think it would be better if statements are qualified by the word “some”. I do not know of a single definition of “middle class” and the middle class in one country like England may have a mentality and the middle class in another country may have another mentality. The mentality of a neo-middle class member and that of another may also differ. Humans are quite diverse in their reactions and here it is being assumed that individuals of a certain class all have the same attitudes, views, behaviour, social mores and what have you. Thankfully, human beings are not made in series like mass-produced goods. There are working class persons who are well-behaved, decent and know the intricacies of etiquette – they do not all wear brown shoes with dark suits and gold bracelets on their wrists and speak with an accent. To me some of the arguments being presented here smack of pseudo-science.

    Without going into the merits of the Labour leader selection, I think this argument on the so-called working and middle classes is going nowhere. In my experience, mentalities and attitudes are more the result of the quality of formal education and personal culture acquired by individuals plus the experience acquired through interpersonal relations than a matter of class of origin. Some of the ideas being expressed here are reminiscent of the immutable caste system existing in India whereby people are born in a social class and can never get out of it because that’s what was ordained by the gods. According to some ideas expressed previously, achievers from the “lower orders” (to use an obnoxious phrase used in earlier posts) have to resign themselves to retaining all the badges of their original class no matter what they achieve in terms of education, financial assets and experience. This is a biased approach which seems quite shallow to me and it serves no purpose other than that of fostering class rivalry, not to say hatred. This is not what our country needs. I will not be surprised if I’m told that I’ve misunderstood the arguments. Some appear to think that the claim of infallibilty is not a prerogative of the pope alone.

  143. Amanda Mallia says:

    Keili – I know. I’ve heard, too. My intention was not to mock, but to clarify.

  144. I see, from today’s TOM that Dr Licari has bounced back in fine fettle after the intital trauma he must have surely have suffered at the thumping his beloved MLP had.
    He’s back, thank you, spewing his spleen out with spiteful innuendos!

  145. Meerkat :) says:

    @ Phaedra Giuliani

    The Learned Doctorrrrr is jostling for a position of favour since being a Santjan like The Poodle, he knows where the juicy bones are at. Besides, the learned Doctor was one of JM’s endorsers for MEP elections.

    By making the ageist jibe that “I think that the new MLP leader should be young (a Methuselah of about 60 and leading till 75 is much too old)” doesn’t realise that Dr Licari is not only insulting The Gonz but also another good friend of his, Varist, who’s not exactly a spring chicken himself.

    Incidentally, speaking of Varist, here’s a lovely nugget of information…Apparently it’s not just the Poodle who is a great admirer of other people’s work.

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