Give Joseph a chance? You must be joking.

Published: June 12, 2008 at 10:00am

Funny what a lot of misconceptions there are about the so-called honeymoon period. Some people appear to believe that it is mandatory, a 100-day period in which we should lay off new party leaders and prime ministers to ‘give them a chance’. It is at times like this that I wonder in despair at the insular bubble in which so many of my compatriots appear to live. Where on earth do they get these ideas from?

The 100-day period is a piece of psychology. During those first 100 days, it is assumed that the electorate is favourably disposed towards the new incumbent and so more tolerant. After the 100 days are up, the electorate’s tolerance threshold is supposed to fall dramatically. If, on the other hand, the electorate can’t stand the sight and sound of the new incumbent to begin with, then the electorate is free to say what it thinks from day one, and well it should do.

Those 100 days are a self-imposed armistice only for the two warring parties involved, and it’s got nothing to do with goodwill or honeymoons. They do it so as to appear marginally civilised and not come across badly with the electorate. In actual terms, it means nothing, and only the naïve believe that we’re going to have a political love-fest for the next five years, until we come to the general election and Lawrence Gonzi says, “Oh do go ahead, Joseph. It’s your turn to be prime minister now. I’ll just sit here in the shade and take a break. I’m sure you’ll do a lovely job.”

There is going to be as much cooperation and goodwill between Gonzi and Muscat as there is between two women who are after the same man, two kids who are after the same toy and two men who are after the same job. Joseph Muscat wants Lawrence Gonzi’s job and will do all he can to get it. Lawrence Gonzi doesn’t want Joseph Muscat to get his job and will do all he can to stop him. Is that a recipe for cooperation? Well, hardly. Beneath the thin veneer of civilisation and formal good manners, they’re both working out how best to stick the knife in. I wouldn’t expect anything less, because it would mean that they’re political wimps who aren’t up to the task. You don’t cooperate with the person who wants what you’ve got. That would be insane. Instead, you pretend to cooperate.

The newspapers carried a photograph of Muscat and Gonzi sitting side by side on a sofa at the Nationalist Party headquarters. Some people are very excited about this. They think it heralds a new political era. Because Muscat said that he plans to cooperate with the government, instead of behaving like his dog-in-the-manger predecessor, the Polly-Annas in our midst imagine that the prime minister will be giving Muscat one of the spare rooms at the Auberge de Castille and calling him up for advice three times a day. Some people only hear what they want to hear, and see only what they want to see, and so they missed the qualifier in Muscat’s sentence: “as long as the government treats us like an equal partner, because we represent half the electorate.”

In other words, Joseph Muscat wants to share the premiership with Lawrence Gonzi, and is aiming for a kind of government-by-committee made up of representatives of both parties. The man is even sillier than I had thought. If we’re going to have government by committee, why have elections at all? As Gonzi reminded him, the people chose a Nationalist government, not a Labour government nor a coalition. Allowing the opposition to set the agenda or hijack it, under the guise of cooperation, would be an insult to the electorate who made it quite clear that they did not want Labour in government.

The headless chickens over at the Labour Party are thrilled with their new leader, even though his first public acts were to patronise them with a parable about his life, talk down to them as though they are peasants and his intellectual inferiors (something that Sant did all the time), and explain to them the meaning of the Labour anthem’s lyrics. Oh yes, and he referred to his wife uncouthly, while holding a microphone and speaking from a stage to hundreds of people, as ‘lil din’ (this one), instead of ‘my wife, Michelle’. These headless chickens, elves and poodle-fanciers are out in force in cyberspace now, defending their insane choice of party leader, and telling the rest of us that we’re jealous because he’s so smart, young, clever and handsome (yes, really).

Then there’s another category of people, those who say that we should give Muscat a chance because he’s in his honeymoon period. Yes, I know that he sometimes reads like an essay in self-love, but I didn’t know you could marry yourself in a country where a man who’s become a woman has been told that she can’t marry anyone at all because she’s a neither a man nor a woman.

I’d like to ask these people at which point exactly they decided that Joseph Muscat is new. Joseph Muscat is anything but new. His wife Michelle has just given an interview to KullHadd describing how when she met him in 1995, he was already a prominent figure in the Labour Party, a journalist she listened to eagerly on Super One. Then she married her hero. He has beavered away in the Labour Party since 1992. He was one of Super One’s first recruits. For at least 15 years he has been in the public eye, one of the Labour Party’s most visible faces because of his constant exposure on Super One radio, Super One television, the party’s so-called news portal, and in Labour-leaning and Labour-owned newspapers, where he wrote article after article telling us that VAT is bad (and now he’s writing a report about it for the European Commission), that EU membership would mean suicide for Malta, and that we should spoil our vote, vote No or not vote in the membership referendum. And then after the referendum he told us that he had done as Sant did and not voted. As a key figure in the Labour Party’s attack-team, he played a far greater part in attempting to sabotage Malta’s membership of the EU than many Labour politicians. It is thanks to the efforts of those on the other side of the trenches, myself included, that Joseph Muscat is where he is today. He should be crawling about on his hands and knees and grovelling his thanks, because without us he’d still be Charlon Gouder.

Those who wish to pretend to themselves that Joseph Muscat was born on June 6, 2008 are free to drown themselves in a sea of self-delusion. They shouldn’t expect the rest of us to follow them over the cliff-edge like lemmings. Muscat is on the cusp of middle age. People don’t go through major personality shifts or drastic character changes in their mid-30s. I think the psychiatrists would say that this is impossible. By that age, much earlier in fact, you are what you are going to be until the day you die. If you want to give Muscat a chance, at least have the self-respect to frame your opinion in the context of his 16-year track record in the public eye. That way, when he smugly tells Reno Bugeja on Dissett, as he did a couple of nights ago, that he telephoned the president to wish him well, you will remember, as I immediately did, the television footage of him only five years ago, shouting at Fenech Adami, who was his prime minister at the time, like a monti hawker, insulting him, disparaging him, and accusing him of condemning Malta to death with his ‘obsession’ with the EU. It was one of those fabulous vote-haemorrhaging television moments. I can just imagine how thrilled the president was to receive that telephone call, given that he probably views Muscat with as much contempt as I do, and for roughly the same reasons.

If you bothered with his track record, instead of insisting that he’s new and should be given a chance, you would also be able to put into context Muscat’s absurd pronouncements on ethics in the political media. There speaks the man who set up the appalling, who hugs Manwel Cuschieri in public while negotiating for his brother’s seat in parliament, who was the Charlon Gouder of the 2003 election, and who was a Super One ‘journalist’ – the commas are essential – for several years. He is also the very same Sant acolyte who wrote a book about ‘corruption’, published in the Sensiela Kotba Socjalisti, which contained so many hideous lies and slandered so many people that he was sued for libel by those he had written about for no reason other than that his party saw them as enemies. I know because I was one of them. He inserted my name and a large colour picture into a fantastical and complicated piece of fiction that drew in the P2, the Mafia, the Bologna train station bombing, the Kennedy assassination the year before I was born, Roberto Memmo and Chambray, and God knows what else. I sued both him and his party bosses and won a significant sum. The only thing I can say in his favour is that he paid up immediately, while I had to chase Jason for weeks and ended up slapping a garnishee order on all the Labour Party’s bank accounts, only to be told there wasn’t any money in a single one of them. I only got my cheque when I threatened to send the bailiffs for Sant’s desk and computer.

Sorry, but I can’t take Joseph Muscat seriously. That’s because I’m a fairly intelligent 43-year-old woman who knows that 34-year-old men don’t change. What they are is what they will remain. Muscat will only survive the next five years and become prime minister if he can keep up the bluffing with enough people not noticing just how far short of the mark he is.

This article is published in The Malta Independent today.

69 Comments Comment

  1. Caphenni says:

    Hey Daph,

    I would be really interested in seeing your analysis of Gonzi’s 100 days of his new term as Prime Minister. I know you should write what you want to and that no one should tell you who to write about, and you’ve been doing this for as long as I was alive, but I’m not saying it for balance’s sake – I’m just curious about what you think. I miss seeing a fair and critical analysis of PN’s misgivings :D

    I accept that Joseph Muscat is a glorified Charlon Gouder, but isn’t Pierre Portelli the same? And they recently tried to get him on board for Sec Gen of the PN.

    I have very little respect for people who work with partisan media and expect to be taken seriously as journalists. However, I think it is very understandable for someone to act one way when they are employed to do the work of a rookie partyjournalist, and differently when they are elected as party leader and prime minister in-waiting.

    It doesn’t bother me that much that he was Charlon Gouder-ish with EFA when he was a journalist and now he is calling Mr. President to send him his regards. I think it’s just a question of being in very different roles.

    Again, it’s hard for me to picture someone like Charlon Gouder running the country – just as it would seem ridiculous to have someone like Amanda Ciappara doing so – BUT I think it’s fair to say that Muscat has come a long way since his teenage journalism days.

    [Moderator – He wasn’t a teenager back then, that’s the thing. Joseph Muscat was a teenager during the collapse of the Soviet Union, not during the 2003 referendum. Now, if you’re talking about a grown man who behaves like a teenager, that’s something else altogether.]

  2. kenneth Spiteri says:

    WELL SAID ….agree 1000000% …

  3. Peter Muscat says:

    13, 34 and 43 are my favourite numbers in life.Not joking!

    It is surprising Daphne judges herself as ‘fairly intelligent’. At tal-Qroqq I was referred to as the Whiz Kid! I hated it!

    I expected the above article on Sunday! Dear Daphne you failed me by 4 days! The article I judge as ‘hog wash’.

    [Moderator – Why don’t you finish off that glass of whisky and take a long nap?]

  4. Mario Debono says:

    Daphne…We really have to hand it to you. You have JM described to a T. Does Malta deserve such a pinnur at the helm of the MLP? No Sir. We deserved better, instead we have been foisted with…..THIS!

  5. Alex says:

    Oh dear me, DUFFFNE, they are really going to be after you after this great piece, which knows nothing but the truth. I predict an influx of elves remarking how evil you are, after reading this from the INDPENDENT. This is fun, thanks MLP delegates.

  6. Kev says:

    Perhaps Joseph is aiming for some cross between Gvern Nazzjonali and oppozizzjoni konsultattiva

    Joe Grima and others used to hark about a “Gvern Nazzjonali” as a panacea for all our woes.

    Yes, Gvern Nazzjonali with both parties on one same bandwagon. We could then call it KomPartiya, as the Soviets used to call theirs.

  7. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Caphenni, Joseph Muscat was around 30, and not a teenage journalist, when he was on the election trail behaving like Charlon Gouder. People don’t change between 30 and 35. You don’t see anything wrong between Joseph Muscat the Super One reporter shouting at Eddie Fenech Adami the prime minister and then Joseph Muscat the Labour leader calling Fenech Adami the president to wish him well because you might have been unwittingly trapped into the curiously Maltese idea that people are not themselves but the roles they play. And so when we remove one hat, we can put on another one and immediately become a different person. Wrong. If I remove my hat of columnist who has criticised Alfred Sant relentlessly for years, and put on another hat of, say mara tad-dar, I am not going to find any circumstances in which I can call him up for a friendly chat, and of course, he would be right in slamming the phone down. We are who we are, regardless of the roles we fill. Joseph Muscat is still the nasty little man who couldn’t distinguish between the correct EU policy and his master’s hysterically confused one, and you can be sure that the president doesn’t see him any differently to the way he regarded him in 2003.

  8. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    And Caphenni, if you can’t imagine Charlon Gouder leading the Labour Party, then you have a pretty good idea of how I see Joseph Muscat in the leadership role. Joseph Muscat was Charlon Gouder until the day he became an MEP.

  9. Caphenni says:

    @Daphne – I don’t think it is simply a question of role-playing, or some sort of warped Maltesism.

    It is just a question of different jobs requiring different attitudes to certain things. For instance, as a Super One journalist he was paid to be annoying and Charlon Gouder-ish and to be hard on EFA during 2003.

    As an MEP he was paid to participate actively in all thing EP-related – the job was not about discrediting the PN or exposing their inefficiencies, but about working as a Maltese MEP, as part of the MLP and PES.

    Now as the MLP leader he has the duty to unite the party, to appeal to both party hardliners and floating voters, to be an exemplary public figure and statesman like.

    However in all these three roles one does not have to have a complete character transplant or reformation. One just has to emphasize different aspects of one’s character.

    So just as you can write about mara-tad-dar things like cooking and interior decoration in your magazines, while retaining your excellent writing skills and humour, Joseph Muscat may be able to be statesman-like while retaining his journalistic sharpness and persistence.

    For instance (I noticed this on Dissett), Joseph is very quick in his responses and very confident in what he has to say. He also has a great deal of knowledge about the history of both parties and can relate different aspects of history and present togther very quickly. He has an analytical mind as well as the sharpness to use it. There is a bitchy sarcastic tone in some of his answers, but they were always followed up by practical ideas of what has to be done in the future.

    In the way he spoke I could notice his “journalistic” background, or rather his Charlon Gouder-ish-ness, but I could also see a well-formed European political agenda as well as the potential to be statesmanlike. He has flaws. Everyone does, even great leaders do. But it is very simplistic to compare him to Charlon Gouder as if nothing has changed since he was a Super One journalist.

    So in conclusion, it is not a question of changing roles completely, but of emphasizing different aspects of one’s character to fulfil one’s role. There is also the question of the effect a particular job has on your character. His job as MEP may have helped him mature his political ideas and his practicality. There were times when the MEPs of different parties had to work together – something he wouldn’t have had to do as a Super One journalist. These things help to develop a person’s character – even a person who is 30 years old I think.

    Also, I do not see the problem in being friendly with someone you disagree with. The problem with you vis-a-vis Alfred Sant was that you attacked him personally on a regular basis. But say, if I disagree with a lot of what you are writing at the moment and I voice my disagreements and argue with you on an intellectual level, I would still feel comfortable to call you for advice on another issue. As long as arguments do not get unnecessarily personal there is a lot of good that can come out of disagreeing with someone, as you well know :)

  10. kenneth Spiteri says:

    @ Peter Muscat

    Check the 13 in the Illuminati numerology

    Maybe there is a connection with Joseph Muscat :)

  11. Ivan Galea says:


    You are right, there is no way Gonzi will give the chance to Muscat to have a say in the governance of the country.. how can he…him and his party oozing with arrogance!!! And by the way before the election Gonzi used to say…If you want Gonzi to be your Prime Minister vote PN,,if not vote MLP, AD, AN or someone else…..and the result speaks for itself…and though this is yes a legitimate government the majority of people OBEYED his orders…we do not want you was the message!!

  12. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Caphenni, the point is this: Joseph Muscat wasn’t the way he was at Super One because he was paid to be like that, but because he is like that. Who we are is reflected in our choices. Nobody forced him to be a Super One journalist. Nobody forced him to write libellous stories about people. Nobody forced him to propagate deeply mistaken views about Europe. He chose to do it. He is an opportunist of the very worst sort.

  13. cikki says:

    @ Caphenni

    Joseph Muscat and Pierre Portelli have absolutely nothing in common. Whilst Charlon Gouder is a clone of Joseph

    A person might have different roles or jobs but his/her
    character doesn’t change.

    Alfred Sant gave me the creeps. Out of the five would be
    leaders, JM was the only one who really gave (and gives)
    me the creeps. I may not agree with the other four
    but they are all normal and none of them went in for
    any playacting, showing off,etc., and their smiles
    reached their eye

  14. Ix-Xewka says:

    Daphne don’t you think Dr Edward Fenech Adami should never have become President. When he was leader of the PN he was calling MLP supporters names and acting (as expected) very biased towards PN. If you can’t see the difference between Dr Edward Fenech Adami and Eddie Fenech Adami. How do you expect us mortals to see it. When A.S. had his operation LG wished him well, is that so bad. I’m sure that politically he did not wish him well, but humanly he did. I know that you are 100% PN supporter-but I never thought your reasoning was equal to an illiterate die hard supporter! By your reasoning EFA should never have been placed President of Malta – NOT President of Partit Nazzjonalista!

  15. Sybil says:

    Was Gowzef Muscat in charge of kickstarting the website that is said to have cost several thousands to set up?

  16. Ix-Xewka says:

    Two wieghts – two measures? If JM should not be leader of MLP because he was (Like C.G.) a super one journalist. Gordon Pisani should not be Head of communications. On radio 101 he used to be the pn version of Manwel Cushcieri – I’m sure you will deny this – but then MLP would deny that Manwel Cushcieri is what you say he is. J.M’s and C.G’s jobs is to pester ministers and ask them about their work. If the ministers don’t answer it means they have something to hide. It’s not the journalists fault that they act like corrupt ministers. So if a journalist is doing his job we call him names – only if he is asking embarrassing questions to ministers – If he asks the same type of questions to the opposition – then he’s a hero. Noe when Lou Bondi was using the same tactics with AS – everyone said he was reeeally good

    [Moderator – Gordon Pisani is not the leader of the opposition, nor does he aspire to be. And he is not even remotely similar to Manwel Cuschieri or Charlon Gouder.]

  17. Caphenni says:

    How is spelling his name “Gowzef” funny?

    [Moderator – It’s just a kind of spelling that is loaded with social connotations – that happen to be quite funny.]

  18. MPG says:

    No, Moderator, it is not funny! And this blog is getting boring by the minute…

    [Moderator – Then why are you here?]

  19. Anthony says:

    If this Joseph is now trying to convince us that he fell off his 4X4 on the Damascus autostrada just recently he should know that there was only one Apostle of The Gentiles and that by Divine Appointment only. After Martin L King, Gandhi and The Great Leader, if he is now attempting a Missier Malta Nisranija Jr. it would be better for him to continue writing his report on VAT till he retires at 65.

  20. Ian says:

    Oops, sorry for the misprint! I meant “your artilces”. Guess I’m not Very intelligent

  21. DF says:

    Caphenni, Daphne – you’ll just have to agree that Joseph Muscat has been very astute in designing a fast path to glory for himself. Super One was a crucial springboard in terms of creating a public persona and a ‘wiehed minn taghna’ tag. Lots of people clearly admire him for getting so far so fast while others can’t stomach the way he did it. It seems to be subjective. But I do think that journalists should remind their readers of where their heros are coming from – if they’re let off the hook too easily politicians will simply reinvent themselves at will. Superman today. Wonderwoman tomorrow.

  22. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Cikki, please explain to all the men on this blog just why Joseph Muscat repels women. I’ve tried to do so, but you might do it better. Even my gay women friends get the shudders.

  23. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Ix-Xewka: if you were to read my columns at the time Fenech Adami was made president, you will see that I objected strenuously to the appointment. Now apologise.

  24. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Sybil, yes Joseph Muscat started And in true Labour style, it’s all form and no content. The spelling is rubbish, the grammar is lousy, they invent words, and the editor looks like a toby-jug, has the brain of a pea, and can’t handle his cutlery correctly (sorry, but I couldn’t resist that).

  25. AC says:

    Thinking of it, I think he loves the website to bits, he even named one of his daughters after it !

  26. Sybil says:

    Daphne Caruana Galizia Thursday, 12 June 1819hrs
    Sybil, yes Joseph Muscat started And in true Labour style, it’s all form and no content. The spelling is rubbish, the grammar is lousy, they invent words, and the editor looks like a toby-jug, has the brain of a pea, and can’t handle his cutlery correctly (sorry, but I couldn’t resist that).
    Point of information;
    Toby jugs are considered as much sought after collector’s items.

  27. Marku says:

    As an undergraduate student, I had Joe Mifsud as one of my classmates. I think Joe should be the next deputy leader as Joe and Joe would make quite a pair. For one thing, they both love to write books about all kinds of bullshit.

  28. mel says:

    Dear Daphne,
    The PN got only about 1,500 votes more than MLP in the last election. The MLP candidates who were elected are supposed to represent the people who voted them and their ideas. The election is not just about finding a prime minister but also, and more importantly, to elect representatives of the people.
    If Dr. Gonzi refuses to respect the opposition’s opinion on certain matters he is also refusing to respect the opinion of 141,888 Maltese citizens who voted Labour. Frankly I think that such arragonce is undemocratic and I doubt many floaters (which usally determine the result of an election)will vote for undemocratic rulers.
    We do not live under a dictatorship were Dr. Gonzi can do as he pleases, the opposition should be treated as an equal partner because the Maltese citizens of a different opinion should still be treated as Maltese citizens with equal rights.

    [Moderator – Do you know that what you are proposing is called ‘national government’, which was probably last seen in pre-WWII Britain? Either way, the British tradition of parliamentary democracy – upon which our system is based – lays down the opposition’s responsibility to oppose legislation promoted by the government. Democracies depend as heavily on conflict as they do on resolution.]

  29. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Sybil, if you want to collect Kurt Farrugia, go right ahead. He’s just the right size to fit on one of your shelves.

  30. Sybil says:

    Marku Thursday, 12 June 1933hrs
    I think Joe should be the next deputy leader as Joe and Joe would make quite a pair.

    “The Two Gows” as in “The Two Ronnies”?

  31. cikki says:

    @ Daphne

    I’ll try and be as objective as possible and start by admitting that I prefer dark men to ginger ones. Its just a gut feeling but he’s so damned pleased with himself, he smirks and he’s not genuine. Looks aren’t everything so
    if there was a genuine person inside it wouldn’t matter
    but there isn’t so the whole combination is wrong.

  32. Xewka says:

    @ Daphne Did you really object to EFA becoming President- Sorry, I did not know that. PLEASE ACCEPT MY MOST HUMBLE APOLOGIES. I had stopped reading your columns in the late 80’s. Not because of your political inclinations, maybe because of your snobbery. What I meant to say, when JM was interviewing EFA as leader of the PN, he treated him one way now he has to lump it and treat him as the President of Malta with all the respect The President deserves.

  33. Xewka says:

    @Moderator – Gordon Pisani is not the leader of the opposition, nor does he aspire to be. And he is not even remotely similar to Manwel Cuschieri or Charlon Gouder.]Yes that’s the point you only find fault with the leader of the opposition. I knew you would say Gordon Pisani is not like MC. but lets face it you are biased, and as you said yourself its MLP people who have all the faults others’ faults don’t count.

    [Moderator – When did I ever say that?]

  34. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Xewka, you couldn’t possibly have stopped reading my columns in the late 1980s, because I only started writing them in 1990. Like I said earlier, each time you post a comment, I understand why you’re a Labour diehard. You stopped reading my columns before I began writing them, and yet you feel you know enough about what I’ve written to pass judgement.

  35. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Mel, get this: there is a government, and there is an opposition. The opposition is called an opposition because it is opposed to the government, which is why our parliamentary seating is oppositional like Westminster’s and not theatre-style. The government, on the other hand, is called the government because it governs. The interests of those who voted Labour are represented by Labour MPs. Of course, they would have liked to be represented by MPs on the government side, but they drew the short straw and that’s tough, but it’s life.

  36. P Portelli says:

    You worked your guts out to have JM elected leader. By openly eulogising GA your reverse psychology made sure that JM gets elected. You kill the good ones by kindness.

    Now the PN stand a better chance of getter re-elected. But the better chance is still less than 50%. The electorate generally gives a new face a chance especially after having a party staying overlong in power. It is called voters’ fatigue. And whatever you say in this positon JM remains a new face.

    So you remain responsible for the probability of Malta getting a Prime Minister it surely does not deserve while George Abela remains the greatest prime minister Labour never had… thanks to you and the PN you serve.

  37. mel says:

    @ Moderator
    So according to you the the oppositions should oppose anything the government says and the government should do anything it wants without any consultation at all with an opposition which represents 1/2 the maltese people.
    The more I read this blog the more anti PN supporters I become!

    [Moderator – Mel, there was consultation: it’s called a general election. Yes, it is the duty of the opposition to oppose the government, hence the name opposition, and it is the duty of the government to govern, hence the name government.]

  38. Albert Farrugia says:

    @P Portelli
    What do you mean exactly? That the PN should have used its influence to get George Abela elected leader since he has a lesser chance of winning an election? Well, that is EXACTLY what the PN tried to do. The fact that it failed is borne out by the hysterical contributions being typed in here. Let me repeat what I said in other posts. The PN would have felt much more comfortable having George Abela, someone they know well, heading the MLP. Do not believe the spin that it was the other way round.

  39. mel says:

    @ moderator and Daphne
    Your answers just show that you consider MLP voters to be lesser citizens than PN voters. This is the running of a country NOT a football game. According to your view of politics we shouldn’t even have an opposition since it will just oppose arguments but never be heard or respected. According to you the opposition should be there just so that debate programs can exist. I guess its the way old people view politics and you were brought up to view it like that so I guess it’s not your fault. That’s why we need younger people in politics, don’t we?

    [Moderator – Mel, have you ever watched a parliamentary debate on BBC or Sky News? If not, do so at the first possible opportunity. Parliament IS a debate, and the opposition is defined by the very fact that it opposes the government’s arguments – otherwise Joseph Muscat won’t be called the leader of the opposition but the leader of the agreement.]

  40. Xewka says:

    @ Daphne No I stopped reading your columns when you were writing against natural childbirth and such like that was either late 80’s or very early in the 90’s that was when we had our children to us they were everything we wanted. but what you used to write gave me the creeps. In those days you used to write on the Times of Malta. At that time you used to show your dislike(to put it mildly) of the working class and anything I believed in. If you want to believe I am a Labour die hard I don’t give a dam what you believe – I know the truth about myself. Actually at the time I was voting for PN although yes I’m proud to say I was and always will be a socialist at heart, but then PN used to make us believe that they were all for people in need.
    @ Mel you seem to be a very young person. What you write is like a breath a fresh air. The problem with today’s youth is that they are not interested in real politics and they follow their parent’s veiw. Just remember Daphne’s son could not even attend that farce at university without the support of his mother and aunty. That is not the way youths of other countries think – they use their brains. Keep it up don’t say you are anti PN or anti MLP – because that will be the time when you stop tinking with your brains and start believing what the politicians want you to beleive. I hope there are more youths like you in Malta.

  41. me says:

    The opposition’s function is to criticise the betterment/application of the proposals
    that the winning governing party has promised the electors. The only obligation it has is to its electors. On the other hand no one should be happy to find out that the opposition knew a better way to solve a situation and didn’t point it out to the governing party. That is constructive criticism.
    If the governing party does not keep its promises then that is to the advantage of the opposition, if it knows how to exploit the circumstances in a constructive and well prepared manner.

  42. Amanda Mallia says:

    Xewka – I can vouch for the fact that Daphne started writing her newspaper columns in 1990, not that Daphne needs anybody to vouch for her. That year will forever be etched in my memory, though for unrelated reasons. So yes, 1990 it was.

    As for your comment about “the Son of Daphne” being unable to attend the now infamous university debate “without his mother and auntie”, how wrong you are! The debate was open to all and sundry. In fact, had I known about it beforehand, I would have taken leave and gone too, and boy, what a good time I would have had! Rest assured that I would have been booing my heart out at the man who tried to ruin the student days of oh so many people (my sisters’ and my own included). It was so refreshing to see the students reacting in such a way – so openly and without fear of reprisal. Had we done so at their age, we would have been arrested under some obscure pretext, just as Daphne and my husband were (on separate occasions), as were several others. As for my nephew’s reaction? Well, I can assure you that it was a pretty mild one, compared to what he was made to endure that day prior to reacting. My language would have been much more colourful and unrestrained had I been put in the same position, and rightly so.

  43. Xewka says:

    @ Amanda Mallia, so Daphne started writing on Times of Malta 1990 – and I said it was late in the 80’s that is a difference of 2 years, over 20 years ago. I cannot remember what year it was since I did not write anything in my diaries. Daphne was not that important to me. All I remember is the reason why I decided not to read her column that is her hatred towards the lower social classes among other things.

    The problem with the now as you say infamous debate was that university students were not admitted because of lack of space while nationalist supporters like your sister were sitting down comfortably. Anyway booing a person down is not very democratic now is it? It shows that you are not sure that your arguments are better than your opponents, so you boo and never give him a chance to speak.

    I don’t know in what way he tried to ruin your student days. As I said before I’m a socialist at heart and I believe that it was only in the late 70’s (with the introduction of the student workers’ scheme) that working class students could follow a university course. The only way your university days could have been ruined is 1. Either because other students who then had a chance were better qualified than you and took your place or 2. Because you had to mix with the rmixk tfal tal-haddiema.

    I didn’t hear you boo when the PN government last year reduced the students’ stipend. Neither did I hear you boo, when it was made compulsory to get all your A levels at one go to enter University. It wasn’t AS who did that it was the one we used to call “Il-Ministru Kanna”. Since he’s out of the political scene I don’t feel comfortable in mentioning him.

    It wasn’t the labour party who arrested people. Don’t forget under Fenech Adami Alternativa Demokratika members were arrested

    [Moderator – So, I suppose, the Labour Party got more people into higher education by halting courses in the arts and introducing numerus clausus, is that it? Mintoff did what he did because it was his way of burning the books so that history and education starts and ends with him. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to destroy a seat of learning and a source of opposition – for example, by turning it into an utilitarian institution that pumps out enough taxable workers to sustain your expensive state.]

  44. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Xewka: I might have known you’re one of these natural childbirth/breastfeeding/religion freaks. It all squares with your general attitude. Well, I had my children in the late 1980s, too, and it didn’t stop me writing what I did. The difference between you and me is that I don’t think that by giving birth I have personally created a miracle. Thousands (millions?) of human beings are born every day, and you did nothing special – nor did I.

    You got it all wrong about my son (b. 1988 at St Luke’s Hospital by natural childbirth only because the department of health was saving money and so expected women to give birth like animals without painkillers). It wasn’t that he couldn’t go without his mother and aunt, but that his mother and aunt couldn’t go without him, because he told us about the event, offered to take us, and drove us there. At the age of 18, he was living alone in Liverpool, and at the age of 19, he will be living alone in Canada. But that’s what happens when you have a mother like me: you grow up with a mind of your own and…..are able to cook.

  45. amrio says:


    Do you live in Malta, and have you lived here all your life? It doesn’t really seem like it!

    Quote “I believe that it was only in the late 70’s (with the introduction of the student workers’ scheme) that working class students could follow a university course”

    One – stop all this nonsense about tfal tal-haddiema, JM would not love you for that. Two – I was about to go to University in the early 80’s, and your beloved Socialist govt (through the famous 20 points, and through changing the entry level to certain courses) closed the doors literally in my face! It was PN in ’87 that really opened the University doors to everyone; and that includes, if you want to put it that way, the tfal tal-haddiema too.

    Quote: “It wasn’t the labour party who arrested people. Don’t forget under Fenech Adami Alternativa Demokratika members were arrested”

    Are you NUTS? The Labour Party never arrested hundreds of people – it was the corrupt Police Force, under certain Ministers’ orders, who did so! How long have you been reading this blog? A few weeks ago, there were a load of comments related to how the normal man of the street was treated if he/she dared to participate in anything which was remotely anti-MLP.

  46. Amanda Mallia says:

    Xewka – “All I remember … is her hatred towards the lower social classes among other things.”
    That just goes to show how you don’t know Daphne.

    “… booing a person down is not very democratic now is it? It shows that you are not sure that your arguments are better than your opponents, so you boo and never give him a chance to speak.”
    Wrong. I would have booed at him because it would have been my first chance to show him at close quarters exactly what I think of him. Heck! Had I though of it before, I’d have taken my kids there too! They’d have had a whale of a time. They sure as hell enjoyed watching it on TV!

    “I don’t know in what way he tried to ruin your student days. … The only way your university days could have been ruined is 1. Either because other students who then had a chance were better qualified than you and took your place or 2. Because you had to mix with the rmixk tfal tal-haddiema.”
    Wrong again. On both counts. I wouldn’t consider people attending the government 6th form “better qualified” simply because the 6th form they attended was the government one. Plus which government was it that literally locked us out of our schools for two whole months in 1984?

    “I didn’t hear you boo when the PN government last year reduced the students’ stipend.”
    Why should I have done so, and what makes you think I didn’t, anyway?

    “Neither did I hear you boo, when it was made compulsory to get all your A levels at one go to enter University.”
    Well, if you’re not capable of “getting” all your A-levels at one go, then you’re obviously not fit enough for university.

    “It wasn’t the labour party who arrested people.”
    Try telling that to my father, my eldest sister and my husband, all of whom were arrested under false pretexts in the horrendous 1980s. None of them are criminals, but all were victims of those times. It may not have been the Labour government directly that arrested them (obviously), but we all know who what the police force was like in those days, don’t we?

    As I once read somewhere (though I have no idea who said it) – “You can drag a man to university, but you can’t make him think.” It seems that you fit into that category, darling.

  47. hope says:

    Dear Daphne,

    Do you seriously think that people outside take your column full of hatred seriously? I think that you know the answer!

    Why all this hatred? Why don’t you try to be (more) objective – Is it that hard for you? And what about the government?-can you write something about its first 100 days after elected again by us in power? I can tell you that you are not convincing anyone by reading your articles…a lot of people reading them for fun, just a curiosity to know where your hatred can just arrive!

    Give the guy a chance….me as a prospect university student are looking for an alternative …and yes this can be the man, maybe it’s too early, we all know, but give him a chance….ask university students, light nationalists and anybody who wants a serious alternative to this government what they think, and you will soon realise what are the views outside about the guy!

    Remember: Politics is not about hatred!

    [Moderator – You obviously take it very seriously yourself, otherwise why would you be so ticked off?]

  48. cikki says:

    I suggest all the bloggers who accuse Daphne of hating
    people should buy some U.K. newspapers and read the
    “opinions” in them. Any of you with any intelligence will
    then see that Daphne does’t hate anyone, (she might dislike them immensely and who can blame her). Daphne is witty, has an acerbic tongue, gives wonderful descriptions and more
    often than not hits the nail on the head. The word “hate”
    is completely wrong.

  49. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @hope: if the university seriously considers applications from people like you, who are barely literate, then it should consider making more of a fuss about English than it does about Maltese, which is never used for lectures or essays. We already know, thanks to the new deputy leader of the Labour Party, that it is possible to graduate magna cum laude in law without knowing how to write (or even think).

    What do you mean by ‘people outside’? Nies ta’ barra? Nies li mhumiex ta’ gewwa? Nies li harbu mil-gagga?

  50. David Buttigieg says:


    Word of advice, as Daphne pointed out to you English is the university’s official language, and like it or not points are deducted for such blatant mistreatment of English as your letter post surely is.

    Daphne, I know it’s not the point of this blog but I agree that the university should insist on a better standard of English. I honestly know people with A-levels in English with hopless command of it. Also it is scary how ignorant most students are at least in general knowledge and history.

    When I was at uni I was dumbfounded to discover that most students never heard of Hiroshima, Stalin or even D-day. I wouldn’t be surprised if today’s students don’t know who Hitler was.

  51. Fanny from Switzerland says:

    @Cikki: ‘I prefer dark men to ginger ones’. If you are the one and only Cikki then you have just dissed your two brothers or is there a difference between ginger and red-heads??
    @ Daphne: It’s not very easy to keep up with Maltese news when living abroad as I do even though most newspapers are online. Thanks to your blog, which I have followed with great interest since day one, I have learned a great deal not only on what’s happening now but also on certain ‘historical’ points which I wasn’t sure about.

  52. chris says:

    ‘I believe that it was only in the late 70’s (with the introduction of the student workers’ scheme) that working class students could follow a university course.’

    Oh Dear,oh dear. It looks like the salesman promised you a Rolls Royce and then lumped you with a Mini (and boy does it show).
    What your wonderful socialist government gave you was not a University but a badly managed glorified polytechnic.

    If the socialist government really wanted to help the working class to obtain tertiary education, it would have 1. persuaded the working class to stop looking at their children as another source of income as soon as they turn 16 2. Offer student grants through means testing to the children concerned WHO SHOWED PROMISE.(Apologies, i did not mean to shout,the caps replaces underlining for emphasis)

    Instead Mintoff and his cronies destroyed the institution and replaced it with a crap institution instead. The net result is that we lost a host of good lecturers, and more importantly thinkers, and replaced it what i can best describe as a quasi-university. And here’s the best bit, like the second-hand car dealer he was,Mintoff then sold it to the greatunwashed as the real thing.

    Whilst some departments have since recovered, some have not. The arts department is one that comes to mind. which is not surprising as that is whee most thinkers can be found. And don’t think i don’t blame the nationalist for this also. It was convenient for them to carry on letting the rot sink in, after all there are many MPs who make a cushy living out of lecturing at the UOM.

    You think Daphne hates the working classes? You have no idea how much Mintoff hated them even more

  53. cikki says:

    @Fanny from Switzerland
    Yes Fanny its me!!
    There is a huge difference between ginger and red heads,Usually the eyelashes tell you which is which!
    My brothers are a bit faded now but their curls were auburn
    when they were beautiful babies!

  54. Xewka says:

    @Daphne quote: You got it all wrong about my son (b. 1988 at St Luke’s Hospital by natural childbirth only because the department of health was saving money and so expected women to give birth like animals without painkillers) PN government was elected in May 1987 so you gave birth to your son under PN government. Didn’t they have time to buy pain killers?

  55. Amanda Mallia says:

    Xewka – I see you’ve decided to ignore my reply to your comment, whilst nit-picking Daphne’s. Did I hit a sore point, darling?

  56. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @David Buttigieg: I wouldn’t be surprised to know that lots of students have never heard of Hiroshima, D-Day or Stalin. They only know the things they learned at school. School is not where I learned about Hiroshima, D-Day or Stalin. I knew about them because my parents mentioned them, and then because I read widely. It’s the probably the same with you. School fails us all where it counts most, giving an unfair advantage to those with well-educated parents.

  57. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Xewka: my sons were born in 1986, 1987 and 1988. Take your pick.

  58. Corinne Vella says:

    David Buttigieg: People are usually more familiar with events that happen in their lifetime. That makes Hiroshima, D-Day and Stalin ‘ancient history’ but what explains the reply of the university student who said “Min hu Tiananmen?” when asked for comments on the anniversary of the massacre?

    [Moderator – Or the second-year European Studies student whom I overheard saying, ‘Left wing x’jahbat?’]

  59. Amanda Mallia says:

    Corinne / David Buttigieg / Moderator – That’s what you get when people are encouraged from childhood to study “for exams”, and not to read for the simple pleasure of it or to quench their thirst for knowledge – They’ll simply learn what they have to, and instead of seeing exams as a means of assessing what they already know, cram to “get” their qualifications.

    Hopefully my children will not turn out that way, but seeing the way they have always loved books (although one of them is still barely able to read) and since I am not one to encourage “studying for tests/exams”, they will not.

  60. hope says:


    “if the university seriously considers applications from people like you, who are barely literate”

    You are also being offensive!! Shame on you. First of all you must learn to discuss with others. Maybe my English is not up to standard but you are the least person whom can barely talk about this because I bet that you can’t even speak good Maltese, our only national language –and that is a real big shame!

    With the phrase “people outside”, I was refering to floaters, ‘light’ nationalists, ‘light’ labourites …obviously not to the hard cores, blind people!

  61. chris says:

    Re: Hope’s statement

    ‘I bet that you can’t even speak good Maltese, our only national language’

    Oh dear, this is like waiting to see a car crash in slow motion, ghoulish, but eternally fascinating.

    Will Daphne cede to temptation and is there no hope for Hope?

    We wait and see!


  62. David Buttigieg says:

    @Daphne / @Amanda

    You are both quite right actually, I did learn of them from home and not school.

  63. hope says:

    @ Chris

    What did I say wrong? …Kindly explain!


  64. chris says:

    Dear Hope,
    you are either a newbie to this blog or can’t bother to read what was said before you. To accuse Daphne of not knowing Malta’s national language, is a bit like wondering if the Pope is Catholic.
    She would trounce at a game of Maltese Scrabble with her eyes closed, whilst preparing dinner for an entourage of VIPs and preparing a winning billboard campaign which won’t attract libels and win the election.
    If Daph falls into temptation, and take sup your challenge, i’d!

    Luckily for you, she probably won’t. Too easy. Like taking candy from children.

  65. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    @Hope – rest assured that my written Maltese is near perfect and my spoken Maltese is pretty good. Contrary to popular belief, I was raised in a family where the grown-ups spoke nothing but Maltese to each other, and spoke to the children only in (idiomatic) English until they had learned it. After that, it was Maltese.

    The point is this, Hope. Speaking a language isn’t enough. You have to know the grammatical rules and must have an ear for idiom. Once you know one language very well, you tend to be equally fussy about any other language you learn, because you are sensitised to the importance of grammar and syntax. I don’t speak Maltese as a first language, but oddly, I seem to be more familiar with certain words and phrases than many people who do, and I find myself throwing the Maltese-language newspapers aside in disgust at the poor writing, terrible sentence construction and clunky choice of words.

  66. chris says:

    And its 1 – nil to Daphne.
    Give up Hope, give up ( sorry it was too good a pun to miss)

  67. Amanda Mallia says:

    hope – Why is it always (wrongly) assumed by people like you that people with a good command of the English language cannot speak Maltese properly?

  68. hope says:

    @ Amanda mallia

    Because that’s the way it is. I can give you one task to prove myself. Go to our university and if you find 10 people whom speak English as their first language, and can fluently speak Maltese; then you are right but I am 100% sure that you’re not. I can tell you that because I know lots of students like that.

  69. cikki says:

    @ Amanda Mallia

    Sadly I find that alot of young people, whose parents speak
    good English, don’t. There are alot of literal translations
    from Maltese like “higher it” meaning turn the volume up
    or “close the tap”. Maybe it’s because their teachers don’t
    speak fluent English. I’m referring to children who go to
    good private schools.

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