Sharon, Kevin and the Socialists

Published: February 7, 2009 at 4:14pm

Kevin Ellul Bonici, who is married to Sharon and who is mentioned in this article, had something to say about this in a comment beneath my previous post (The Wit and Wisdom of Louise Vella). Please keep posting your comments, but they won’t be uploaded until tomorrow afternoon as I will be travelling.

The Times, Saturday, 7 February

Labour MEP candidate raises eyebrows in Brussels
Ivan Camilleri, Brussels

The candidature of self-confessed Eurosceptic Sharon Ellul Bonici on Labour’s ticket for June’s MEP elections is raising eyebrows in Brussels, particularly in the Socialist camp. Sources said Ms Ellul Bonici’s candidacy for the Party of European Socialists (PES) group in the EP was “not at all welcomed” by senior members of the group’s presidency, a message that has already been communicated to the Labour Party in Hamrun. “We are very surprised that Ms Ellul Bonici, who until a few weeks ago was working with the Eurosceptics in the EP, found herself on Labour’s list of candidates. We can’t understand how the party accepted her nomination in the first place,” a senior PES official said.

Officially, the PES did not react to questions sent by The Times on this issue. Asked whether Ms Ellul Bonici’s controversial candidacy was raised with Labour, the PES’s chief spokesman Armin Machmer preferred not to comment. Ms Ellul Bonici’s last employer, the Eurosceptic Independence/Demo- cracy group, which represents the most extreme anti-EU MEPs, is trying to distance itself from her decision, saying she was only employed on contract and had stopped her services a few weeks ago.

Group spokesman Gawain Towler said his group used to employ the services of Ms Ellul Bonici as a political consultant, mainly on political campaigns. The group employs Ms Ellul Bonici’s husband as part of its administration. Her decision comes in the wake of one of her latest campaigns, which she organised for the Eurosceptics against the Lisbon Treaty in Strasbourg.

Ms Ellul Bonici confirmed she had resigned as soon as she was confirmed as a PL candidate, although she added that she had some pending work she was concluding. When contacted, she said she was unaware that her decision to contest on the Labour ticket was unwelcome in Brussels. “The last time I met the PES Group’s president, Martin Schultz, at the PES congress in Madrid, he said he was looking forward to working with me.”

It seems Ms Ellul Bonici’s candidature is also being criticised by some Labour delegates, especially those in the third district. Before the last general election, these delegates had officially written to the party’s vigilance board to ensure Ms Ellul Bonici was not allowed to contest.

The same delegates complain that allowing Ms Ellul Bonici to contest as an MEP candidate would be sending the wrong message to the electorate, particularly in the light of Labour’s new pro-EU stance.
“Joseph Muscat thinks he still needs to use Ms Ellul Bonici to get the votes of Labourites who are still against the EU,” said a party official, who did not wish to be named.

Ms Ellul Bonici was the founder of the NO2EU campaign before Malta’s EU referendum and has resided in Brussels for the past five years. Apart from a short stint as a parliamentary assistant to Labour MEP John Attard Montalto, she has always worked for the Eurosceptic group. Asked whether she still considers herself to be a Eurosceptic, Ms Ellul Bonici said the word has different meanings to different people. “If you meant to ask whether I still view the EU with a critical eye, then yes, I still do, especially when we are treated differently from other countries,” she said.

Ms Ellul Bonici declined to say whether, if unelected, she would return to her consultancy job with the Eurosceptics in Brussels. “My focus is to be elected to work for the interests of the Maltese,” she said.

20 Comments Comment

  1. Jack says:

    “Ms Ellul Bonici’s last employer, the Eurosceptic Independence/Demo- cracy group, which represents the most extreme anti-EU MEPs, is trying to distance itself from her decision, saying she was only employed on contract and had stopped her services a few weeks ago.”

    Enough said.

  2. I’m with Kevin on this one. First it came as a mild surprise to hear that much of his comment was edited out. You’d almost think the comments on the online version of the paper were unmoderated considering that it allows so many comments which, apart from being dumb and badly written, would, in all likelihood, be found to be illegal if the matter were ever taken to court.

    Second, while I do not share the Ellul-Bonicis’ habit of thinking that terms have more complicated meanings than is obvious, so what if there are Eurosceptics in the PES? Anyone remember Patricia MacKenna? She was invited over by CNI as part of their campaign against membership. And she was a Green MEP. Hers was not a unique case: the England/Wales and Scandinavian Greens are Eurosceptic.

    And what about the EPP-ED? The UK’s Conservative Party has plans to walk out, team with the Czech Civic Democrats and set up a party rivalling the EPP on the centre-right but being more Eurosceptic.

    True things are probably different with the PES. Berlusconi is a man who is often wrong but when he’s right, he’s very right: I have no problem imagining the PES’ Schultz as a “capo” enforcing ideological purity.

    And why pick on Ellul-Bonici? I have criticised her here for having given the impression that in 2003 we were voting between what was negotiated and a hypothetical, better deal. But that criticism can be made with equal force against almost all the other Labour candidates: Bedingfield, Cuschieri, Abela-Baldacchino … they all thought “partnership, l-ahjar ghazla”.

    That’s only regarding these people’s attitude on Europe. I wish someone quizzed Prof Edward Scicluna about the views he expressed as recently as last year about the funding of tertiary education, the NHS and social security, whether he changed his mind and, if not, what’s he doing with the Labour Party.

    But that’s not the kind of thorough journalism the Maltese media are interested in. Instead, they report the views of Labour delegates of the third district, whose complaints about Ellul-Bonici are obviously not motivated by the fact that she was competing against other candidates in the constituency, but that she was Eurosceptic.

    That, in case they have forgotten, is where their entire party was until only six years ago. How’s that for opportunism?

  3. Robert Spiteri says:

    Dear all,

    As a PN supporter, I believe that Sharon Ellul Bonici is eligible to be representing Malta in the EU as an MEP candidate. Recently, there have been reports in the media about Sharon’s campaign, which in my opinion are incorrect. Sharon has been active in Brussels for the last four years as an EU affairs consultant favouring Maltese citizens for the good of our country. I expect Dr Joseph Muscat will clarify these reports in the coming days. Anyway, I hope that Maltese citizens look for the right candidate who really supports us while should ignore others that believe in their own interest.

  4. Anna says:

    Daphne, sorry this is out of context, but I didn’t want you to miss it. This was posted on the beneath the report on Chiara’s third win. No further comment.


    A Hearty Congratulations to Malta`s CHIARA now a seasoned and professional performer in her natural talent & mature Art of Singing,Delivering,Interpreting + above all GIVING IT ALL psychologically and physically. Well Done.

    I do not even possess a Television so I did not watch her in action. I was professionally busy otherwise and for me it is nonsensical waste of time to view what in the majority of instances is nothing but idiocy.However I have been following CHIARA as She is REAL,not an artificial idiot who seeks to impress with unsuitable attire,grotesque make-up,inaudible and undecipherable diction,bad sound,lots of senseless movements,back-up Groups who would be much better emulated by fishmongers,and all the usual entrappings that had rendered this Malta Song Carnival into an abusive contest that one triumphs by and large through pre-set lobbying,as had occurred in cases where indeed Malta then did not fare well,on the contrary was not good at all,with one and all blaming anything but the truthful reality.

    My Party ALPHA which will be contesting the EU Parliamentary Elections with my Candidature in June has always emphasized MERITOCRACY – this time round Malta has a Professional Contestant who LIVES HER PERFORMANCE.AWGURI!

    [Daphne – Tal-biki. Oh well, at least he and Alfred Sant have one thing in common: like Mennonites, neither of them owns one of those new-fangled things called a television.]

  5. Brian*14 says:

    “If you meant to ask whether I still view the EU with a critical eye, then yes, I still do, especially when we are treated differently from other countries,” she said.

    Not impressed. That’s the most likely answer one would expect to hear from any politician. What I mean to ask is whether Sharon Ellul Bonici still views ‘partnership’ or any other form of association with the EU better than full membership as we now have it.

  6. Amanda Mallia says:

    Anna / Daphne – It looks like Emy has an obsession with chucking in capital letters

  7. Andrea says:

    Re EMMY

    Alpha leader’s alphabet soup!

  8. @Robert Spiteri

    Procatalepsis of a very narrow variety (“I’m a PN supporter but … ” [Labour adulation follows]) is the tell-tale sign of an elfin origin to the comment.

    Muscat will not stick his neck out for Ellul-Bonici because she’s the perfect fall gal. Unlike most of the other names that will appear on the Labour Party ticket she was articulate and visible (while the rest sought cover behind the then leadership).

    It’s not like Ellul-Bonici was the only Eurosceptic in 2003; she took a gamble then, she lost and with that, I believe, she lost her chance to ever serve as MP or MEP. Sadly, the rest who are acting like they have been unequivocally pro-EU membership since the dawn of time might not share such a deserved fate.

    [Daphne – I agree with you there. There was absolutely no difference between the stances of Joseph Muscat and Sharon Ellul Bonici on the matter of EU membership prior to Muscat’s protracted experience of hindsight as an MEP.]

  9. kev says:

    “Partnership”, Brian*14? What is Partnership? Is it some cruise for cohabiting couples?

  10. Anna says:

    Amanda, I think his obsession includes chucking in proper nouns, bombastic adjectives and looooong incoherent sentences.

  11. Robert Spiteri says:

    @ Fausto Majjistral

    If you are calling me a Labour supporter and not a PN supporter, send me your email and I will forward you my details for you to check out. I am sure you have the ways and means.

  12. Gerald says:

    It’s obviously the usual spin story which we have come to expect from Ivan Camilleri every now and again when he’s not copying and pasting EU reports for the benefit of The Times’ readers.

  13. edgar gatt says:

    Fausto Majistral. You believe that Ellul-Bonici lost her chance to ever serve as an MEP. Here I tend to disagree. I believe that the majority of PL voters are still against EU membership and with Sharon’s history of being so very anti EU, she stands a very good chance of getting their vote.Do not forget, that Alfred Sant is still writing articles saying that the EU membership was a bad decision.

    [Daphne – You know, in situations like this the backstabbing comes from the competition. The competition for a Labour MEP candidate is not Nationalist MEP candidates but other Labour MEP candidates. I would suggest that the campaign against Sharon Ellul Bonici is largely driven by hostility and antagonism from her competitors within the Labour MEP fold. Any votes she gets, they lose.]

  14. Brian*14 says:

    @Kev – Yes, Kev, “Partnership”, that’s what it was called. As to its meaning, well, you ought to ask either Sant or Sharon for clarification, because I for one never got it.

  15. @ Robert Spiteri

    If I’m calling you anything, it’s “dull”. Doesn’t need much checking out, just noting the cliched and mediocre use you make of an established rhetorical device to push the bollocks claim that Muscat would do anything for a candidate who’s conveniently serving as a lightning-rod for a certain kind of criticism.

  16. kev says:

    @ Anna – “Amanda, I think his obsession includes chucking in proper nouns, bombastic adjectives and looooong incoherent sentences.”

    You’re very wrong. It must be succinct. It’s got 197 words and that’s just three words short of the limit imposed by tat-Tajmz.

  17. John Schembri says:

    If one wants to get a PL candidate elected all one has to do is get the candidate attacked by the PN supporters (Jason Michallef). If the anti-PL media do not want the candidate elected, all they need to do is shower the poor candidate with praise (George Abela). Ironically, Daphne is indirectly helping Sharon in her personal campaign.

    If Labour supporters did not find any qualms accepting Joseph they wouldn’t find any difficulty voting for Sharon. After all, both of them campaigned against Malta’s EU membership.

  18. Amanda Mallia says:

    kev – Have you got nothing better to do than count words (and ones on a comment, at that)? Doesn’t your housework keep you busy enough?

  19. kev says:

    Amanda, it wasn’t that hard – I used an abacus instead of my fingers.

  20. kev says:

    Something for the record about the complaints from “the third district”. Actually, it should read ‘one man’ from the 3rd district – a man who (not) incidentally was one of the staunchest anti-EU diehards before the 2003 double-debacle. But that is how it works – today, the former diehards want a uniformly Europhile PL. They don’t want EU-critical voices reminding voters of their own past discourse, causing them to wonder about U-turns and converts. Haunted by their own past voices, which they have denounced by acting as if they were always pro-membership, they tried to frantically purge the purified party of ‘nasty eurosceptics’ who wouldn’t shut up. It’s like having closet gays campaigning against gays. The politics of expediency is one step away from despotism.

    But what about the other side? It is indeed sad to see Europhiles getting “Europe” all wrong. The phrase alone, “European Parliament”, should hint at what we’re dealing with here. But no! So misrepresented and ill-perceived has this emerging federation been, that its parliament remains, to their mind, that of a “trading club” and is called ‘European Parliament’ just for kicks. This explains why we’re living worlds apart while breathing the same air.

    I have yet to see a comment that says: ‘I am a Europhile because I want a ‘United States of Europe’ that is strong and powerful, and centrally-controlled for utmost effect globally.’ In this case, although I cannot agree that a powerful federal state necessarily benefits its citizens, I would be obliged to respect such an opinion. It is rational and there is much to debate on these lines. But reading some of the comments here and on only underlines how puerile and brainless the debate has come to be.

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