A different leader with a different vision
What has started as very much a leadership challenge dominated by the issue of whether party delegates and/or members should vote, amid that occasional not-so-subtle jibe here and there, is now steadily evolving into a healthy battle of ideas and vision. Two candidates have put forward their vision. It is refreshing and welcome.
Joseph Muscat outsmarted all the other candidates and presented his vision for the party first. His document, which can be viewed on his website, provides a solid plan made up of 40 proposals summarised under different practical objectives.
He comes across as someone who not only says that he wants to change the party, but who effectively says how he would like to do it.
Muscat's political discourse is modern and innately European. So is the fresh image he is transmitting. His view of this wide movement embracing all progressives and moderates together coupled with his unequivocal statements on the need for a new social agenda reflecting today's realities is, in my book, a clear move towards the politics of substance.
I like his idea of creating the necessary structures for various people, even from outside the party, for these to contribute with innovative ideas and policy-making initiatives.
The British Labour Party has been consulting thriving and successful think tanks such as the progressive Compass and the historical Fabian Society for long now. Muscat is not inventing the wheel here, but he is making sure that the party he wants to see does not lose any opportunity to re-invent and re-build itself successfully. He wishes his party to eradicate its insular boundaries.
He is advocating a party that thinks wide and outside the box. Again, not merely by saying it, but by concretising it.
Muscat is also asking the party to have the courage to change not only its image, not only its structures, but also the way it operates. I see in his proposals a move towards a more corporate and business like approach in so far as management of the party is concerned. This, again, is very welcoming. For it has been years for the MLP to project itself, think, act and do politics in a quasi-amateurish style. The results were quite inevitable.
Joseph Muscat is no prodigy. But he has the right vision for this party. He also commands the necessary political grasp and the experience not only to articulate it, but to implement it. His stint as an MEP was not marked by attitude or arrogance. Nor was he overwhelmed by the bureaucratic and vast institution home to hundreds of seasoned politicians. His stint was marked with impeccable results which, in some cases, rocked a complete system and brought tangible results to the Maltese people.
I hope that whoever votes for MLP leader this time round finds the courage to make the wisest decision in the long-term interest not only of the MLP, but also of the country.