He even took on Encyclopaedia Brittanica
Dom Mintoff’s history is made up of struggles and bitter negotiations with the Church, the British and at the turn of the millennium... Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
The former Prime Minister wanted a longer entry in the foremost of British general knowledge encyclopaedias.
It was some time after the new millennium and economist Lino Briguglio was the contributor for the Malta entry. He recalls meeting Mr Mintoff several times over the matter. “He wanted a longer entry than the maximum permitted to explain his international relations approach. It took a lot of discussion to persuade him there was a limit on the number of words.”
Encyclopaedia Britannica no longer publishes its printed editions, instead focusing on the online version. Mr Mintoff’s web entry is 727 words long and it featured on the website’s front page on Thursday.
This is just one of many anecdotes Prof. Briguglio has of Mr Mintoff. A former member of the Labour Party executive committee, Prof. Briguglio was kicked out in 1977 after speaking out against political violence that characterised the decade.
He also wrote a book back then about how the violent and criminal elements in the Labour Party were not being controlled by Mr Mintoff.
“He did try to control them and I have evidence of this but they became too powerful within the party,” Prof. Briguglio recalled.
But he does not blame Mr Mintoff for his expulsion from the party, saying this was instigated by Dennis Sammut, the propaganda secretary at the time. Mr Sammut fled the country in the late 1980s.
Prof. Briguglio recalls experiencing first-hand Mr Mintoff’s characteristic of shouting with ministers.
“Once he shouted at Wistin Abela in front of me because what Wistin got from China, I think it was copybooks, was not to his liking,” he recounted of those days when foreign relations were premised on the material benefits Malta could obtain from other countries.
“After telling Wistin off he started joking with him, as if dealing with a little boy after a scolding,” Prof. Briguglio said.