Mintoff, the firebrand in his very own words
Anthony Manduca lists some of Mintoff’s more memorable quotes.
Dom Mintoff was a controversial divisive figure who played a dominant role in Maltese politics for close to 40 years. A firebrand charismatic left-winger, he clashed with the Catholic Church, turned Malta into a Republic, greatly increased welfare benefits, expanded the role of the state in the economy, established close ties to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya and Communist China, had a love-hate relationship with Britain and presided over a period of political violence and an erosion of civil liberties and the rule of law.
In December 1986, two years after he stepped down as Prime Minister, he was instrumental in convincing his Labour Party to agree to a constitutional amendment on majority rule which paved the way for the Nationalist Party to win the May 1987 election.
In 1998 he voted against his own party in Parliament which led to the collapse of Alfred Sant’s Labour government. The Nationalist Party consequently won the September 1998 election (and the following two elections) which ironically paved the way for Malta to join the European Union in 2004, something which Mr Mintoff had always opposed.
“We were poor because we were ignorant and they left us in an ignorant state on purpose. Not because God wanted us to be poor, as today there is the same God”
– Speech in Qormi, March 27, 1976.
“French and German workers don’t have more than two meatballs. However, they have greater eagerness, willpower and a greater sense of responsibility than you have”
– Addressing drydocks workers in Cospicua, March 15, 1973.
“Children should be trained at an early age in the merits of socialism”
– Addressing the annual conference of the Young Socialists as the Church schools dispute hotted up, March 16, 1984.
“It is not my style to crush opposition. All my life I have striven to convince. This country is too small to remain divided for long. I hope you believe me”
– Letter to Mabel Strickland after The Times building was set on fire and ransacked by a mob of Socialist thugs, October 18, 1979.
“Shut up Luns! Who the hell do you think you are? Are you God? I am not going to be treated like some Indonesian nigger”
– Shouting at Nato secretary general Joseph Luns during negotiations in Rome, December 1971.
“How could Malta remain neutral if it joined the European Union?”
– Speaking to university students during the EU referendum campaign, February 18, 2003.
“What happened was the result of spontaneous actions after provocations and systematic incitement by the Leader of the Opposition in his newspapers and the incitement of Nationalist MPs in the Council of Europe”
– Mr Mintoff’s reaction shortly after Eddie Fenech Adami’s house was ransacked by a Socialist mob on October 15, 1979.
“When we took office, we had an English Governor-General, an English Queen, English currency, a Bank of England man as the head of our central bank ... We had a police force run by a commissioner who stated openly that his loyalty was to the British crown and nobody else. This was only eight years ago. Now Malta is a republic. Everything has changed. Nothing is British anymore.”
– Interview with The New York Times, 1979.
“I wish to tell the opposition that if I had at any time hurt them, I did so in the heat of the moment, and not out of hatred”
– Resignation speech in Parliament, December 22, 1984.
“If only this dream were to come true! It would make all members of the Labour Party dance with joy, unfold the Union Jack and embrace every Briton armed or unarmed”
– Writing on integration with Britain, in The Knight, February 1954.
“Today there are two Europes, the Europe of Cain and the Europe of Abel. The Europe of Cain is oppressive, the Europe of Abel, progressive. We can come to an arrangement with the latter”
– Speech in Parliament, November 7, 1978.
“I will not govern unless I have the majority behind me”
– Speaking before the 1981 election. Mr Mintoff’s Labour Party nevertheless governed for five-and-a-half years after that election despite the opposition Nationalists gaining an absolute majority of votes in the December 1981 election.
“What we do not accept is that the presence of the American and Russian fleets in our Mediterranean Sea is inevitable”
– Speech in Athens, April 1974.
“If Britain continues to play games like these, we will remove the George Cross from the Maltese flag”
– Speech in Parliament, March 4, 1980.
“Had it not been for the steadfast support of President (Muammar) Gaddafi, his Revolutionary Command Council and the people of Libya, we would have literally starved into surrender”
– Mr Mintoff addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, September 28, 1978.
“I know that in order to believe in Christ one does not need to go to Church, and I do not go to Church”
– Addressing the Young Socialist League conference, April 1981.
“I can guarantee that when the Labour Party is in office there will be jobs for everyone”
– Addressing a Labour Party meeting in Birkirkara, February 24, 1964.
“I do not agree with the Budget measures and I cannot vote in favour of them unless I am taken seriously and my proposals seriously considered”
– Criticising Labour Prime Minister Alfred Sant’s Budget in Parliament, November 13, 1997.
“Malta has arrived at its moment of truth”
– Speech in Parliament on the need for the government and opposition to agree on a constitutional amendment to ensure majority rule, December 11, 1986. A few days later the Labour Party conference unanimously agreed to support such an amendment.
“This is the beginning of a Socialist generation”
– Addressing a Labour meeting in Mosta, February 28, 1976.
“I warn the black right wing forces that at the slightest sign that they are helping the Nationalist opposition in Malta to break laws, the workers’ movement will even ask the devil’s help to smash them”
– Labour Party meeting in Valletta, January 30, 1982.
“The Labour Party chose to follow the constitution and democracy”
– Addressing General Workers’ Union delegates on January 27, 1982, a few weeks after Labour remained in office despite the Nationalist Party receiving an absolute majority of votes.
“We have a right, if we want it, to membership of the Arab League”
– Interview with MEED (Middle East news, data and analysis), May 23, 1980.