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‘Mintoff’s economics meant no chocolate, toothpaste’

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi addressing his Nationalist supporters in Birżebbuġa, yesterday.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi addressing his Nationalist supporters in Birżebbuġa, yesterday.

Dom Mintoff’s economic policies forced the Maltese to travel to Sicily to buy chocolate and toothpaste, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi recalled yesterday, as he warned voters not to forget the past.

“Open your eyes. The past is a mirror of the future,” he told dozens of supporters who gathered at Birżebbuġa.

He referred to an article penned late last month by Labour MEP Edward Scicluna – a Finance Minister “contender” – who argued that some elements of “Mintoffianomics” could be applied today.

Dr Gonzi said Mr Mintoff’s economic policies also resulted in “second hand” telephone lines, where people could listen in to the conversations of others.

Speaking just over a week after the funeral of Mr Mintoff, Dr Gonzi did not shy away from discussing the former Prime Minister’s controversial politics.

Answering questions fielded by PBS journalist Maria Muscat, Dr Gonzi said the PN was proud of the results it achieved in education which contrasted dramatically with the policies spearheaded by Mr Mintoff and, more recently, Alfred Sant.

“We never closed a school,” he said emphatically to loud applause.

Dr Gonzi said the PN always strived to give families the freedom to take their own decisions on jobs, education and health. The PN’s aim was to create choice, he said, referring to the current slogan “mychoice.pn”.

Speaking in the district from which rebel MP Franco Debono got elected, Dr Gonzi was also asked about the instability that has characterised the government.

He said the government had spent four-and-a-half years being accused of instability but it had continued to perform. “If we were so unstable we should have been worse off than the countries around us. Instead, we are better,” he said.

Dr Gonzi said the stability of a government depended on parliamentary votes and the PN in government had successfully presented several Bills and budgets.

He admitted there were “internal difficulties” that must be dealt with democratically.

The party’s decisions must be centred on the national interest and must be taken “seriously, strongly and with certainty”, he said.

Politicians, he stressed, must be of service to the country.

Dr Gonzi criticised Labour leader Joseph Muscat for remaining silent about his party’s policies for the past four-and-a-half years.

He made specific reference to the eight-month Libyan crisis, where Labour did not “stick its neck out” the way the government did.

Although Labour did not put spokes in the government’s wheels, Dr Gonzi said, it held back and “played safe” until one side emerged victorious.

Dr Gonzi said that the few proposals that Labour uttered, usually unwittingly, showed how “disastrous” Dr Muscat and his team would be for the country, such as when he spoke about immigration and urged Malta to do as Italy had done and therefore refuse to rescue migrants in distress.

Meanwhile, Dr Gonzi also mentioned the upcoming Independence Day celebrations, which he referred to as the “best” national feast.

He reminded supporters that Labour opposed national independence – a sign of lack of faith in the people.

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