Muscat: back to the future
So, former Labour Minister Joe Grima does not feel he should apologise for his comments against Fr Alexander Lucie Smith whose blog in The Catholic Herald’s website gave a less than flattering account of Dom Mintoff.
One can really judge in the context of the facts that Grima was a minister in Mintoff’s times and left Labour during Alfred Sant’s brief attempt to rid the party of Mintoff’s influence, He then enthusiastically endorsed Joseph Muscat when the new Labour leader took over from Dr Sant.
Writing in The Times the other day, Grima longs for closure. Does he really believe any one of the many thousands of people who suffered Mintoff’s little tyranny can close this chapter in their lives as if it were some part of a placid piece of fiction?
In his blog, Fr Lucie Smith mentioned some of Mintoff’s despotic actions that can only close and heal after a very long time indeed, and certainly not after watching Labour, led by Muscat, extol Mintoff in North Korean fashion.
He forgot all that Mintoff brought on the Labour Party itself, causing it to lose six of the last seven general elections held since Mintoff wrought his worst on Malta.
The good that Mintoff did in the social services field, Paul Boffa and George Borg Olivier had started before him and Eddie Fenech Adami and Lawrence Gonzi widened and bettered after him. But the bad that Mintoff did, only Mintoff did. I’ll just mention the economic controls and his antics in education which had a very negative impact on the working classes.
Mintoff imposed vicious socialist controls that caused official unemployment to shoot up to 10 per cent, today’s equivalent of 15,000 unemployed, together with huge underemployment that was hidden in government labour corps under military discipline with the agreement of the General Workers’ Union, which had become part of the Labour movement.
Mintoff limited and debased the only means the workers have of bettering their lot: education and training. He closed all non-utilitarian courses at the University limiting the total student population to just 700.
Mintoff closed the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology too. The closure of the Polytechnic meant technically bright working class students wasted precious years in badly run and ill-equipped trade schools acquiring no skills and no education.
Compare Mintoff’s 700 students at University and zero at Mcast with 12,000 now at University and another 8,000 at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology getting the education and skills, as many have already done in the last 25 years, to fend for themselves both locally and, increasingly, internationally.
This is Fenech Adami and Gonzi’s gift to the working classes: a passport to meaningful productive jobs, real and increasing incomes and personal realisation.
A true leader gives his followers wings, not chains. This is what the Maltese electorate has been repeatedly voting for in the last 31 years: the economic liberalisation that has taken private sector full-time jobs from 65,000 to 110,000; the good of Mintoff’s social services legacy bettered; and the opportunities in education and training that have widened the middle class so much that Muscat now has to pay lip service to it every Sunday while extolling his political “father” who viciously attacked the middle class.
Muscat kissing Mintoff’s coffin and whitewashing the Labour past is a leap back and has postponed to far off in the future any “closure” of Mintoff’s bad years.