Alfred the great
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Alfred the great

Let’s say it out loud and clear. Dr Alfred Sant was way beyond a political failure, although, if the full truth be told, he did get rid of the old thugs of the Mintoffian era, moved his party out of antediluvian times and got his cronies to wear suits and sent horse-buckling belts to be damned.

He was hopeless at practically everything, even having a fight to the death with Dom—Sant’s own death in a metaphorical way of course. However, we often overlook one great big favour he bestowed on the nation. His opposition to the EU, fighting the PN with all his might, made all his party people, even those in favour of joining the EU, into rabid opposers.

This made Romano Prodi – then EU Commission President – even more determined to see our accession, so he wangled a grand cash package, thus ensuring a Maltese yes vote. And the rest is recent history, thankfully making us part of a bloc that gave us a new lease of life. We moved into the 21st century.

But there is more. This Alfred Sant who now wants to represent us in the European Parliament gave another major contribution to Malta’s acceptance of the EU. Yes irony sits most grandly on Dr Sant.

Consider what he did to our country: back in the old days we had two parties with diametrically opposed ideas about the EU. One thought it was hyper-heaven, the other thought it was lower than hell. They fought, they argued, they opposed all the other said tooth and nail. Malta was split in half—the IVA guys and the ones screaming for some form of Swizz confederacy.

Once all went smoothly and Alfred Sant lost a couple more elections, the MLP (or PL) admitted defeat, changed leader, changed course and changed their feelings about the EU.

The PN remained steadfast in their love of anything EU—the stars on the flag never lost their allure for all their leaders and followers. And both parties—which, as we know, garner over 90% of all known votes in our elections—became indistinguishable in their approach to the EU.

The leader of the Labour movement has screamed out over and over that we are the best Europeans, we are paladins of Brussels (except when they are made to smell the coffee), we love Europe and we will remain there not just to learn but to teach, to lead, to show the way.

Hardly anyone except Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici is still against the EU. So, while many Member States are expecting a strong Eurosceptic vote in the May MEP elections, we are on the whole, and on the surface, strongly in favour. .

Dr Alfred Sant never meant it to be but ironically he has helped shape our true European psyche. Thank you Dr Sant.

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