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Muscat heckled by MEP Ana Gomes during meeting for European left

Prime Minister urges PES to embrace political and technological disruption

Updated 2.40pm

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called on European socialist parties to embrace a “politics of progressive disruption” on Saturday, after he was heckled by a critical Portuguese MEP, according to a report.

Dr Muscat’s message for the left to welcome change rather than fear it was partially derailed by firebrand MEP Ana Gomes, who heckled the Prime Minister as he took the stage in Lisbon and followed that up with a series of tweets lambasting him as a “crook”.  

In his speech at a Party of European Socialists congress being held in Lisbon, Dr Muscat urged the political left to venture out of their comfort zones and to be willing to take their cues from their political rivals.

“When a conservative politician steals one of our good ideas, he is called smart. But when one of us does that, we call him a traitor,” he said a senior statesman had once told him.

“The great successes of our movement came when we broke with the past”.

Emphasising that change was inevitable, Dr Muscat encouraged fellow politicians to embrace technology.

“We progressives cannot be the Luddites of the new technological revolution,” he said, as he argued that the threat technology posed to traditional work was in itself an opportunity for parties of the left.

Devising solutions for that conundrum would be a priority for the next European Commission president, Dr Muscat said, as the PES common candidate Frans Timmermans sat in the front row and listened.

The Maltese prime minister said Malta was “not perfect”, but added that the model his government had adopted seemed to be working.

He then rattled off a list of achievements which his government had spearheaded in Malta, telling his audience about the country’s GDP growth and unemployment rates, its continent-leading record on LGBTIQ legislation, and measures to encourage women to enter the workforce.

“Affirmative action” – in other word, gender quotas – would soon follow, he said.

Dr Muscat walked off to applause, though there there was at least one audience member who left with an altogether different impression.

“No shred of credibility for this crook,” tweeted MEP Ana Gomes. “No good judgement for whoever applauds and hosts this crook”.

Ms Gomes – one of the European Parliament’s most vociferous critics of the Muscat government – did not even wait until Dr Muscat was done speaking to make her views known.

According to Portuguese news outlet Observador, she yelled out “shame, shame, you support corruption” as the Prime Minister began his speech, as well as calling out the name of murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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