Saturday, 6 February 2010

Di-ve: Muscat addresses party delegates
by John Paul Cordina -
03 February 2010 -- 20:35CEST

Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat said that one had to acknowledge that a Nationalist government had proven beneficial in the past, although he stressed that it has since lost its direction.
Answering questions from party delegates during its general conference on Wednesday evening, Dr Muscat said that although it might be an unpopular thought among those present, a PN government had, at times, performed well and acted in the country’s interest.

He was asked to list the PN government’s mistakes over the past 20 years, to which he initially quipped that he would need far too much time to do so.

The question-and-answer session, which would be televised on the party’s station later in the night, was held because the party had nothing to hide, Dr Muscat maintained.

The first questions targeted the concept of a “movement of progressives and moderates” that the Labour Party was seeking to transform itself into. The Labour leader said that increasingly, people were attached to ideas, rather than political parties, and this needed to be addressed. He also noted that the party would start to falter if it stopped changing.

Answering a delegate’s concerns that the party won every election except general elections, Dr Muscat said that he hoped that this fear remained, to avoid the party being overconfident in the run-up to a general election.

Questions and answers addressed a wide variety of topics ranging from issues affecting the party to specific policies including utility rates, agriculture, housing and even Air Malta.

Dr Muscat said that a Labour government would allow policemen and soldiers to unionise, albeit without the right to strike for obvious reasons.

He revealed that a design brief for the emblem which would replace its traditional torch had been done, but that it would be the party’s 25,000 members who would select its final design.

Addressing a question about Labour’s policies on gay rights, Dr Muscat did not mention specific policies, but noted that the state should not interfere in one’s personal life, and added that whoever did not respect the dignity of gay people had no place in the movement.

When asked on the issue of poverty, the party leader said that work, education and a strong welfare state were important to address it, noting that education was particularly crucial.

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