Delegates at a Labour Party extraordinary general conference this evening approved a proposal to allow MPs to contest the post of Deputy Leader for Party Affairs, voting 393-1 in favour.
Closing off the conference, former Deputy Leader for Party Affairs Toni Abela thanked the members of the administration and the party’s various off-shoots. He added that he felt “serene” about his departure.
Speaking about his relationship with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Dr Abela revealed that there was a time when he doubted the party leader’s “political methodology.”
He said that he was proved wrong however, and saw that Dr Muscat had shown the people that Labour is a pro-business party, made himself accessible to the population and made the party more relevant than ever before.
He stressed that no person is “indispensable,” and that change does not necessarily mean that the party will suffer. Dr Abela added that growth is necessary, and although people become concerned when faced with change, it is the values underpinning a movement which ensures its relevance.
“We are a party that is in no way lacking of human resources.”
He added that the party committees are essential to the party, and must be supported, respected and praised.
He concluded by saying, “this is not goodbye. I will not say goodbye, but see you,”
This was Dr Abela’s final speech at a labour conference, closing off a long and successful career within the party.
Nominations for Dr Abela’s post open on 6 February and close on 9 February. Elections will be held on 25 February.
In his intervention, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said believes that there needs to be a “link” between the government and the Labour Party (PL), because of a lack of “synergy.”
Dr Muscat revealed that for the past year, former Deputy Leader of Party Affairs Toni Abela expressed his desire to leave the post. His address comes during the PL extraordinary general conference which aims to allow MPs to contest the post of Deputy Leader of Party Affairs.
“We need new party structures which will make us futureproof, meaning that that in the future the party will not become irrelevant. We need structures which make people truly believe they are part of our movement.”
He “strongly” believes that the person chosen for the post should build on the important work of Toni Abela, but should also work to build a completely new PL structure.
“We need structures which assure that for the next 10 years we [PL] remain the most relevant political party in Malta.”
Dr Muscat said that the changes being proposed, are happening at a time of “tranquillity,” rather than in reaction to a crisis.
He said that this is illustrative of the ever evolving and changing PL.
“We are making changes while in a tranquil position, rather than reacting to a crisis.”
He stressed that the government and the PL should never intertwine, however a link which ensures continuity and communication is necessary in order to better serve the people.
Dr Muscat thanked Dr Abela for his work, and said that his “integrity” and “honesty” can never be called into question. He called Dr Abela an inspiration, adding that his values of social democracy must be further cemented within the party.
He wished him luck in his future career, and thanked him profusely for all the work he has done for the party, calling it a “thankless” job more often than not.
Dr Muscat said that the party had radically changed Malta in the way that it perceives certain issues. He said that the PL has strengthened civil liberties in Malta, championing the rights of the LGBITQ community and supporting the right to divorce.
He added that this is illustrative of the Labour Party “movement.” We are a restless party, constantly wanting change and improvement. This will not be the first or last change, he said. “I believe that there are many things that need changing, and we will do this together,” said Dr Muscat.
Economy Minister Chris Cardona said tonight that he is “not interested” in the post and has somebody “younger in mind.” He also said that the Maltese population have placed unprecedented levels of trust in the party and the government.