The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

The might of an undercurrent - an updated history of the Labour Party

Thursday, 22 October 2020, 10:40 Last update: about 2 months ago

History is the future in reverse. We look into our past to recognise our present in its eventual future. Though we’d like to see inevitability and predictability in our past, no present, then as now, ever contained an inevitable future or a thoroughly predictable one. Understanding the past, after all, is always a matter of comprehending ourselves here and now in order to glimpse into the possible futures before us. For, as it was in the past, is now, and ever shall be, the future is the assuming of responsibility in the face of odds, risks and chances.

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These might be the guiding principles of the history of the 100-year-old Labour Party which is currently being published in parts. The second volume, covering the years 1940-1960, traces the events of a party, both behind the scenes as in the public domain, which had a very humble beginning, but which went on to become, for better or for worse, a political force to contend with.

The Labour Party began in 1920 as a need of some dockyard labourers to better their lot. Their coming together caught the eye of a few middle-class professionals who formally began an organising, the Camera del Lavoro, on 15 October of that year. This unifying factor, however, echoed throughout the labouring class, and began to channel a progressive undercurrent into a political voice. In a few years’ time, this expression began to parallel the industrial arm, which was the General Workers’ Union. Together, the political and the industrial, transformed the political scene and the nation.

Francis Galea’s second volume of L-Istorja tal-Partit Laburista (the history of the Labour Party), is published by SKS Publications, and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the party’s establishment. This is an apt way to celebrate the living organisation that the party is.

The volume, containing 809 pages, most of them adorned with pictures and relevant documents, is fully researched and referenced. The first volume, covering 1920−1940, had been published three years ago. Of course, other volumes are forthcoming, dealing with the party’s history after 1960.

Francis Galea is a published historical researcher. His books include monographs on local cooperatives (2002; 2012), the Union Band of Luqa (2005), John Mamo (2007), the De Rohan Band of Żebbuġ (2010), and the Żejtun Band of Żejtun (2010).

L-Istorja tal-Partit Laburista, volume two, will be on sale as from major bookshops and from the Labour National Centre at Ħamrun.

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