Mark Camilleri (right) with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at the Malta Book Festival
Malta Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri has delivered a rallying cry to the Labour Party, urging it to take advantage of its historic public trust and parliamentary majority to sort out its corruption problems.
“Things can change for the better, but if there is going to be any change at all, in a progressive direction, it will come from the Labour Party,” Camilleri said in an interview with MaltaToday. “The Labour Party is in a position to start addressing these issues in civic and ideology terms. Why? Because we have just defeated our common enemy – the Nationalist Party – by a landslide. Now that we have defeated the Nationalists, we need to sort out our own things. We have plenty of time, and plenty of opportunity to do this because the Nationalists are not a serious contender to the Labour Party in an election. They are not capable of being an alternative government.
“So we have the privilege to sort out the problems in the PL right now. We couldn’t do this in an election campaign. Now, we can start bringing in changes to the Labour Party; to improve and to solve the problems that are now undermining the Labour Party in government.
Camilleri is so far the only prominent Labour Party insider to publicly call for the resignation of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri in the wake of the recent revelations by The Daphne Project, but a number of other insiders have expressed similar beliefs to Lovin Malta on condition of anonymity.
In his interview with MaltaToday, Camilleri argued that PL supporters are dismissing the Nationalist Party’s battlecry against corruption seriously because the same party had, when in government, embarked on a campaign to discredit former PL leader Alfred Sant’s anti-corruption warnings in the 1990s.
“Sorry, but why would you expect, right now, that Labourites, all of a sudden, will start taking serious note of these issues when you have created this environment yourself, and have been perpetuating this ideology of corruption for the last 30 years? Things don’t change that quickly, I’m sorry…”
Camilleri also argued that the siege mentality exhibited by many Labour supporters when their leaders are under attack is rooted in how the PL had for many years been the only sense of security for the Maltese working class.
“The working class, in this country, has been besieged and exploited, to a great extent, for so many years, that the only sense of security these people can have is in the Labour Party,” he said. “And this is not about nepotism, I’m sorry. This is about basic political survival. For example, you have the Archbishop, right now, persistently and constantly attacking the government. He may be right on certain issues, but that is not the point. The Church has waged a ruthless war against the Labour Party, and the working class in general, to the extent that these people have been ostracised from society. This is something we should speak about. The Church shouldn’t have the cheek to criticise Labour, when it did all those atrocities in the 1960s. The least it should do is apologise…
“People don’t understand the suffering that the workers’ movement went through in the 1960s. This must be spoken about. Because this is why Labour others think and act in this way. Once they are besieged, they will take the side of their leaders, no matter what. Again, the media don’t understand this. I know stories from the 1960s, for example, about people who stopped making love to each other – I’m talking about Labourite married couples – because priests used to tell them that it’s a sin to make love to each other, and have children, because they were Labourites. There are people who are still traumatised by these things, you know. How can you expect these people to, all of a sudden, turn their backs on their leaders, even if they are corrupt? When these people have been besieged for so many years? This ‘siege mentality’ did not come from nowhere. But that is also why this is a good opportunity to start speaking about these things, and maybe even start criticising the party leaders. Because time is passing; we have a very strong party, which can defeat the Nationalist Party once and for all…”