It’s never an easy task to walk up to a podium, tap on the mic and address a crowd. It’s more difficult knowing that your audience isn’t only the few hundreds sitting in front of you, but a much bigger crowd watching from home. Ultimately, it’s a matter of choice, one could either take the easy way out and resort to the usual political rhetoric; or be true to one’s self, say what needs to be said, even if it might not be music to the audience’s ears, and risk a silent reception of blank faces. I chose the latter in my first ever address to the Labour Party Annual General Conference in 2018.
My challenge to the Labour Party leadership and delegates was clear: we needed to become a better version of ourselves. We had to remain the political force in our country that turned people’s dreams and aspirations into achievable realities. But we strongly needed to identify and fix our flaws, think more independently from Government, engage with our critics and be mature enough to be able to self-criticise and accept the criticism of genuine people who wanted the best for the party and the country.
A lot has happened since then, internally and externally. Among others, on February 26 2020, when The Times of Malta announced that I was no longer to serve as Labour Party CEO. That was an evening I will never forget.
For the past year, I have kept a very low profile, limiting my social media presence and refusing every request for comment by my friends in the press. This meant that I had more time to observe and reflect on what was going on in Malta. A new Prime Minister, a new Leader of the Opposition, the handling of the pandemic, the revelations surrounding the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, the unprecedented Rule of Law changes and, on a more general note, the Facebookisation of politics.
Raised in an apolitical family where political discourse was banned at home, it has always been natural for me to see things in a more objective way than most of my peers. My views were not passed on to me by family, or dictated by any political figure I chose to follow religiously, but rather, by the quest for social justice; social mobility; the fight for a liberal and progressive Malta which converts taboos into non-issues and where everyone is free to live as one desires.
In order to achieve this, we need the freethinkers to take a more active role on the national stage. We need less partisan bickering and more informed discussion. And this is precisely what led me to take on this new venture.
TheJournal.mt is not a news portal. Our aim is not to emulate any news website in Malta. We don’t need to. Our objective is to present analytical insight on issues of national interest.
We’re declaring our agenda upfront. Yes, TheJournal.mt is owned by the Labour Party. But make no mistake, it will not serve as a vehicle for propaganda. I wouldn’t have accepted to lead it if it were the case, but rather a space where one can discuss policy, dissect complex issues and, yes, keep the Government in check. All of this with no sensational headlines or clickbait material.
It is striking that this initiative is being launched by the Labour Party, the party in government reaching the end of its second term; when the temptation of going into a siege mentality becomes ever so real. But it is also natural for Leftists to feel the need to analyse and discuss policy, often in a passionate way.
This is what we will be doing. I’m glad that you’re joining us on this journey.