We all heard the sad news that yesterday Dom Mintoff died at the age of 96 in his home at Tarxien! His death like his life led to disagreement and division between the Maltese. Some praising him for his work whilst some criticizing him! All of that is acceptable! What isn't acceptable however is a blog entry like Caruana Galizia's which insults a death man! Trying to create controversy with the hope of drawing attention to herself! That kind of attitude is disgusting and unacceptable. Moving on however....
Dom Mintoff was born in Bormla in 1916! He would become one of biggest key figures in Maltese political history! Forget all the partisan arguments you heard over the years from uninformed sources! In this entry we are going to give a brief description of Mintoff's political career. Remember that you can't judge a career by examining 10 years (1970's - 1980's) But you have to examine his complete career from the late 1940's till 1984 as prime minister) and then till the late 1990's as Member of Parliament!
Dom Mintoff was a controversial figure. From the beginning of his political career, back in 1947: He caused controversy when he addressed a Laborite group (extremists) in St Paul's Bay. This created bad blood between him and Boffa (then leader of the MLP) and between Mintoff and Bishop Gonzi (Then bishop of Gozo) Even the way he took helm of the MLP was in a controversial fashion. Mintoff was negotiating with the British in London. He was asking for money to build a new electrical plant.
He also had an Ultimatum signed both by him and Boffa, stating that should the British refuse than Malta would ask help to another super power (USSR). The British weren't going to accept a threat like that from a colony and therefore demanded that Boffa should withdraw the ultimatum or they would stop all financial help towards Malta. Boffa had no option but to withdraw. Mintoff was furious and did not want to have anything to do with Paul Boffa anymore.
In 1949 Boffa was removed from leader of the MLP and Mintoff was announced as the new leader! (Boffa started a new party MWP and continued to govern the island until 1951) Mintoff's first victory in an election came in 1955! He immediately started to negotiate for integration with the British! However you need to understand his argument. Back in 1955 the Maltese standard of living was very poor and the Maltese were being very much exploited by the British.
Mintoff argued that with integration Malta would achieve equality and a better standard of living (because the British would invest more) However integration wouldn't pass, Mintoff wanted to have complete independence! (However at that time that was impossible because Malta was still considered as a vital colony)
Mintoff did a premature referendum (which was boycotted by both the PN and the Church). However the majority of those who voted were in favor of integration. The Integration constitution had many problems like how many representatives Malta would have in the House of Commons. They were also religious problems because Archbishop Gonzi wanted guarantees that Malta's official religion would remain Roman Catholic.
However the British could not guarantee that because no government could tie a future government with a guarantee they had made and economical problems because Mintoff was only doing this to improve Malta's standard of living (He wanted guarantees as well) Malta's importance was decreasing and the British were downsizing the Dockyard (the majority of the Maltese worked there) Mintoff wanted guarantees that the laid off workers would be offered an alternative job, however the British did not give any guarantees. This led to Mintoff to break relations with Britain and start pushing for Independence.
Now both PN and MLP were pushing for Independence. However the PN wanted an Independence within the common wealth (still maintain close relations with Britain) and the MLP wanted a complete Independence! The break with Britain resolution caused chaos in Malta, with violent demonstrations on the streets, so much that the Governor had to suspend the constitution and call a state of Emergency!
Before the 1962 elections relations between the MLP and the Church were at an all time low. All the executive members of the MLP were interdicted and it was a mortal sin to vote for the MLP in that election. The PN won comfortably and pushed on with their agenda of Independence within the Commonwealth! By 1962 Malta's strategic importance was very insignificant and British reports show that they were willing to get rid of it along side many other colonies. They had to cut down their expenditure.
So when Borg Olivier asked for independence in the Savoy Hotel in London. They said yes on the spot! Malta became independent in 1964 and the PN remained in government till 1971! By 1971 the Church apologized to the MLP and accepted that in a modern society there has to be a separation between Church and state! The 1971 elections were won comfortably by the MLP. Mintoff started to push for complete independence (Malta Republic) and managed to get that in 1974 when the last British governor Robert Laycock had to leave the Maltese islands and the Queen of England was no longer the head of state!
After this there was a complete dominance by the MLP with Mintoff remaining prime minister till 1984 when he resigned and gave his place to Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici. From 1974 till 1984 Mintoff tenure seemed rather like a dictatorship by some. Although one has to condemn all the violence that occurred, some events can be justified. Like for example Bulk Buying! Since Malta removed all the ties with Britain in 1974 all financial help we had been receiving since the year 1800, were removed + all the workers that worked with the British (over 75% of the population) needed alternative employment!
Obviously this made the Maltese economy very poor! So Mintoff saw bulk buying as a mean to reduce Maltese expenditure with the hope to fix the Maltese economy faster! In the late 90's Mintoff lead to the fall of the MLP from government and was considered a traitor by many! However he always stuck to his principles regardless of what others said!
Mintoff will best be remembered with being a great negotiator, with introducing countless social benefits like old age pensions, children's allowance and students’ stipends and with making the Maltese islands a Republic!
Whatever your political ideology, you have to acknowledge that Dom Mintoff was one of the key figures in Maltese political history!
May you RIP Dom Mintoff! Thank you for all the work for our country!