I had a very interesting conversation with one of my readers today. It was on Joe Debono Grech.
Joe Debono Grech is an old socialist and Mintoffian who lived through the 1960s and till this last day in politics remained true to his old socialist principles. Few will understand him and why he said that Labour is the “Good Thief” in a recent political rally. Those who want to understand him can only do so by understanding the 1960s and what people like Joe Debono Grech experienced. No one ever made this historical analysis in our history to explain why the class and political divisions in society are so well entrenched – this was the focus of most of my historiographical work. My biases are clear. In my work, I argue that Malta’s economic development and the economic emancipation of the working class took place in the 1970s. I will not tire of you the details with a history lecture.
Joe Debono Grech is a socialist and a Mintoffian who believed and literally lived the socialist cause and transition. From the poverty and misery of the 1960s to what we call today’s middle-class. I also argue in my work that much of the Labour violence in the 1980s was perpetuated by Lorry Sant and Wistin Abela and other corrupt figures in the Labour Party who went out of control. Mintoff had by then lost a lot of his power and control in the Party. In order to facilitate and consolidate his control, Mintoff created the “bureau” that used to occasionally meet with some cabinet members. In a meeting held in Castille on October 19th 1979 by the bureau and some cabinet members which discussed the violent events when Labour thugs trashed the Times and Eddie Fenech Adami’s house in Birkirkara, a committee member claimed that Joe Debono Grech tried to calm down the crowds unsuccessfully.
Joe Debono Grech felt betrayed by people like Lorry Sant and Wistin Abela who went rogue and tarnished the Party’s historical legacy of those times. But there is an important factor to consider which makes Joe Debono Grech’s anger at Joseph Muscat probably much even bigger. The troubles of the 1980s, the violence and the collapse of rule of law was a collective responsibility. Everyone in Labour failed to fix and organize the Party in the 1980s. Despite Lorry Sant bearing the blame for his violence, terror and corruption, it was the Labour Party’s fault that failed to stop him and his thugs and everyone had collective responsibility in covering up for them. It was a bit different with Joseph Muscat. Joseph Muscat knowingly and willingly deceived the Party and put people like Joe Debono Grech in a position to believe that Joseph Muscat never did anything wrong and all the allegations and stories about him were untruths. November 2019 changed that because Joseph Muscat’s deception came all too evident in the public by then.
I am not making any justifications whatsoever. I’m simply highlighting the historical context. Joe Debono Grech’s regrets over the 1980s are feelings pertaining to shared collective responsibility. Joe’s regrets with Joseph Muscat is that he was betrayed and deceived by his leader and whom he had given his full trust.