David Casa spoke yesterday at a civil society event where Romanian veteran civil society activist Monica Macovei spoke about changes brought about in her country by resistance to abuse of power by elected governments.
Macovei’s speech, her story and the answers to the questions she was asked are full of lessons and I do not mean to minimise any of it by remarking on a 2 minute intervention by someone in the audience.
But that 2 minute intervention is very significant and should be noted particularly since most of the press had walked out by the time he had his chance to speak.
David Casa reminded that since June 2017, it was not just people from the Labour Party who attacked Daphne Caruana Galizia, who demonised her and who spoke of ‘wiping her away’, ‘doing away with her’, ‘shutting her up’. It was also people from within the PN who were doing that.
David Casa said that reminded him of a phrase Giovanni Falcone used to use when speaking on political parties: “i centri occulti della politica”, the hidden centres of power within political parties. Hidden centres whose motivations are unknown and likely to be inconsistent with the mission of the party they seek to control.
David Casa said the PN has those as well. No lesson will have been learnt from what this country has experienced in the last month if the PN, as Labour, remains convinced of its own purity. If it doesn’t seek within itself what it must clean out. If it does not confront its own mistakes, own up to them and choose the path of honesty and restraint.
What David Casa said in that room required courage and he grew in stature right before my eyes. It is not easy to face down one’s own party. We are used to zero sum games here. We are used to pointing fingers at the other and assume those around us applaud us by default.
It also required courage because the backlash is as predictable as it is certain. Talk of coups within the PN is akin to talk of traitors in the European Parliament. But inasmuch as critics of the government are not traitors to the country, critics from within a party need not have the intention of harming it or overtaking it.
No one should require David Casa’ courage to speak their mind. It should come naturally. And yet, here we are.