The Nationalist opposition continues to bleed from wounds of its own making.

Adrian Delia’s arguments in Parliament, defending a motion his party proposed to re-introduce dscimination in working conditions for people resorting to IVF treatments not permitted in Malta, were shallow and unconvincing.

He argued the motion was making a “legal” point, not a “moral” point. Scratch that. He said it was a “legalistic” argument. Not entirely sure what the distinction means but I know it makes me feel like ‘legalistic’ is inferior to ‘legal’ even in the speaker’s own ranking of what matters.

Parliament is not a debating society for legal beagles, to coin a phrase. The motion the PN proposed had a direct effect: a discriminatory effect that was not particularly desirable to anyone.

Norman Vella argued this clearly when he reminded that what mattered was not what was said about the motion but what the motion itself said. It is the words of the motion that the PN asked Parliament to vote on, not the words that were used to defend it.

It does not really matter what Adrian Delia said he intended by introducing it. What matters is that it would have caused discrimination where there was none.

Certainly there was no political advantage for the PN to stubbornly continue to reinforce its alienation from gay people, particularly lesbians in this case.

And the legalistic argument some sophists made that people should not be rewarded with extra days of leave for benefitting from treatments forbidden in Malta simply holds no water.

So a woman returns from a trip abroad having conceived after sperm donation, or after surragocy, which are not allowed here. And some would argue that since she did so, she should not benefit from the social assistance of an extra few days of paid leave because we should not support activities we consider illegal in Malta.

Can I stretch that argument? Shall we deny that mother maternity leave because she conceived a child after sperm donation? Shall we deny the child citizenship since they were conceived with the help of a procedure banned in Malta?

In attempting to focus on legalistic reasons to present the motion, the PN showed itself to have a very limited view of the very real social and emotional consequences of its actions and its fascination with legal niceties.

And this time I cannot argue, as I have done before, that Joseph Muscat lay a smart trap for the PN. This motion was an initiative of the PN all on its own. It was a trap it laid for itself which it proceeded to jump into with relish.

This is self-destructive. And what is even more self-destructive is that the people within the party with enough foresight and experience to predict this mess before the PN commits itself to it, are branded disloyal.

Franco Debono’s blog reported as yet undenied reports of an unhealthy quality of debate in the parliamentary group over this motion. The story confirms the general feeling one has that the outcome of a discussion in the group is consistently a challenge of compliance with loyalty to person rather than conviction of policy.

Norman Vella complains in his post on Facebook that with the other opponents to this motion he is being blamed for its failure to capture anyone’s imagination, let alone the unanimous support of the parliamentary group. The PN gained nothing from doing it and lost much instead.

Scapegoating others for one’s own errors makes walking out of the self-laid traps an even harder job.