Things may be coming to a head at the Nationalist Party. It is hard to say if this could be the time when Adrian Delia finds he has gone too far and that these last set of revelations end up convincing enough people that he is not fit for purpose.
In that now famous WhatsApp message to the party officials this morning Adrian Delia put it in crusading terms. In fighting for his own survival, he is fighting for God and country. Those disagreeing with him were therefore apostates against God and traitors to the country.
That is not merely a declaration of war. It is a warning that no prisoners would be taken. “Some will perish,” he growled.
It’s quite exquisite that barely hours before Adrian Delia sent this message I received the Hitler’s “Downfall” parody of Adrian “Adolf” Delia receiving the uncomfortable news that videos of him from within his household had now hit the WhatsApp airwaves and everyone had seen him in pyjamas.
The inconvenient news was visually compared to being told the Russians had now made it across the Spree and the panzer divisions he had been moving around the map the last several weeks were only inside his head.
There’s a lot to compare with that bunker, more perhaps than the enterprising author of those subtitles intended.
There’s a remarkable lack of a grasp on reality.
Both anti-heroes in these parallel dramas profess to the very last moment the promise of final victory that somehow, even if you could now smell the enemy’s armpits, the leader continues to promise some secret resource, same ace up his sleeve that will bring about a reversal of fortune. That’s comparing the unbent but bending Fuehrer with il-Kap.
Then there’s the two categories of people still in the room when the Fuehrer throws all the adjutants out before his big rant.
The ones facing him that get the dressing down are the professional soldiers — Keitl, Jodl, Krebs — the veteran politicians in our analogy. As they’re being abused and blamed they are thinking back at how long it was they had known that the end was inevitable. They understand the game and knew they could have reduced the damage by stopping the catastrophe months before. But they allowed themselves to be swept by loyalty and the soldier’s code of taking orders and not questioning their wisdom. And they bought the great hope of final victory.
Then there’s the partisans to the leader’s side — Goebbels, Bormann — the cultist supporters of Delia who even in the face of complete catastrophe continue to tell themselves their mission was in the right and that the loss only means that the people don’t deserve the fulfilment of the miracle promised by their politics.
Actually I stopped looking at these “Downfall” memes some time ago. It’s a favourite movie of mine and it makes me sad that Bruno Gantz’s extraordinary performance, particularly in that scene, has been ruined now for everyone. You can’t really watch the film without giggling at one of its gravest milestones.
But take a broader view of the scenes in the Fuehrerbunker and you’ll find even more parallels.
There’s been a lot of talk about Nickie Vella de Fremeaux’s mental health and a lot of defensive gossip to try to pin the allegations her husband is facing because “she’s crazy”.
You look at Adrian Delia’s behaviour the last few days and you have to say ‘boss, this is nuts’.
The old adage goes ‘those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad’. I’m not into gods and fate, but the reading of the symptoms is inescapable.
Leaders of political parties who speak of wars, of the perishing of enemies, of invoking the wrath of God on political dissenters, of treason and of retribution have truly lost any hope of leading their party anywhere but to the ground. Adrian Delia as the last Targaryen promising to break the wheel.
Like Hitler’s orders, there’s now a scorched earth instruction coming out of the office of the leader of the PN. ‘If I’m to go down, this whole thing must go down with me’.
That there — the idea that the fortunes of a political party are indivisible from the miseries of its leader — is the completion of a transition that started by democratic ballot and ends in terminal tyranny.
Are we quite at the point of irrevocable collapse? Perhaps not, but must we wait until we get there?
Must those scared people around that table at the wrong end of these maniacal tirades, those professional political operatives at the receiving end of the sort of hellfire and brimstone messages from the supreme leader, wait until its too late before they move to stop this?
You can guess what they’re thinking. In the service of this black page in party history they have done things they regret. They expect that if they were to stop this madness, they would still be blamed for it and be thrown out with it.
They fear that they could never live down the ‘I told you so’s from the smug objectors who broke ranks from the very beginning or in any case earlier than now.
This is where the destiny of the PN is decided. In his current mad sense of frenetic defiance fuelled by whoever knows what, a rebellion against Adrian Delia by “the usual suspects” will feed into his narrative that “an old way” somehow nostalgic for a liberal party in the shape of Simon Busuttil is committing a coup to stop in its tracks the revolution led by Adrian Delia and chosen by the party members.
Of course this is pure spin. I know almost no one who thinks the solution for the PN is to put Simon Busuttil back as leader. The need for Adrian Delia to be removed does not arise out of a nostalgic desire for history to be reversed and for Simon Busuttil to be brought back.
The need for Adrian Delia to leave is a consequence of the pure and simple fact that he is not up to the position he is clinging to and he is a deadweight that is sinking the entire edifice to the bottom.
If there is to be a successful change — if the PN is to have
It feels unlikely, almost impossible. And maybe that is why it might turn out that Adrian Delia writes the last page in the history of the Nationalist Party, last in a line of leaders now bereft of the vigour needed to continue to exist.
But maybe these people are as committed to the values and politics and heritage of the PN as they’ve always said they are. Maybe they do believe the mission of the Nationalist Party is to resist corruption and promote good governance. Maybe their ambitions for the party is indeed greater than drunken bouts in PN clubs late at night with people whose idea of politics is limited to what they can get out of it.
If they are, they will remember that ħadd m’hu akbar mill-partit, least of all themselves or their choice for leader. They might realise that their redemption is in doing what they can to stop this madness while there’s still something that can be recovered and turned around.
If they don’t, and remain paralysed by misguided loyalty and under arresting fear like Jodl, Keitel and Krebs, they’ll still be there on the last day of Adrian Delia’s divinely inspired war to sink with the ship he is busy setting on fire.