Pierre Portelli is right. The Nationalist Party is not a bunch of bloggers that believe they have some claim on the party. It most certainly isn’t.

His statement on Facebook of today is a whiff of grapeshot that upgrades the case for Adrian Delia’s defence from the character witnesses — his law office partner of many years, his brother in law — and shift it to the political realm.

First the Deputy Prime Minister, no less, made Labour’s case rebuffing any expectation that the leader of the PN should resign while defending himself in court from allegations of domestic abuse. From the Robert Musumecis and the Jeffrey Pullicino Orlandos of this world, we have gone up several notches now.

Chris Fearne thinks Adrian Delia should stay on, at least until some court convicts him of something. That’s not any garden variety opinion. No reason for hilarity like Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando’s absurd analysis today that behind all the pressure on Adrian Delia is Richard Cachia Caruana. Clearly old fantasies die hard.

But from Chris Fearne we have official Labour Party policy. In their view a politician should not be expected to resign merely on the back of allegations of violence made by their spouses. It’s just too little to go on. Give the chap a break.

Later Kristy Debono answered the question on how should women MPs, who campaigned so determinedly for reforms on the prevention of and appropriate action against domestic violence, deal with these allegations against Adrian Delia.

She was the first woman to speak and though I am usually blind to the gender of the person speaking in this case the fact that she is a woman is significant.

Kristy Debono also thinks that in spite of the allegations of domestic violence, the matter of Adrian Delia’s separation is both private and irrelevant to the exercise of his functions. So she thinks everyone should shut up about it. Give the man a break.

Her intervention is even more significant because she is the only woman MP to have spoken about the matter so far. Everyone else is silent which must mean they agree with her.

As Pierre Portelli starkly points out today the political class is unanimous. It is a cross-party consensus between front and back bench, new and old way, opposition and government: Adrian Delia should stay on.

Of course like others I hear the private rumblings of some MPs that would say they’re not enthusiastic with the line. But having a political opinion which you keep to yourself is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but nobody else does. Private mutterings don’t count. Only public statements do and the ones we heard from the political community is that when one of their own is accused of domestic violence we should not talk about it until and unless one is convicted.


Then there are the ‘bunch of bloggers’ Pierre Portelli speaks about who seem to pretend they have some right to tell Adrian Delia or the PN what to do.

Let’s see. Who might he be referring to?

Ramona Depares wrote a blog on timesofmalta.com today. She thinks other people who have called for Adrian Delia to resign have their own unspecified, though implicitly nefarious interests. However, she does agree with them that his position is untenable. As Pierre Portelli explicitly points out she should have no say in the matter.

Christian Peregin on his Lovin Malta was never ambiguous in his writings the last week or so. Adrian Delia should go. But why, as Pierre Portelli explains, should his blog have any say in the matter?

You will be familiar with the views of the author on this matter. I’m not sure if Pierre Portelli’s use of the indigenous phrase “erba’ bloggers” was a suggestion I push ahead with my diet and exercise and I can’t be sure I was a consideration in his use of the phrase.

But I am quite sure there’s something deeper in that turn of phrase.

It is a rehash of another phrase the boss he is now defending used during his campaign and that he will always remain famous for: “biċċa blogger”.

That speech too had said that a journalist from outside the party should not presume to decide what the agenda of the party should be. And that presumption — presumed by the speaker and his followers to exist — must be excoriated.

Herein lies a clear confusion of roles and here is the point up to which Pierre Portelli is right.

What leader the Nationalist Party chooses to support is a matter for the Nationalist Party to decide. No one’s opinion about their choice changes that simple fact.

It is the role of the party members and leaders to make the right choices and to then face the consequences of their decisions with the electorate. Make the analogy with a private business. If I go to a restaurant and the chef there cannot make an omelette to save his life, I cannot as a customer fire the chef and replace him with someone better. That’s really up to the owner of the restaurant.

But that doesn’t stop me from telling anyone who cares to listen what crap food they have in that restaurant. And it doesn’t stop those who decide to take my review seriously from withholding their custom from that restaurant and, if there’s enough of them, bankrupt its owner.

The owner must make a calculated bet. Is the critic I am ignoring influential enough to keep customers away from my business?

These biċċa bloggers, or erba’ bloggers, are nothing more than restaurant critics for the political scene. That’s what journalists and opinion writers do. They assess what they see and speak about it to those prepared to listen to them. There are good critics and bad ones as much as there are good restaurants and bad ones. Some critics acquire credibility over time because readers learn to trust their judgement. And some critics never get off the ground.

Like the restaurant, the political party really has a simple choice: get your act together and get raving reviews to grow your business, or shoot critics on sight and enjoy your autonomy of choice all the way to bank repossession.

So, sure, Pierre Portelli is right. Who are we outsiders to make the choice for the PN on whether someone facing accusations of domestic violence by their spouse should stay on or not? That choice is not ours. It’s the party’s, even as Pierre Portelli defines it (its members, volunteers as well as its employees and leaders). All we can do is say what we think and heaven knows we do not come with a warranty that we are right.

Then one day voters will decide what sort of prime minister they want to run their government and what sort of political party they want to make choices about who should run the country. And maybe then Pierre Portelli and Kristy Debono and all the other silent leaders who share their views today will be able to smugly tell us all, erba’ biċċiet bloggers, how right they were to ignore us.