Adrian Delia’s act of schoolyard bullying from this morning has to be some sort of turning point. For everyone else, if not for him.
In an earlier piece, I wrote how Adrian Delia compared the investigations into his Soho affairs with the evidence planted on Pietru Pawl Busuttil’s farm to frame him for the murder of Raymond Caruana. That may be desperation speaking as the red-hot pincers held by the Labour Party around his testicles are squeezed harder.
But the man is known to walk around with fantasies rolling inside his head and they often harken back to those heady days on the eve of the 1987 elections when he was 16 and politics, it seems, held a poorly informed fascination for him not unlike Princess Leia’s slave girl outfit might have had on the haunted dreams of a pubescent child of the 1980s.
This morning he burst open the doors to the Mellieħa PN club. Well, I say burst open. He used the keys. Because the building itself technically remains the property of the party he is leader of. He fancied himself bringing down the walls of Jericho but the crashing boulders and the billowing dust rolled only inside the self-worshipping fantasy bubbling in his mind.
The committee that administers the Mellieħa PN club, elected directly by and from among card carrying members of the party who vote in Mellieħa, thought it was a bad idea for Adrian Delia to deliver his speech from there. They could foresee that Adrian Delia would use their club to fire torpedoes against their own party and as it turned out they were right.
Having complete disregard for the democratic structures of the party he ignored their pleas and went to do his thing anyway. In his mind this involved some form of heroic courage. I’ve seen Facebook posts from those still drinking from his toxic aura that admired his ‘determination’, his ‘courage’, his ‘fearlessness’.
The language is obviously reminiscent of Eddie Fenech Adami marching resolutely down Triq tal-Barrani in 1987 stout as a Jedi knight facing overwhelming numbers, wearing a bullet proof vest, smelling the teargas canisters and fully expecting the violence his party was rewarded with for daring to convene a meeting in the wrong village.
But Adrian Delia chooses his opponents. I know many of the committee members of Mellieħa PN. Good guys who have been in the party for all their lives. People who gave their waking hours to the movement they believed in. Some of them veterans of the struggle in the 1980s.
Today they were marked as the enemy Adrian Delia sought to defeat and crush under his mighty thumb.
As he chooses his enemies carefully, Adrian Delia chooses his friends. After his spittle and bluster at the Mellieħa PN club he did some pub crawling and stopped among friends drinking at the Mellieħa Labour Party club where he was unanimously celebrated and feted and where he needed to face no controversy about whether he should remain party leader.
But let’s rewind to his speech at the PN club. Adrian Delia spoke, rather oddly, about his critics in the PN rejecting the ‘reforms’ he has brought about.
From the Times of Malta’s report of this speech: Dr Delia said the party reform had been launched but blamed “a certain faction” from preventing new faces to join the party. “Now we will not only carry out a reform but an entire revolution as this is what the country needs. I have been asked to take decisions and will do so,” he said.
OK, let’s break that down for a minute. ‘Dr Delia said the party reform had been launched.’ Had you heard of this reform before now? What is it? What does it say? What has been reformed? What changes have been made or even proposed? Is Adrian Delia referring to Louis Galea’s reports on suggested changes? Has this been completed? Has it been presented? To whom? Has anyone objected to anything it says? Or is there some other reform we’re not aware of?
Then after defending the ‘reform’ from its critics he proceeds immediately to declare it is unsuitable. Indeed, he throws it out of the window and says a ‘revolution’ is necessary in place of the rejected reform. Again, Adrian Delia is skint on details.
Then he proceeds to say something else. “A certain faction is preventing new faces to join the party.” Who? When? Is anyone aware of anyone who ‘tried to join the party’ and was somehow not allowed? Who are these new faces? Surely, he doesn’t consider Robert Arrigo, David Agius and Clyde Puli as new faces. I don’t mean to suggest that just because they’re not new they’re not valid. But Adrian Delia can’t be referring to them as new, surely.
I’m merely asking if Adrian Delia is here speaking of his own face, the only new face I am aware of that has emerged in the Nationalist Party since June 2017.
Then there’s another bit of the speech that puts into serious doubt whether Adrian Delia bothered to even prepare himself for the arguments he needs to save his own political skin.
Again from the Times of Malta’s coverage: “We must declare our loyalty to the Nationalist Party, yes or no. I want to be one of the 17 [the number of parliamentary group members who called on him to consider his position], yes or no. I want to be loyal to our emblem, yes or no. I want to be loyal to the country, yes or no.” “Who says yes, let’s start working from tomorrow. Who says no, we will still remain here,” Dr Delia said.
This is an odd one. It seems that Adrian Delia no longer contests the fact that a majority of his parliamentary group does not support his leadership. That admission, apart from anything else, makes his position as leader of the opposition constitutionally untenable.
And then the bit that I think is the irrevocably damaging quote of this Trumpian piece of tragic bluster: “From now the real work starts. Everybody must decide whether to help or leave. I have no problem working with anybody. Who has a problem working with me also has a problem with the PN,” he added.
‘From now the real works starts.’ What has he been doing all this time?
The ominous warning is that he is getting ready to take the whip away from MPs elected in 2017 on the PN ticket. I am informed this has been actively discussed on WhatsApp Groups of mid-ranking party officials who discussed with Robert Arrigo the terms under which he would agree to reverse his decision to resign.
It would seem that Robert Arrigo’s resignation is not some throwing in the towel gesture. It appears on the contrary to have been a tactical resignation intended to free him and Clyde Puli from having to exercise restraint in a civil war with Adrian Delia’s critics.
Reportedly Robert Arrigo has participated in discussions and has suggested that his return to a senior position in the PN must follow the dismissal of Claudio Grech and Therese Comodini Cachia from the party.
To say that an open civil war in the PN is damaging is an understatement. A public disagreement with the Mellieħa sectional committee would have sent shockwaves any time before Adrian Delia became party leader. But a fifty/fifty split in the parliamentary group is devastating.
It also guarantees the Labour Party’s hegemony. The ongoing crisis in the PN has relieved the Labour government from any pressure or criticism. It has long been the official line of the PN not to be too hard on the government and now entire angry sermons by the PN leader are focused on his own party rather than the government he is supposed to oppose.
And Adrian Delia remains the gift that keeps on giving. It is no wonder that he continues to enjoy the sympathy and support of his rival party that sees in him their safest way to unchallenged political predominance.
Always the inveterate incompetent, Adrian Delia has whittled down the options of his critics to two. He has told them to choose between total submission to his authority or expulsion from their party. That strategy is not without its merits. The ‘17’ include people who have only switched to the camp opposed to Adrian Delia now. So far, they have flip-flopped and might just as easily flipflop back to him under threat of expulsion.
He certainly must assume he does not have to remove the whip from all 17 MPs because if he did the PN would no longer be the largest opposition party in parliament and that would then mean he’s out of a job as leader of opposition.
Some of the ‘17’ will not allow themselves to be subjected to Adrian Delia’s authority precisely because he has none. The options available to them after today’s speech then are either to allow themselves to be expelled from the party or to seek to remove Adrian Delia from it so that he does not manage to push them out.
Either way, Adrian Delia loses. He either loses the voting base of a substantial number of MPs or he loses his seat as party leader.
I have tried to understand the situation from the point of view of anyone interested in a resolution that would allow the PN to survive.
But of course, that’s not the only possible outcome. Perhaps the PN is no longer the way in which the hegemony of the Labour Party can be overcome. Perhaps the PN is too crushed under the weight of its own divisions to be of any use for our democracy any longer. Perhaps now that Adrian Delia has been elected and remains determined not to be removed, his party is condemned to a slow death barely waking from a coma, emerging briefly as his bilious rants and vicious taunts briefly penetrate consciousness only to fall back into periodic oblivion and permanent irrelevance.
Perhaps Adrian Delia will manage after all to sink his ship and with him all those who still hope it’s still worth saving.
Perhaps it is time to give our back to this tragedy and start looking for a different place where we can rekindle our hopes and dreams for the future. A place where revolutions are not reigns of terror by tin pot dictators with delusions of grandeur and a regard for themselves that is disproportionate to their abilities.
Perhaps we need to find a new political space where the revolution that matters is the growth of a nation at peace with itself, that can seek growth and progress without all the drama and where soap operas stay outside of public life and go back to where they need to be, on day time television watched by unemployed former politicians who have forgotten about Princess Leia and can only get erections when they think of themselves.