The vote of the PN parliamentary group two days ago could have happened a year ago, even two. It could have happened before Adrian Delia was elected party leader in September 2017. The day before that ballot, then party leader Simon Busuttil did his final act in office: he publicly advised Adrian Delia to quit the race.
We have gone over the reasons a dizzying number of times. He was caught lying many times. His financial standing makes no sense. He has a poor grasp of public policy. He is rightly suspected of having laundered money for a criminal activity in the past. All this was known before he was elected. The only credit he could cash on election date was that he was ‘new’, that he had not served a day in politics before he made a pitch for the very top job in the organisation. That should have been seen as bad news. It proved to be.
Now he’s lying again. Having repeatedly denied communicating with Yorgen Fenech after the 17 Black revelations, we learnt that he did stay in touch with Yorgen Fenech.
That was bad enough but more happened since.
As he had done when the Soho story came out, he attacked the journalist and the newspaper that published the story accusing Jacob Borg and Times of Malta of conspiring to oust him: conspiring with his enemies in the party? Conspiring with the police? Conspiring with Labour? Adrian Delia, as always, was vague on detail. But he was crystal clear in the lynching of those in his way.
More. As he had done when news he was the subject of a criminal investigation came out, he went to the police filing a frivolous complaint in order to dilute his faults with his accusations on others.
More. After the vote of confidence did materialise; after he lost it, crushingly; when it became clear that his staying put is the shortest way to breaking the Nationalist Party apart and ending its 140 years of history; he still did not care. He’s still there.
Sum up those five points then. He communicated with someone known to bribe politicians. He lied brazenly about it. He harassed journalists and tried to squeeze their sources out of them. He abused his authority and mobilised the police against his enemies. He ignored his colleagues and imposed his will on his team against anyone’s and everyone’s advice.
If he didn’t have the credit rating of a bug-infested hobo under a bridge, you would ask of him the classic test of a political candidate: ‘would you buy a second hand car from this man?’ The fact is a second hand car salesman would not sell him one. Every day that goes by, everyone of Adrian Delia’s grand gestures, including the waxing melodramatic and the castrato arias as he ties himself to a stake crackling in imaginary fire, his unsuitability for any form of public service is confirmed.
Many of my friends now feel better about the PN parliamentary group for having shed the pretence of supporting Adrian Delia when he was so self-evidently inappropriate. At least now, the majority of the PN parliamentary group has come clean with the public and formally separated from Adrian Delia. They’re past the point of no return and they have shed the burden of inconvenient hypocrisy. They can now speak their mind at last.
I have no criticism for their decision. They did what they had to do. And they did all they could do, at least up till now. But let’s not kid ourselves. They haven’t solved the problem.
Adrian Delia’s lunacy will not be cured by this. If he had enough good sense to resign now, he’d have had enough good sense to resign far sooner; he’d have had the good sense not to run at all. He’s hell bent on destroying the party. Even now people still think ‘it can’t be that bad’. Even now people still hope he’ll see sense, and that if not, his supporters will come around and abandon him.
But a siege mentality has set in a long time ago. And now there’s also the private realisation that there’s no way out. So now Adrian Delia will squat, stretching out his days as long as possible, causing as much damage as possible for as long as he can.
It is sad that all those people who profess undying love for the Nationalist Party do not realise just how much Adrian Delia hates it. He hates the Nationalist Party for not appreciating his greatness the way he does. He hates it for not deserving him. He hates it for not fulfilling his own fantasies of himself facing tens of thousands shouting his name. He hates the Nationalist Party for not doing to him what they had done for Eddie and his other successors.
He hates the Nationalist Party and since even he realises he is no longer in a position to wield it and drive it where he wants it to go, he will use the only power he has left: the power to destroy it.
A party with two rival leaders; a schism in its parliamentary group; legal quibbles about constitutional and party rules; the potential of having the 19 people who voted him out fired from the Nationalist Party altogether: all these are now very probable developments.
Adrian Delia – the accomplice of the Labour Party; the get-away car driver of Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech; the smoke exhaled by Joseph Muscat to hide the country’s ship in fog – Adrian Delia is not done yet.
I’ve seen the comment somewhere that at this point we can no longer rule out the idea that Adrian Delia is a Labour Party plant. These are the people that needed to hear Melvyn Theuma’s tapes before they would accept that Joseph Muscat’s office had something to do with Daphne’s murder. These are the people that need corruption to dance naked on their noses before they accept that something is not quite right.
If you realised now that Adrian Delia was a plant of the corrupt interests that continue to benefit from his mad kingdom, you were not reading Daphne’s blog the summer he was running for office. You were holding on to your cherished neutrality, looking for the other side of the story, when she was writing hers.
Upon his election Adrian Delia decided he was not elected by 7,000 people to work on persuading 170,000 to choose him as prime minister; he decided his was not a nomination for a much more important race; he decided instead this was it.
He ruled his office like a decadent tyrant. His alcohol-fuelled screaming bouts with his staff; the mind-games he played on them; the threats of unjustified dismissal even to his closest advisors in the presence of junior staff: they were power-games of a power-mad tinpot dictator.
He didn’t mind raising questions he did not bother to answer. On some occasions he would come in to the office in the middle of the day with a bag full of cash giving instructions to his staffers on how they should be deposited into his several personal accounts. The money would not be accounted for, its provenance never explained.
Many of his personal staff left, some within the very first weeks and months of his term of office. In September 2017 they joined the staff of the new PN leader thinking they were walking into a new Camelot, a fresh start for the party they loved. They were first alienated by the chaos in the office. There were no fixed working times. No diary of appointments was possible. Visitors would be told to come at random times and left waiting for hours until they lost patience and left. He would vanish for entire chunks of the day without any sign of where he’s gone or when he’s coming back.
His tantrums, his dramatic arias, his petty fights and furious diatribes were reserved to times of great pressure. One time, as an entire general council waited for his appearance downstairs, he spent hours pitying himself in his office. He treated his party with contempt because as he saw it, he was the party.
Policy discussions were rare, distracted, incoherent and unproductive. The Dar Ċentrali was no longer ‘fejn ninsġu l-ideat’ as the nostalgic might remember it describing itself. Instead it became a bundle of confusion and pointless effort.
His posse of thugs had open access to the office. On his instructions his ‘friends’ were not to give account of themselves at the building’s reception desk and walked straight by the staff into his office, barging in as if it was theirs. His staffers were never clear on what these people did for the party leader. But they had their suspicions.
The acrimonious breakdown of his marriage was celebrated in the presence of his embarrassed staff. They then had to follow the spectacle of his latter-day bachelorship and his new romance, famously consummated on the floor of the office of the leader of Malta’s second largest political party. Thanks to him, by a great distance.
In the presence of others, he called Joseph Muscat on WhatsApp to ask for favours, including the classic type of favours of a local constituency office like someone’s job promotion in the civil service. To people who saw him do this it came as no surprise to learn that last week he visited Robert Abela asking him to restrain criticism of embarrassing friendships with Yorgen Fenech. He was pleading for himself.
His conduct, his temperament and his behaviour are still perceived as refreshing by people who simply do not know what is required of a prime minister. The charges of snobbery follow quickly. It is reminiscent of Joseph Muscat saying he preferred to go to Burger King than to attend a state dinner. He did not say that because it’s true. He said it because a certain type of people like him for saying it. They could never see a state dinner from the inside so the idea of a party boss who would not go to a state dinner makes him one of them. Adrian Delia took this base, Mintoffian logic, and wrote it large all over his term of office.
Right now, one of the 19 MPs is weighing the decision whether to take from Adrian Delia the job of leader of opposition. It would seem like an inevitable decision after the vote of two days ago. But there are reasons why it is not an easy decision.
If the Nationalist Party is to become a functional opposition (never mind an alternative government) the new leader of the opposition needs to wrest the authority over the party from Adrian Delia. The process may prove completely destructive and the damage to the viability of the PN irreversible. Someone considering the job today will know just how slim their chances of success are. Because unlike Adrian Delia they have genuine commitment to the PN, their hesitation is understandable. They do not want to be responsible for the party’s definitive end. No one will blame them but that doesn’t matter. A responsible person would blame themselves.
Someone looking at accepting today the job of Opposition Leader will understand that the likelihood of failure is high. They must also understand, if they can bring themselves to do so, that the certainty of the party’s destruction is guaranteed if Adrian Delia is allowed to stay one more day in the position of Opposition Leader.
The potential candidate will know they have what it takes to be a good party leader, a good opposition leader and a good prime minister. What they will be wondering today is if they have what it takes to starve Adrian Delia of his remaining support. Ultimately, to ensure legitimacy the new opposition leader must become party leader and end once and for all the myth that Adrian Delia is wanted by the party faithful.
Adrian Delia has always been party leader merely in name. The rhetoric of his leadership campaign was about wresting the party from the hands of others. It was always a mission to exclude. He created the faction in the party that would support him and sought to leave anyone outside it out of the party altogether. He did not lead the party as much as he split it and broke it apart.
For now, Adrian Delia remains, in name, party leader. The new opposition leader must aspire to first become party leader in all but name. Around them the party must congregate and coagulate, find again that they can work with people they don’t like, learn how to think less of themselves and more of the objective.
Adrian Delia’s complete inadequacy, coupled of course with the parasitic corruption and the pestilence of rotten politics from the Labour Party, has rightly forced many of us to become unwilling judges. We too must learn to live without constant indignation. No successor of Adrian Delia will be an unblemished Messiah. There will be things we don’t like about them. They will make mistakes along the way. Just as Eddie Fenech Adami did. And all his successors.
We must learn again to wear our critical faculties with patience. We must understand again compromise and imperfection. Only then can we aspire to achievable greatness. Only then can we hope that politics, political parties, even government, become once more a force for good in this country.
A new, imperfect, opposition leader, should make us hope for that. And ‘us’ includes those who today confuse their commitment to the Nationalist Party with an unquestioning loyalty to Adrian Delia just because officially he’s its leader.
Therefore, the new candidate must search in themselves the ability of persuading those harridans who called them traitor two nights ago outside the party’s headquarters that they too need to switch sides if they truly want what they’ve been claiming: a united party, ready and equipped to expose corruption in others starting by excoriating it from within itself.
Decisions are taken by those who show up. It’s time to stop telling Adrian Delia to leave. It’s time to go on without him.