Andrew Borg Cardona needs no defending. More often than not I need him to defend me from touchy politicians who sue me for libel or lying politicians whom I sue myself. He does it for free. If he didn’t, I would have stopped doing this a long time ago. I’m not the only internet hack or hackette he gives his time and knowledge to. It’s safe to say that much of what you read in the less established media is there thanks to Andrew Borg Cardona’s willingness to defend your right to read it.
As you can imagine – and if you cannot, you should wonder why – someone who spends chunks of his billable hours working for free to defend free speech, will himself speak freely. His lashings have hurt the corrupt, the incompetent and the uncouth for decades and for that he’s had the privilege of being the target of One TV news coverage countless times.
That generates the raw material that comes in handy in the sort of cancel culture that is so pervasive on our social media, especially Facebook where angry lynch mobs run around grasping bloody pitch forks looking for someone to drag to the nearest tree.
It’s Andrew Borg Cardona’s week to be paraded on the tumbril.
Andrew Borg Cardona said something on his Facebook account distinguishing the people in the Nationalist Party who think Adrian Delia is not viable as a party leader, from those who think he’s the Messiah.
He used the word tier which fed the mock shock of pretend-egalitarians who went into convulsions of hypocritical apoplexia at the sight of misrepresented taboo. For tier they read ‘class’ and for reading ‘class’ they sought to ‘cancel’ Andrew Borg Cardona and his right to exist. In this country, that is still hung up on the class hatred of the Mintoff decades, the term ‘class’ retains Pygmalion connotations of toffs and toughs, upstairs and downstairs and British resentful nostalgia from Room at the top, Saturday night and Sunday morning and Kes.
There are social inequalities in this country, ever-widening ones. But the layer cake analogy is misleading and inapplicable to party politics. If there’s an organisation that has managed to overcome all other cleavages in our society, or at least peacefully co-exist with them, that is the PN: a political party that for a hundred years has managed or stayed closed to managing to mobilise the voting support of a majority of the population in opposition to the Labour Party.
If the PN “establishment”, as they call it, was truly classist, it would simply not exist. The classicism these latter day Graysons speak of exists only in the imagination of those who need to justify their own inadequacies by creating a caste system to which they appoint themselves in the rank of untouchables.
The simple fact of the matter is that anyone who would allow me the privilege of calling them my friend could never be ‘classist’, in this Pre-Raphaelite meaning of the term, let alone tolerate my company. I’m born in the wrong side of Sliema to a Labour family whose first language is Maltese, married to a foreigner of similar, ehem, class background and now live in Mqabba earning a modest living writing. If I’m in, anyone can be.
Incidentally Andrew Borg Cardona was born on the same side of Sliema I was and as with everything to do with class, I have no idea what that means.
The point about the last remaining pockets of support in the Nationalist Party for Adrian Delia is not that they belong to some disdainful proletariat that the posh feel entitled to look down upon. They are indeed a class of their own, but social status or standing have nothing to do with it.
They are a class, or if you prefer a category, a division, a grade, a group, a kind, a level, a rank, a tier, a section of people whose sense of judgement is such as to make them exceptional. Exceptional in thinking that Adrian Delia has any place leading the Nationalist Party.
This is hardly about what Ċensu l-Iswed or Terry ta’ Bormla look or speak like. It’s about the ability of those shouting Adrian Delia’s name like he was manna from heaven to make an informed judgement about what a party leader is supposed to do.
There are no social, or even cultural, impediments to make a competent value judgement about elected office. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has the inclination, the intellectual willingness or capacity, the educational preparedness and the innate and dispassionate sense of judgement to make an informed choice.
I am not suggesting that people need to pass some exam to be entitled to vote or to sign up as party activists and claim the right to choose a party leader. As someone once said, democracy is the worst political system except for all the others. And the man who said it was truly elitist though he was perfectly capable of fighting his corner on behalf of his entire nation no matter the social rank of those behind him.
I sincerely believe that with all my disagreement with them, I would much rather live in a society where Ċensu l-Iswed and Terry ta’ Bormla have the right to vote and be politically active, than in a society where they didn’t. Andrew Borg Cardona’s indefatigable defence of civil rights and free speech testify to his agreement with me on this.
Disagreeing with Adrian Delia’s supporters is not the same as being in contempt of them or thinking they are less entitled to be politically active. It is their force-fed and misguided belief that that is the case that has put us in the mess we’re in and likely won’t ever let us emerge from it.
Politicians in a democracy need to attract all sorts, even those without the intellectual faculties to make an informed choice. They need to give them different reasons to support them. No matter who you are, if you’re running for office you’d always rather Ċensu l-Iswed and Terry ta’ Bormla voted for you than if they didn’t. There’s no winning elections with the smart alone.
But when politicians in a democracy attract only the support of those who are unable to know better, it is perfectly legitimate for the rest of us to make the observation Andrew Borg Cardona made.
His observation was that the majority of members of parliament and the majority of members of the party’s executive committee, and other veterans of the party who came out of retirement to make the point are a category of people that are well prepared to express an informed and competent view about Adrian Delia. As the witticism of someone on Facebook went, it is a strange day indeed when you’re told that Lawrence Gonzi and Tonio Borg are the rebels.
The other categories should make note of that and have a think about the example they are being given by people in whom they placed their trust in the past. They should not let the electoral losses in 2013 and 2017 mislead them. Those electoral losses were an inherent part of the electoral cycle, something a party in reasonable shape could still come back from. But the present disaster is something else altogether. This is a knell that summons the PN to hell.
Adrian Delia’s supporters are under no obligation to follow what Lawrence Gonzi tells them. They didn’t have that obligation when he was party leader, let alone now. But it would make a nice change if for once they stop to remember why they trusted the Nationalist Party. It would make a nice change if they thought a little before shouting someone’s name just because they’re there.
The toxicity that is poisoning the air and the water, was planted in the Nationalist Party by Joseph Muscat. Let’s give credit where credit is due. And yes, as some have been arguing for the opposite reasons than mine, I too think the malaise in the Nationalist Party started far earlier than when Adrian Delia came on the scene.
Before Joseph Muscat, the Labour Party media would be highly critical of Jesmond Mugliett, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Robert Musumeci, Franco Debono and their self-confessed father confessor John Dalli. Joseph Muscat saw the opportunity of driving a wedge within the Nationalist Party creating the myth of ‘the establishment’ and transforming the former targets of the Labour Party into heroic martyrs.
Adrian Delia’s 2017 campaign stretched that notion to the extreme. The heroic martyr would become party leader. He would climb on the Nationalist Party like the Red Army soldier on the ruins of the Reichstag. Adrian Delia roared about “taking the party back” though it was never clear who was holding it from him.
He got there almost three years ago and all he did in all the time since is indulge in the extended pogrom that started on his election. And now the Nationalist Party is just its leader, his flag and the pile of ruins on which he stands. Throw out the majority of MPs and the majority of executive committee members and a large minority of party members – perhaps more — and what have you left? Not enough to win an election. Not enough to pay salaries to the end of the year. Not enough to survive.
Adrian Delia’s last remaining supporters have been persuaded they have been given a fragile entitlement to a political party that is dying to kick them out. When in reality all they have in their possession is a political party that is dying.
Ċensu l-Iswed and Terry ta’ Bormla supported the Nationalist Party way before the existence of Adrian Delia had been revealed to them. And yet now they’ve been made to believe their engagement with “their” political party is precariously held by the thread that keeps Adrian Delia in his office.
I speak of Ċensu l-Iswed and Terry ta’ Bormla because they’re particularly colourful but clearly (or at least here I am making it clear) this is not about the two individuals known by those monikers. It’s about all those cackling wives, more men than women, knitting at the steps of the scaffold purpose built by the Labour Party for the execution of the party those shouting Adrian Delia’s name say they support.
These defendants of Adrian Delia’s myth of coarse egalitarianism would rather believe this issue is about social ranking. They want to over-simplify a cultural complexity that is beyond their capacity to comprehend. But even so their imagination is vivid enough to forge the imaginary social barriers as rigidly as real ones and make them just as impenetrable.
Such as the idea that there can never be a political party in which they can co-exist with Andrew Borg Cardona and what they believe he represents.
It took 140 years for the Nationalist Party to build the complex alliances between Catholics and liberals, Italianates and Anglophiles, urban middle class and peasantry, English-speakers and Maltese-speakers, islanders and mainlanders, conservationists and industrialists, flag-wavers and floaters and shop-keepers and manufacturers that allowed the PN to be a major political force in the country’s history: transformative and able to transform itself.
It took 3 years and a little help from that unseen sapper Joseph Muscat, for Adrian Delia to break it all up. Perhaps for good.
They think they’re cancelling Andrew Borg Cardona. They’re cancelling the party they profess to support.