The Executive Committee of the Nationalist Party meets tonight. It is being convened on the orders of the party’s leader Adrian Delia. He is convening a committee that has declared in a secret vote that it has no confidence in him. And yet he is charging ahead, putting on the agenda an item called “concrete actions”, a phrase pregnant with the implication of retribution and revenge.
Tonight’s meeting follows a rather hollow meeting he called yesterday of the PN’s parliamentary group. The great majority stayed away from the meeting, and Therese Comodini Cachia only showed up briefly to speak on behalf of the absent. There is nothing this parliamentary group can discuss before Adrian Delia sets a date for his departure. Ostensibly the group was called to speak about Melvyn Theuma. But I doubt the subject even came up in the empty room of that rump group of people who are barely aware of what’s happening outside their very small universe.
If it weren’t for this issue, the PN’s parliamentary group yesterday would have been agreeing on a focused strategy on how to address the ongoing meltdown in our justice system. It is significant that MPs like Beppe Fenech Adami yesterday continued their work as Opposition MPs standing up to government in Parliament and elsewhere.
Beppe Fenech Adami yesterday called on Byron Camilleri’s resignation demanding he assumed political responsibility for the state’s failure to protect its most important witness in the most important criminal trial for the last half a century. That’s while Adrian Delia focused his political attention on everyone but the government asking us not to draw conclusions about the theatrical developments of the last 48 hours.
More on Melvyn Theuma in a different post.
The point here is that the Nationalist Party has now crystallised its own paralysis. At least the pretence has dropped.
I am annoyed at people who have spent the last two years criticising Nationalist MPs for not standing up to Adrian Delia and now that they have, speak with ambivalent neutrality about what’s going on within the party.
People who now call for a truce between the the two sides of this civil war, who remind both sides that they have an obligation to overcome their differences and seek unity, have clearly not understood what’s at stake here.
There is no future for the Nationalist Party that does not now uproot Adrian Delia and cast him out completely. Any possible space for compromise has been torched by Adrian Delia himself. On many occasions he was given opportunities to negotiate a peaceful exit which could have allowed him some sort of role. But his destructive behaviour, the ease with which he harms the party in order to protect himself and his inability to lead even his closest allies and supporters disqualifies him.
Adrian Delia’s colours are not untypical of a certain type of politician we have come to loathe in this country: the me-first, me-above-all-else type. He has turned the maxim that ‘no one is greater than the party’ to mean the opposite of what that phrase intends. It is supposed to mean that not even the leader is more important than the party’s interests. But he has made the party’s interests mean his own, and his own have become the party’s.
Protesters last November and December, me included, appealed to Labour parliamentarians to use the mandate they had to govern as a force for good, to throw out Joseph Muscat and his cabal and govern without them. We criticised them for being too concerned with how their party would look if it would openly admit disagreement and we rightly expressed horror when in spite of all that was known about Joseph Mucat by then they unanimously supported him.
We said, then, that that is not how democracy should work. That circumstances change and democracy requires leaders to change with them. That it did not matter what electoral result placed a politician in a position of power, if they were acting outside the rules they should leave or be made to leave if they refused to.
Even Joseph Muscat bowed to pressure at the end.
There’s nothing to admire in Adrian Delia’s pathological stubbornness. Whatever he may believe there is nothing heroic about squatting in a loveless marriage for years inflicting harm on everyone around you just so you can make the point that you weren’t the one to leave.
Not taking the hint when you’re unwanted at work or in business is no admirable conduct either. It is the act of persisting in a dangerous falsehood. It is harmful and hurtful of others. And it reaches no end but disaster.
Therefore Adrian Delia’s spectacle of drawn-out immolation is nothing to be admired. There’s a reason why most people would not do what he’s doing for anywhere near as long as he’s doing it. It’s not because most people are weaker than Adrian Delia. It’s because most people have a firmer grip on reality than he does.
Adrian Delia’s bet tonight is that executive committee members will let him inflict more damage on those who stand in his way. It’s not an unreasonable assumption. Francis Zammit Dimech followed his instructions to start disciplinary proceedings against the party’s youth wing for daring to call for Adrian Delia’s departure. That, I fear, is a mistake and I’ll give my reasons why.
If the PN’s youth wing had made a statement which goes contrary to party values, then a disciplinary process is reasonable. Let us say they made a statement calling for racial segregation or capital punishment. But a view expressed by a party branch about the party’s leadership is firmly within that branch’s rights. If a party organ is forbidden from expressing a view about the conduct of the party or its leadership then there is no need for its committee to be elected; they should instead be employed and get their instructions from the party leader directly, implementing them without question.
That argument applies to the Secretary General as well. Francis Zammit Dimech is not an appointee of Adrian Delia and does not work for him. He should not be following instructions that are outside the leader’s authority. Nor, of course, is the executive committee.
We often say about ordinary citizens that most do not realise the power that they hold; that if only they knew they were under no obligation to obey, ordinary people could bring about change. It is clear to me that the same applies to activists in our large political parties. Executive committee members need to realise that they hold the key to the outcome they desire; they have the power to say no; it is up to them to decide on concrete action and that concretely what they need to do is to tell Adrian Delia were to go stuff himself.
At this point it hardly matters what Adrian Delia thinks his powers should be. He’s dead in the water. All he banks on is that not everyone quite sees that yet.