A few people who openly supported Adrian Delia over the past three years, even through the Yorgen Fenech WhatsApp revelations, have announced they are quitting party structures after Saturday’s result that saw him replaced as party leader.
There could be perfectly honourable reasons for quitting at this time. Many things were said in the past three years that cannot be unsaid. Louise Tedesco had written an article last July describing campaigners for justice for Daphne – “the barra brigade” – as quixotic. Adopting wholesale the Labour Party’s spin she conflated the PN’s own struggle against corruption before Adrian Delia became party leader with the effort picked up by civil society organisations after Daphne was killed.
That didn’t age well. This bunch of Don Quixotes (as she called them, us) was not fighting immovable windmills, as things turned out. Say barra often enough and Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Chris Cardona, Lawrence Cutajar, Peter Grech and Silvio Valletta are forced out. Even Adrian Delia.
I think a veteran of such a grotesque political miscalculation has no honourable way out but to quit. After all they not only found themselves mistaken on tactical choices. Rather they realised they were used to obstruct the struggle for justice by those who would have survived in politics had the struggle failed.
Louise Tedesco writing that piece may have thought she was helping Adrian Delia’s cause. But in reality she was helping Joseph Muscat’s. Fortunately she failed.
There’s another honourable reason to leave. For three years people in senior ranks of the PN were accused of treason, rebellion and betrayal: not just against the party leader but against the party’s members – the oft-cited tesserati – whose will was being undemocratically defied.
As it turns out the mutiny was being perpetrated by the former leader and his supporters. Adrian Delia’s supporters proved totally mistaken about the support their leader enjoyed among the party members. They elected themselves speakers for majority rule all the time speaking for a rapidly shrinking minority.
The scale of the majority of party members that was keen on Adrian Delia’s departure proved to be greater than the majorities in the parliamentary group, the party executive and the party’s general council. The rebels weren’t rebels then. They spoke for the many until the many spoke for themselves.
Having relied for so long on what they perceived to be “the will of the members”, Adrian Delia’s supporters may feel they have no choice but to bow out now they realise they had interpreted that will so wrongly. I’m not saying it’s what they should do. I’m saying it should not be surprising if their sense of decency forces them to.
However, none of the people quitting over the last 24 hours have articulated these reasons. Humble pie is a rare dish indeed.
I feel no pleasure in their pain, no delight in their suffering. And I find the gloating of some people at their expense distasteful. Ultimately the chances of the Nationalist Party of ever becoming what presumably both sides want it to be – a viable challenger to Labour – will rely on people getting over themselves and understand that this isn’t about them at all.
I do not criticise people for quitting party politics, even if they do so for petty reasons. After all many people enter party politics for petty reasons in the first place. Also people are not ‘traitors’ for switching party allegiance or for having no allegiance at all. Many people tend to forget this, but it’s a free country, or so it should be.
My only hope is party and country learn something from this. It’s not about the leader. It’s not about the colours. It’s not about the cult. If you forget that parties exist to serve the country and make it a better place, rather than to fit in your expectations of who should do what when and where, then you’re not in party politics: you’re in a social club.
We have enough of those.