A false equivalence was created over the last few days that, as ever when that happens in a battle between right and wrong, handed the victory to the wrong. The Nationalist Party issued a statement today that reads like the Munich ‘compromise’ of 1938. The PN is proclaiming peace in our time. Yeah right.
In the garden of good and evil, Adrian Delia was weighed against Jason Azzopardi. The fact that they were put in the same weighing scales shows just how blind this process has been to any reality beyond the PN’s general inability to survive without life support.
Earlier this week, Jason Azzopardi walked out of a courtroom that had just punished an Adrian Delia crony for slandering him with the false accusation that he used prostitutes at Portomaso. Jason Azzopardi bragged. Quite how someone is supposed to have their name cleared without shouting the court’s decision from the roof-tops in their favour escapes me. Apparently, the PN’s leadership fully expected Jason Azzopardi to keep to himself the fact that a court found that he did not actually shag escorts in Yorgen Fenech’s hotel.
Because, you see, the PN wants to project a united front. And it falls on Jason Azzopardi to ensure that Adrian Delia is not irritated. It is his loyal duty to ignore the fact that the slander was published on Facebook by Ċensu l-Iswed when Jason Azzopardi was sticking his neck out to relieve this country from the horror of having Adrian Delia stay on as leader of the opposition.
No one who has ever spoken to Ċensu l-Iswed believes that Ċensu l-Iswed knows what “working girl” means or that he could write a sentence, never mind in English. I only ever spoke to Ċensu l-Iswed once when he pleaded with me on behalf of his son before a court handed down a protection order so he quit threatening me. He asked for my forgiveness to spare his son more legal trouble.
I had reported the matter to the police because Ċensu l-Iswed’s son’s threats were of serious concern for the safety of my family. Again, I invited those threats because like Jason Azzopardi I had the temerity of irritating Adrian Delia. Fortunately, no political party can order me to appease Adrian Delia or his henchmen on pain of my own dismissal.
For that is my assessment of what happened over the last 24 hours. The PN’s leadership ignored the slander that Jason Azzopardi shags escorts. All it was concerned with was that Jason Azzopardi was supposed to take that lying down or when he was vindicated by a court shut up about it. All they wanted Jason Azzopardi to do was avoid poking the dragon.
He didn’t. So the dragon, fuelled by whatever it is he had with dinner yesterday, flamed his ire all over Facebook to the delight of the popcorn-munching reporters at One TV. There was a line in that Facebook post by Adrian Delia that is so exquisitely ironic. He was reacting to Jason Azzopardi’s announcement that he would give to charity the compensation Ċensu l-Iswed was ordered to pay him. And Adrian Delia said ‘are you going to give to charity using someone else’s money?’
I’ll spell it out for the hell of it. I do not know Ċensu l-Iswed, but his loyalty is reputed to be unshakeable. Does it go as far as paying this fine or will he be asking the true author of the offensive ‘Jason-visits-working-girls-at-Portomaso’ post to pay the €1,000 he owes Jason Azzopardi?
And, second irony. Remember one of Adrian Delia’s even finer hours, when he promised €500,000 of somebody else’s money to the Dar tal-Providenza? Let’s just say the chairty has a far better chance of getting the €500 Jason Azzopardi pledged.
Bernard Grech’s decision to call an Executive Committee for this evening was disastrous. He must have realised that at some point because Alex Perici Calascione’s diplomatic skills were wheeled in to find a formula that would allow the party to extricate itself from the commitment the party leader made on its behalf.
The fact is a meeting of the Executive Committee would have had to ask and answer the question on what to do with Adrian Delia. Quite possibly a majority would kick him out if it felt it could. But the received wisdom at PN HQ is that kicking Adrian Delia out would be unacceptably expensive in terms of overall support enjoyed by the party. The basis for that view is unclear, but what matters is Bernard Grech and many others around him believe it.
Someone might have had the idea of sweetening the pill for Adrian Delia supporters if their darling was kicked out along with Jason Azzopardi. A bit like the way lazy teachers used to deal with bullies in my time punishing them alongside their victims because, you know, you asked for it.
Still, it’s not a given that quite as many members of the Executive Committee that might agree to kick Adrian Delia out, would agree to kick Jason Azzopardi out. The reasons are varied and should be obvious. It is customary at this point of the argument to acknowledge that Jason Azzopardi is not without faults. Who is? I won’t indulge the customary acknowledgment of imperfections because it plays in just the sort of false equivalence I am criticising.
If the rest of our Parliamentarians had a fraction of Jason Azzopardi’s commitment to justice, to truth, and to fighting the mafia, this country would be a much better place. His near reckless determination to say things as they are and to share the truth as he understands it and he knows it, and to dig for that truth no matter how ugly or how dangerous the effort is, is, sadly for the country, inimitable.
That may not make him popular, which, speaking as someone who would not be popular in a herd of his own clones, is not a criticism of Jason Azzopardi. But it does make him honest. And, in this world, general dislike is a consequence of honesty.
I’m also in a position to sympathise because like him, though for different reasons, I am a magnet for parody, sarcasm, vicious lampooning, and having what I say taken out of context and twisted to make me sound like I’m saying the opposite of what I mean.
So, on the one hand we have a guy risking life and limb and attracting all manner of approbation in his fight for justice. And on the other we have Adrian Delia, on whom I have written more than enough to make the case that he is as suitable for politics as I am suitable for a cardinal’s hat.
And the PN placed both in one basket, threatening them with God knows what possible outcome, in a simultaneous trial for entirely different crimes, if you’re prepared to insist that Jason Azzopardi’s hurrah that the court agreed he didn’t use prostitutes was anything beyond entirely comprehensible.
Jason Azzopardi signed today a declaration that says he has no reason to believe “Adrian Delia is in the pocket of any businessman”. Perhaps the use of the present tense in that statement is how Jason Azzopardi lived with that bit.
The declaration also says Jason Azzopardi thinks “Adrian Delia fights corruption without compromising”. Fuck that. That’s patently untrue. It’s documented. It’s historical. We were there in the street fighting corruption without compromising while Adrian Delia took sides with Joseph Muscat from the comfort of his master’s office.
And the declaration says Jason Azzopardi has no reason to believe “Adrian Delia acted to prevent David Casa from being elected to the European Parliament” or that there have been “hundreds of messages exchanged between Adrian Delia and Yorgen Fenech”.
Since Jason Azzopardi is not apologising for suggesting the opposite for several months, he has signed this declaration under duress. He was faced with ‘either you sign this or leave the PN for Adrian Delia to bustle in’.
Look at the statement. All Adrian Delia needed to declare was that he “recognised Jason Azzopardi’s fight against corruption” which is like saying he recognised the sun rises in the East. Jason Azzopardi’s greatest haters, his fiercest critics, his most vicious enemies know he is on the front line of the battle against corruption.
In other words, Adrian Delia today walked out of the PN unaffected by his blatant defiance of Bernard Grech’s instructions to stick by his party colleagues or fuck off. He was asked to regret nothing, to admit nothing, to take nothing back. He was treated like a victim when he had been the perpetrator. Adrian Delia walks out of the PN HQ tonight, as ever, smelling of the petrol he doused the building in before lighting a match.
On the other hand, Jason Azzopardi walked out of the PN HQ like an innocent who has just confessed to heresy or witchcraft after a night of torture in the dungeons of the Inquisition.
Adrian Delia won. Which means that his biggest supporter and the beneficiary from the havoc he’s been causing to the PN since he first appeared within its property in June 2017, the Labour Party, pressed its knee deeper into the neck of the moribund Nationalist Party.
And Bernard Grech? He bet his credibility on an outcome, but rushed to shut down the game the moment he realised he calculated the odds after he threw the dice. He played no role in today’s compromise. And in a battle between right and wrong he didn’t even deign to be the referee.
And Bernard Grech has just twisted the arm of one of the rebels who pushed Adrian Delia out to retract the case that forced Adrian Delia out of office. Smart. The question Adrian Delia asks next is why was he removed at all then? Why is Bernard Grech leader? Why doesn’t the PN throw out Bernard Grech alongside Jason Azzopardi?