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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

The dark side of the PN

It was no surprise, therefore, that the party machine would do its utmost to trip Claudio Grech by plotting his ‘downfall’: his not being returned to Parliament. Luckily these efforts did not succeed

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
13 June 2017, 7:30am
It was an open secret that Claudio Grech did not agree with the agressive way the Opposition was behaving during Joseph Muscat’s first term of office
It was an open secret that Claudio Grech did not agree with the agressive way the Opposition was behaving during Joseph Muscat’s first term of office
When Claudio Grech was declared elected last Monday he posted a very interesting message on Facebook. He thanked those who had supported him and his efforts to be returned to the House of Representatives. 

Then he continued saying that his election result was achieved against many currents, particularly against the political establishment of the past. He said that he and his family had to face many difficult moments and spoke of his determination to continue playing his part and to continue embracing a policy of respect to everybody. (‘Dan ir-rizultat ksibnih kontra hafna kurrenti, partikolarment kontra l-establishment tal-politika tal-passat. F’dawn l-ahhar gimghat jien u familti habbatna wiccna ma’ mumenti difficli izda dan sahhahna u lili jimlini b’determinazzjoni biex inkompli naghmel il-parti tieghi u biex nibqa’ inhaddan politka ta’ rispett lejn kulhadd.’)

It was an open secret that Claudio Grech did not agree with the agressive way the Opposition was behaving during Joseph Muscat’s first term of office. He was a lonely voice in favour of a saner less hysterical stance that – for the PN establishment – went against the grain. 

For me, it was no surprise, therefore, that the party machine would do its utmost to trip Claudio by plotting his ‘downfall’: his not being returned to Parliament. Luckily these efforts did not succeed.

When I say to some friends that there is a dark side of the PN – the small clan behind the party machinery that engineers and pre-empts so many decisions that should be taken democratically – many think I am paranoid. Others ask me who these people are. Whoever they are the system exists.

Franco Debono realised this and dubbed them the ‘oligarchy’. He completely lost it and fought them the wrong way. He brought the house down, burying himself under the debris. But his political nous was pointing to a real phenomenon.

I speak from experience. After I wrote last Sunday that I had voted for the coalition, a friend of mine, who knows all about the shabby way that the PN has been treating me for so many years, wondered why I had done that. In my book, a vote is not given because of personal motivations. I felt that the serious mistakes and blunders of Muscat’s government should not go unpunished and that the least I could do was to diminish his electoral advantage.

The PN’s shabby treatment in my case is not about Swiss Leaks. It started much before Swiss Leaks became a convenient excuse. When that news broke out, I suspended myself and then the PN claimed it had suspended me. I never received any communication from the PN about this suspension. The PN statute and the principles of natural justice were completely ignored and flouted by the party that preaches that the rule of law is sacrosanct. 

I was never accused of anything. I was never given the opportunity to defend myself and explain. I was never judged and found guilty but was left hanging suspended without due process for the rest of my life. I spoke to Simon Busuttil two or three times about my situation. He promised to do something about it but he did not. I do not blame him personally but somehow people behind the scenes did not let him attempt to thrash the matter out. 

If I were younger and less prudent, I would probably have been tempted to do a John Bonello and address a Labour mass meeting. But I believe in loyalty to one’s principles.

I do not accept the line of the party machinery that loyalty to the principles of the PN – as enshrined in the statute – means one cannot dissent and criticise decisions taken by the party. But criticising some of the decisions taken by the Gonzi administration made me anathema, made me a turncoat – a gakbin as I have been told on Facebook. I have never been a lackey. Loyalty does not a yes man make. Let alone that most of the times my criticism was justified, much to the chagrin of this ‘establishment’.

It was this ‘establishment’ that tripped Louis Galea and engineered the election of Lawrence Gonzi as party leader. It then engineered the election of his successor without allowing some time for reflection and before the finalisation of the report that was supposed to study the reasons behind the 2013 election debacle. 

The same ‘establishment’ then ignored the report submitted by the people that they had appointed. 

Will it now not attempt to engineer the election of the new PN leadership team?

Should I hope against hope that this time things will be different?

Redimensioning Simon

The election result cruelly revealed Simon Busuttil’s lack of streetwise acumen. 

Two decisions taken solely by him, before they had to be rubber-stamped by the rest of the leadership team and the PN executive, stick out.

One was the crazy idea that Salvu Mallia could make a good PN candidate. 

The other was the infamous coalition agreement that led to Marlene Farrugia taking PN votes rather than the PN taking any votes from the PD. In any case the PD vote would have been much less had they stood on their own.

The net result is that not only has the PN lost the election, but it has also donated a seat to the PD!

Things will change, of course. In the election for the European Parliament in two years time, the PN will present a star candidate who will obtain an incredible number of votes.

His name is Simon Busuttil.

Redimensioning Joseph

Last Sunday I wrote that the election result will redimension Joseph Muscat. It sure did – but not in the way I was thinking!

I honestly thought that the gap between the two parties would narrow and Muscat would no longer be perceived as an unbeatable political colossus. The opposite happened. Muscat has indeed become a bigger and stronger political giant.

Something that was missed by many is the phenomenon of new switchers. Many average people – particularly self-employed with small businesses or those who get an extra buck for letting their flat in Bugibba – who had voted PN in 2013 switched to PL in 2017. They discovered that the PN’s scaremongering in 2013 was empty hype and that their financial position improved considerably under Muscat’s tenure.

In all the bluster about corruption nobody thought of how many new switchers there would be. I bet most of them did not want to reveal their decision and replied ‘undecided’ when asked by some pollster or two.

Again, Muscat had his feet on the ground while Busuttil was spouting intangible morality. 

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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
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