Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

A letter to Simon and friends

The broad vision of an all encompassing political party that manages to find common ground between different sectors of the population has never managed to survive and exist since Eddie Fenech Adami resigned his leadership post

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
18 July 2017, 7:30am
What intrigues me, however, is the light Tonio Fenech’s letter sheds on how Simon Busuttil ran the party under his leadership
What intrigues me, however, is the light Tonio Fenech’s letter sheds on how Simon Busuttil ran the party under his leadership
Tonio Fenech’s leaked letter addressed to Simon Busuttil and the PN parliamentary group sheds an interesting light on the way the PN has been run under Simon Busuttil’s leadership.

I do not agree with Tonio Fenech’s take on divorce or on gay marriage or with his belief that the PN should be a quasi-confessional party in order to keep the ‘influential Catholic/Christian vote. That would forever put the PN in the Opposition with less than 35% of the vote.

What intrigues me, however, is the light Tonio Fenech’s letter sheds on how Simon Busuttil ran the party under his leadership. Here the accusations are serious. Fenech says that writing in a newspaper has ‘more power’ than sitting in the PN parliamentary group. I interpret this to mean that the PN parliamentary group has – more often than not – had decisions imposed upon them rather than given the opportunity to take a collegial decision after a healthy discussion.

He accuses the PN – under Simon Busuttil’s leadership – of having “acquired an art of silencing those who had differing opinions, not through dialogue and conviction, but through the simple manoeuvres of postponement of discussion.” Old timers, like me, instantly recognise this tactic as an old Giorgio Borg Olivier trick!

Fenech adds that this was being done while taking for granted the support of the parliamentary group and that of the traditional PN voter.

In Fenech’s words: “every day I come across more and more people who feel that this home (i.e. their party) has been stolen from them, not through some democratic process, but through a sense of denial for what we stood for, even our most basic values.”

What Fenech is saying here is that the PN has failed miserably to become an inclusive party and change from the exclusive party that was inherited from Lawrence Gonzi’s leadership style. In attempting to include those who were excluded from GonziPN, Simon Busuttil only managed to include the excluded by excluding the included. 

The truth is that the broad vision of an all encompassing political party that manages to find common ground between different sectors of the population has never managed to survive and exist since Eddie Fenech Adami resigned his leadership post.

Irrespective of Tonio Fenech’s take on such issues as divorce and gay marriage, he has made a very good analysis on what is the problem that the PN faces today. The haemorrhage of votes between 2013 and 2017 – the so-called new switchers – only goes to confirm this sorry state of affairs.

Admittedly, it is not easy to inspire people with different – sometimes opposing – outlooks to life to converge in one political party. But this is what the PN must strive to do, if it wants to be in power some day. Exclusivity has been the bane of the PN during the last 15 years or so and old habits die hard. The new leader must have the courage to recognise this, rather than cosy up to a group of people around him selling him the idea that an inclusive club of like-minded persons can somehow manage to become a movement inspiring the majority of voters to a better life.

Admittedly, for whoever is running the PN, life would be more comfortable without people questioning and opposing every move. Achieving this by cleverly smothering opposition, however, does not make for good leadership. In the long run, what the PN really needs is a valid internal opposition that ensures that every decision is taken after due consideration – not imposed after some select group persuade the leader on what to do... and who then rides roughshod over the party’s democratic structures.

This reminds me of a very famous quote attributed to former US President Lyndon Johnson when asked how he could put up with then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Johnson is said to have replied that: “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” Excluding people from the tent does not improve the security of the leader and his friends. It tends to provoke the wrong reaction.

Many have prudently waited for the election result before opening their mouth, but now the floodgates are open and everybody is ‘pissing’ into the tent.

Unfortunately this is what Simon Busuttil’s leadership style has managed to do.

For the PN’s survival as a relevant force in Maltese politics, a fresh start is a sine qua non.

The pond is small

The number of people being touted as possible candidates for the PN leadership has reminded me of a friend who once described Maltese society in the following terms: The pond is small and everybody thinks he is a big fish!

An inflated ego is a very common Maltese characteristic and the ‘explanation’ given by my friend fits in beautifully with the way things occur in Malta.

I need not give examples – lest the people I leave out feel that their ego has been slighted – but this sort of thing does not happen only in the political sphere.

We keep believing that mediocre singers singing mediocre songs should win the Eurovision song festival, and that some Maltese team can beat a foreign team that is obviously superior.

Every time Malta competes at a European or international level in any competition of sorts, the Maltese media is full of hype pushing false hopes that practically never fail to disappoint.

I know that this is a compensating mechanism to make up for our obvious limitations, but more often than not we go over the top.

This is not a question of the Maltese being inferior to others. It is a matter of numbers. There is an obvious limit to how many good leaders or world class performers can be found in a population of 400,000. Indeed, considering our limitations, we do fairly well on the international scene.

Expecting the best of 400,000 to be better than the best of 4,000,000 or even than the best of 40,000,000 is unrealistic.

But unrealistic we must be in order to survive in this world of ‘no holds barred’ competition.

But please, can we make an exception and ensure that PN leadership pretenders realise their limitations?

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
DealToday
follow us on facebook