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Why Labour wants Adrian Delia…

He has said that he will present his declaration of assets after becoming leader. That, I am afraid, is unacceptable. The truth is that his assets and accumulation of wealth is not small

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
7 August 2017, 8:04am
Adrian Delia should know that his life and business experience will be dissected by everyone
Adrian Delia should know that his life and business experience will be dissected by everyone
There is a very simple answer to the question in the title. But you will have to read on.  

All this talk that the Labour Party will welcome a different and moderate leader for the PN is quite a joke.

All political parties love to have a weak opposition or adversaries. And there has never been such an air of despondency at the PN. It is their worst point in history. The staff in Pietà are still living in a bubble. Those who captained the campaign just because they thought they knew something about doing so, are still there on a full-time salary.

To make matters worse the run for the PN leadership is lost in translation – the first quirky observation being that only one of the four candidates for the leadership seems to be the more colourful choice, simply because of his political posturing on the hard right. And yet no one, not even one of all the journalists who have quizzed him, has asked him the most pertinent question. That question being: “Dr Frank Portelli, considering that you wish to become leader of the Opposition, does the fact that you are in serious debt and owe thousands of euros to so many people automatically disqualify you from the contest?”

Now if I were Dr Portelli, I would answer quite simply by saying: “Considering the party also owes millions, I have no idea why I should be disqualified!”

Which leaves us with three noble candidates.  

There is little in the way of controversy to doubt the fact that Adrian Delia comes across as a breath of fresh air. He is a new face, at least in politics. But the comparison to Joseph Muscat is exaggerated.  

Muscat was moulded in the party structures, working in the background, first as a journalist and then as a propagandist. From the very first days, it was clear that his middle of the road approach would get him places. He spoke calmly, softly and had a human approach to problems. But he was from the grassroots and he worked for the party – for free.

Beyond his short stint as a junior executive in the financial services, his first love was politics and economics. But he was a party stalwart, nicknamed the poodle of Alfred Sant. That was soon to change. As we know, the poodle turned into a champion rottweiler.

When Muscat decided to stand for a seat in the European elections he was catapulted as the acceptable new face and when Labour lost yet another election, his friends encouraged him to stand against the more respectable figure of George Abela.

Adrian Delia has nothing of this. What is his party pedigree? In spite of all his statements that he was always a party member, really and truly he was nothing more than a paid-up member. Like new faces in Labour who have taken over the deputy leadership, he spent all his adult life making money.

In his 25-year career as a lawyer he built for himself a reputation which, if I were to repeat verbatim in these columns, would be far from flattering. Many businessmen in construction and speculation have few words of praise for Adrian Delia. And others, even some who call themselves his friends, actually question his qualities for the PN leadership.

He comes across as a very good speaker, with a gruff voice that seduces those who want a bruiser to take on Muscat. And his appearance is far superior to that of his rivals (have you ever seen an MP pull off a red pair of jeans? No. Delia actually owns one such pair). And his wife happens to be very pretty, with the right family outfit of nothing less than five children… superbly Presidential. 

But he has baggage.

He has said that he will present his declaration of assets after becoming leader. That, I am afraid, is unacceptable. The truth is that his assets and accumulation of wealth are not small. 

There is nothing wrong in that, but it is always a question that needs to be asked. He has to explain now, before the vote.

I say this as I said it when I questioned the assets of Anton Refalo, then Gozo minister. And I said it when I questioned other politicians who had monetary reserves that stuck out like a sore thumb. The ones that had no qualms preaching good politics as they made thousands from the same people they castigated – and everyone knows who I am talking about.

Many people in the business of politics are not surprised. But Adrian Delia should know that his life and business experience will be dissected by everyone. Not by the usual busybodies, but by everyone who matters, who have the public interest at heart, and not simply interested in shelling every single politician out of the way.

Apart from his involvement in certain companies, Delia also has a long history representing very rich clients, which means he should know that people have long memories when it comes to large transactions. Politics is not what it used to be when journalists were tame shrews, who did not have the wherewithal to delve into areas that the subject they would be grilling would rather keep under wraps.

His other consideration is his relationship to his partner in his law firm, Georg Sapiano – another shadow from the past who thankfully failed miserably when he tried to make a glorious entry into politics as a PN candidate. Together at their firm Aequitas Legal, they were the recipients of thousands of euros in consultancies from the former PN administration.

Notably, for instance, the direct order given to Sapiano and the law firm to redraw the transport routes for Arriva. It is perhaps a chapter in the last years of the Gonzi administration that had best be forgotten, together with that of the gung-ho minister who drove public transport into the ground. And all this for the princely sum of €330,000.

Does all this mean that the PN should elect Chris Said or Alex Perici Calascione?  Not necessarily. But with a party in complete tatters, the last thing that the PN needs is a lame duck for a leader.

Which is what the Labour party hopes for..

This kind of argumentation is of course not in tune with the likes of Pierre Portelli, who is running The Malta Independent and Adrian Delia’s campaign at the same time. The ambitious Portelli, who always dreamed of becoming secretary general of the party, is actively campaigning for his candidate. Even though I cannot understand why lunch last week with the deputy prime minister could help Adrian Delia at this stage… (wink).

Yes, Labour want a lame duck they can pelt and call names, and that will spend more time defending his patch instead of hitting them where it hurts.

***

PN candidate Mario Galea took to Facebook yesterday and called for Simon Busuttil to resign. He painted the man as an autocrat who designed his own strategy and imposed decisions without consultation. The best examples he gave were his decision to rope in Rosette Thake and his alliance with Marlene Farrugia. He left out others – Busuttil’s poor judgement led to many questionable decisions.

Galea is a veteran MP from the heartland of Zejtun. The Nationalists here are the breed that have had to fight against the current, in a constituency dominated by the Labour Party.

Galea said that Busuttil should leave, as Gonzi had done. He should have gone a step further and suggested that the entire party hierarchy should also go. And that should definitely include those involved in the campaign strategy, the new and old faces.

It does remind me of the fall of the Roman Empire, the pity is that there seems to be no one as yet in a position to halt the invasion of Rome by the Visigoths. 

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...
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