Why Bernard Grech must go | Frank Camilleri

That is why Labour wins in the surveys and the Nationalists do not budge

PN leader Bernard Grech speaking on RTK
PN leader Bernard Grech speaking on RTK

I have already explained in a previous article why Bernard Grech must bow out of the leadership.

My previous article was based on the principle that if people are not in any way interested to listen to the messenger, they will not be able to hear his message. This means that the party message will not filter down to the electorate and voters, Nationalists or Labour, will not be able to understand what the party in Opposition intends to do or not to do once in power.

Of course, this accounts for present circumstances wherein the Labour Party seems to be losing votes, while the Nationalist Party is not gaining any of them.

The Opposition’s message outlining its policies for a possible future return to power is being missed by both sides.

But a more important aspect of the malaise in which the Opposition finds itself in is because Bernard Grech fails the test of leadership.

A good and true leader should be able to unite his forces and not break them up, leaving only factions with inter party rivalries or disinterested party followers.

The biggest mistake for Bernard Grech was his policy to get rid of the old guard at all costs; to get rid of all those who resisted his appointment as leader; and remove those whom he considered as radical.

In the idealistic dreams in which he seems to be living, Grech wanted to create a clean slate, with new young inexperienced appointees many of whom seem to be coming out of their seventh-grade school.

Hopelessly lost, these well-meaning individuals, with good qualities and all, can in no way stand up to the harsh realities of parliamentary life, where one is expected to stand up to be counted.

Instead, we have a bunch of well-meaning political students, whose only job seems to be saying yes to whatever Bernard Grech talks about. And he seems to be doing all the talking these days.

What Bernard Grech does not seem to realise is that his so-called new team does not enjoy the support of the electorate as these individuals are hardly known. They are not being exposed to the media in a sufficient way as to command respect and allegiance, and therefore they are contributing practically nothing to the party goals of keeping existing Nationalists loyal to the party or perhaps more important, winning over the sympathy of those Labour supporters who are finding themselves disillusioned with their government’s policies.

In simple terms, their presence is not contributing to the Nationalist Party’s popularity among the electorate, and are hardly taken seriously even by the Labour side.

One is bound to ask why Bernard Grech was hell bent in putting the Nationalist Party in such a predicament. It was so obvious that his policy of creating a clean slate would doom the Nationalist Party to the opposition benches for the next two or three decades.

Again, this is simply lack of good leadership. A good leader does not live in dreams but in political practicalities. A good leader must be able to rally his forces, make the best of available resources irrespective of personal clashes or different approaches to party ideologies.

Look at Erdogan in Turkey and Scholtz in Germany, and Netanyahu in Israel; they are all in power because they accepted in their ranks members from other parties, formed realistic coalitions and learned to live with them. And these three leaders are acknowledged as strong leaders not only in their country but even so at the international level.

Come to our country and the longstanding icons of the Nationalist Party have been antagonised and scattered with the winds.

Take Paul Borg Olivier who was a stalwart of the Valletta district and Austin Gatt, Jason Azzopardi, Louis Galea, and so many others. Why should such stalwarts not to be seen in any party event or at the party headquarters in Pietà where they spent most of their lives sweating it out leading the party to victory after victory.

Why is it that these party icons are made to feel that id-Dar Ċentrali is not part of their lives anymore? Bernard Grech keeps insisting on alienating these staunch true blue Nationalist Party members when he should be seeking ways to bring them back to the fold and use them as tools for promoting the Nationalist Party manifesto.

The failure of Bernard Grech as a leader is precisely because he fails to realise that thousands of Nationalist Party supporters knew and accepted these party stalwarts as the elements which formed the party. Thousands felt a strong bond with these ex party members which bond extended to the unquestioned acceptance of party policies that eventually led to election successes.

What Bernard Grech does not seem to realise is that plugging these ex PN members, ex ministers, or whoever, has left a void in the electorate. This has diluted allegiance to the party because many feel they have no one to attach themselves to as in the good old days.

That is why Labour wins in the surveys and the Nationalists do not budge.

This is certainly not the way to win elections.

The many ex PN ministers and other party functionaries should be used as reference points in their former districts to rally support among the grass roots and enable the party’s message to filter through.

Their names still carry weight, and their words still hold, because they all had credibility. Today credibility has been lost with the electorate.

And all this because of wrong leadership. However well-intentioned Bernard Grech is, he must go… unless the PN is to remain doomed in opposition for the next millennium.