We all get so much more work done when the boss is on holiday, right?

No. 205 - Turn Around, Bernie

Nationalist leader Bernard Grech and his wife Anne Marie watch on from the balcony of the St Joseph band club in Ħamrun
Nationalist leader Bernard Grech and his wife Anne Marie watch on from the balcony of the St Joseph band club in Ħamrun

What are we skinning? PN leader Bernard Grech being turned away from the party's own club during the San Cajetan morning march in Ħamrun last Sunday, leading to an altercation that led to the hospitalisation of one of Grech's supporters.

Why are we skinning it? Because it's a distillation of both the intoxicating - and often, intoxicated - festa atmosphere, while simultaneously serving as a sobering (read: depressing) reminder that a certain strand of political-tribal sentiment is very much alive and kicking on the island.

Why was Grech turned away? We're talking about a climactic moment of the legendary Hamrun feast here, so let's just say that there's a 'fog of war' surrounding the ever-elusive hard facts of the case...

Granted, go on... So, there are two conflicting versions of the story. One claims that the barman who turned Grech away did so because he feared the political repercussions of Grech showing his face in a bar which appeared to be hosting, at that point, people of varying political allegiance. The second version has it that the barman was irate at Grech's sporadic attendance at the club over the years, and that him showing up now was too little, too late.

Which one do you believe? Whatever I, or anyone else believes, would have to be framed by the only (unfortunate) hard fact we do know about the incident: that Grech supporter Noel Mifsud Bonnici was assaulted as a result of whatever exchange took place, and ended up in hospital as a result of his wounds.

That sounds like a sub-optimal outcome. It is, in various ways. Blame the booze, I guess.

I would rather blame the individuals involved, but perhaps that's a fight for another day (no pun intended). It's certainly a fight that should not have taken place on a festa day where, despite the expected jolt of alcohol-fuelled revelry, one expects a bedrock of communal solidarity.

It certainly does nothing to dispel the idea that festas are largely street-parties given ecclesiastical varnish. And if the 'Delia Theory' is correct, neither does it help the PN's image.

How so? The Delia-Grech rivalry was one of the greatest PR boons to the Labour Party media machine, supposedly revealing an internal rift that proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the PN is unfit to rule because it cannot get its house in order.

Has that really changed, though? That is certainly something the PL would like us to think, yes. In fact, ONE News were the first to fan the 'Delia Theory' far and wide... it's a wound it befits them to reopen at the earliest and readiest opportunity.

I wouldn't think it's the shrewdest option, though. Why do you say that?

Exhuming the ghost of rivalries past will only put the spotlight back onto the PL's own internal rift. That's possible. It seems like we're on a race back to the bottom end of zero-sum politics, where each party starts off on equal footing as former super-majorities fade away.

Is that really a bad thing, though? I mean... like a political leader allegedly causing a ruckus by dint of their mere presence at the Santa Marija feast, it does at the very least have a nostalgic thrill to it.

Do say: "The fact that the incident culminated in an act of physical violence stands as a regrettable reminder of the hot-headed nature in which we process the political landscape as a nation, all the more so if Grech was being accused of actually showing LESS loyalty than was expected of him."

Don't say: "Party leaders should only ever be barred entry at their respective HQs. We all get so much more work done when the boss is on holiday, right?"