Delia and Grech engage in tame face-to-face debate

We selected five choice quotes from Nationalist Party leadership contenders Adrian Delia and Bernards Grech who went head-to-head on NET TV

Bernard Grech and Adrian Delia
Bernard Grech and Adrian Delia

Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech crossed swords coated in cotton wool on Tuesday, in the only face-to-face debate of the Nationalist Party leadership election campaign.

The contenders took two-minute turns in answering questions put to them by Times of Malta assistant editor Matthew Xuereb in a broadcast on NET TV.

Bar a couple of veiled shots at each other, the candidates avoided direct attacks as they sparred in a tame match that failed to excite.

Possibly the more interesting aspects came in the introductory videos prepared by the candidates’ respective campaign teams, where we learnt that Grech was born in the same year that John Lennon sang Imagine and Delia got his argumentative passion from his father.

These are five choice quotes from both candidates.

1. taxes and personal finances

Bernard Grech: “I could have done things better. People can trust me because I have shouldered my responsibilities and paid my dues.”

Adrian Delia: “We cannot put everyone in the same basket. I never had financial problems and issues with my taxes.”

2. Lack of party unity

Grech: “It is unfair to single out those MPs who voted [against the leader] in a confidence vote. After that vote there were other votes in the executive and the general council. You do not win people’s loyalty by whipping them. Loyalty is achieved through respect and respect is earned. But this is not just about unity in the parliamentary group but unity that includes the people from the committees and I intend to involve them more.”

Delia: “We cannot have people who call for unity but then go on to put spanners in the works. I have always opened my door to everyone but there were some who did not want me. This is why we now need unity with loyalty to be able to move forward.”

3. PN’s identity

Grech: “The PN has always been the party that represents a wide range of people. To remain so we need to maintain contact with people every day. We have to change your pain into opportunities… we have to come out with ideas and proposals so that you can live a dignified life.”

Delia: “Before 2013 a PN government managed to steer the economy and country through a global financial crisis but it lost contact with ordinary people… We have to show the people who left us that we have changed, that we are not arrogant, that we recognised our mistakes because unless we do so we cannot convince them that we represent their voice.”

4. Free vote on equality law

Grech: “I will not decide on my own and beforehand determine what has to be done. I will talk with parliamentary group, listen to their views and together we have to adopt a position that makes sense in today’s circumstances. Equality must not be used to introduce other rights underhandedly. Church schools must have the space to express their ethos in all lessons and we have to ensure this law does not stifle this. We should allow people the right to conscientious objection.”

Delia: “On matters of conscious I will give a free vote. But this is not the case [on the equality law]. We have a sub-group within the party dealing with this law. Government has decided to steamroll. The position adopted by the PN parliamentary group is coherent and encompasses diverse views that have reached us from people expressing concerns. Let us not allow the government use this law to introduce minority rights by imposing them on the majority.”

5. Neutrality and good governance

Grech: “Nobody is taking this country seriously… In a few days’ time, we will have the Moneyval report that risks causing problems with the economy… To try and fix this the government is ready to cede the country’s neutrality. I urge veteran Labourites to join us in this fight to preserve neutrality.”

Delia: “Media reports are saying the government is willing to cede our sovereignty because of American pressure and this is the price we are paying for the lack of good governance and we have to be vigilant on this. But there is also the corrupt Vitals hospitals contract for which we are being robbed on a daily basis. I intend making the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister personally responsible for their actions on the Vitals contract.”