8 devastating takeaways from Tonio Fenech’s angry letter to the PN leadership

The former PN minister has penned a 2,000-word missive to the party leadership on what he termed the ‘gay marriage fiasco’: read it here

The former PN minister Tonio Fenech, who in 2012 lost out on the deputy leadership race to Simon Busuttil, has penned an angry 2,000 word letter to the party leadership.
The former PN minister Tonio Fenech, who in 2012 lost out on the deputy leadership race to Simon Busuttil, has penned an angry 2,000 word letter to the party leadership.

A letter written by former PN finance minister Tonio Fenech to the PN leadership has exposed a rift between a conservative and liberal faction inside the party, as Malta steams ahead to become one of the first European nations to introduce same-sex marriage. The letter was leaked to the Labour Party media One.com.mt and contains some revealing observations about the way some people inside the PN are unhappy with liberal viewpoints.

1. The PN has developed an ‘art of silencing’ those with differing opinions

“These last four years the Nationalist Party acquired an art of silencing those who had differing opinions, not through dialogue and conviction, but through the simple manoeuvres of postponement of discussion or worse the committing of the Party’s position through media pronouncements that were not discussed with the Parliamentary Group.”

2. The PN is taking its Christian vote for granted

“Principled people, many committed Catholics and Christians (as I see an even militant anger in the non-Catholic Christian Churches)… simply cannot accept our positions. Telling them that these rights are for others and not for you – does not work as a committed Christian knows that we are called to be light to the world not in a closet and so what happens in society and how society is evolving, what is right or wrong, for them is not something they can turn a Nelson’s eye to but a serious moral issue. Forget this, and you will never see these peoples’ votes again.”

3. He says a silent Catholic vote is influential

“I assure you that the less colourful silent ‘Catholic/Christian’ vote is far more influential voting wise the any other lobby, the only difference is that to date is not yet been mobilized effectively as happens in other countries, because to date these people did not feel the need for such a mobilization as they found a home in the PN.  This is where I would like these people to remain.”

A pro-life protest in Valletta, Malta on 3 December, 2016.
A pro-life protest in Valletta, Malta on 3 December, 2016.

4. The PN played into Muscat’s hands on gay marriage

“Quite honestly the mishandling of this situation by the leadership is not surprising. You have brought the Party to a lose-lose scenario… the Party took a position on the notion that the Bill presented was only ‘a change in name’. The Party decided to present over 80 amendments, but also announcing that it will still vote in favour whatever happens at committee stage we would still vote in favour.

“The Party naively thought that this was the Government would be open to some sort of dialogue in the committee stage, if we really believed this we have still not learnt who is Joseph Muscat who will on this issue continue sowing division.  We once again playing perfectly into Joseph’s hand.”

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja (Photo: Ray Attard)
MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja (Photo: Ray Attard)

5. Malta is not a liberal society

“Please get out of this illusion that the Maltese society is a liberal society, your circle of friends may be and possible many voters in the more affluent constituencies, the media that wants to sell this idea – but many of you well know that your Nationalist voter are not happy at all with what is happening and there are more people with a certain conscience in our society then we want to believe.”

6. The electoral programme was not discussed with MPs

“The Electoral Program was not discussed before being presented to the General Council in a conclusive format, and published less than two weeks before the election. What did the PN want? That half the candidates do not contest... Our programme said we will present a Bill – the Bill in Parliament is not OUR bill.”

7. The PN lost the 2013 election in 2009

“The 2013 election was not won or lost because of the gay vote, we were already out by a distance in the EP elections of 2009 (losing by the same margin). Clearly this election, with all the apologetics and promises we made to the LGBTIQ community should have brought as some of those votes back, not only that did not happen, but Nationalist personalities, such as Felix Busuttil openly campaigned for Labour despite the Party efforts.”

Edwin Vassallo (left) said that Simon Busuttil is 'an accomplice in the suppression of religious freedom'
Edwin Vassallo (left) said that Simon Busuttil is 'an accomplice in the suppression of religious freedom'

8. Compromise, or face a party split

“If this inflexibility is because there are far more than one who hold Edwin [Vassallo]’s position, then this is a mockery of democracy and shows how wrong the Party was in putting it in the Electoral Programme in the first place, ignoring this division.  Find a compromise solution. I think the Party has only one way to go, give the free vote. Let the LGBTIQ community know who is convinced and who is not, what is the problem with that? But also let the Christian Voters fell represented in our Party and with respect. Short of this – YOU ARE LOSING THEM BOTH.”

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