The PN’s ‘broad church’ is surely not friendly to broads…

The Skinny | No 113 – No Abortion, No Cry

What are we skinning? Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech taking an unequivocal stance against abortion, all the while adding that all PN members toe the party line on this matter – no ifs or buts.

Why are we skinning it? Because it puts to rest a number of things, while simultaneously raising more questions.

How do you mean? In a lot of ways, the PN can no longer be accused of dithering on this matter. As an historically conservative party with close ties to the Church, the PN’s pro-life stance was always taken as something of a given. But a younger cohort had joined its frontline campaign efforts of late, offering the promise of an olive branch – if not an all-out lifeline – to progressive voters desperate for an alternative to Labour Party hegemony.

I’m confused though – didn’t its chief media strategist recently trot out the old chestnut about the PN being ‘a broad church’? Yes, but we’re the ones at fault for not realising his true meaning. By broad church he just meant like, a really, really big church. A huge physical space of worship and the promotion of Catholic family values, whose aim is to grow large enough to swallow the entire island, after which none of its denizens will be able to escape the cloying smell of incense and organ music.

It’s certainly a church that is not terribly friendly to ‘broads’ though. Using the 1950s term ‘broads’ to speak of ‘women’ certainly aligns with the antiquated views that the PN appears keen to be promoting… but no, unless said broads are of the ‘humble and unpretentious’ cohort that politico-architect Robert Musumeci expressed a liking of not too long ago, it seems that the PN will only accommodate women who do not speak unless spoken to first.

So the PN has effectively alienated the floating liberal voter, most women under 50, and pretty much anybody who realises that Malta’s abortion law is the kind of thing people across the world – from Poland to Texas – are vehemently protesting about in droves (only it’s actually worse). Yes. Maybe it’s nostalgia for a ‘simpler’ time. When women’s bodily autonomy was but a punchline, the Church offered an unquestionable true north for moral behaviour and expectations, and the nuclear family was the be-all and end-all.

Cosy misery is certainly a vibe. That it is.

But wait… how does the spit-polish extraordinaire Christian Peregin – whom we alluded to earlier – fit into all this? Shouldn’t this scan as a PR disaster, whichever way you slice it? At the end of the day, Christian Peregin is a spin doctor whose job is to craft messages based on his client’s core values and what they’d like to project to the world at large at any given time.

The message on this seems to be clear, at the very least. The very least is all we seem to be getting with this Opposition Party at all fronts. Therein lies the real tragedy.

Do say: “That the PN leader – and by extension, the party as a whole – took a definitive stance on abortion is, at the very bare minimum, something to be commended. But the move certainly casts a death knell over any possibility of the embattled party reaching out to younger, middle-of-the-road voters who are uncomfortable with the Labour Party. Yet another brick in the wall of the status quo.”

Don’t say: “If the unborn child could vote, would it still vote PN?”