If there were any doubts about what the Nationalist Party truly represents, last weekend’s events served as a stark reminder.
For the last few weeks there has been a small, but vociferous, campaign so that Dr Franco Debono gets again actively involved in the party. Debono has always made it abundantly clear that he is a staunch Nationalist and that he would welcome a return to active participation within the party’s ranks. Many had thought that the silence that accompanied the latest campaign meant that the party’s inner circle was now willing to welcome Franco Debono back in.
Yet, on Saturday, Edward Debono, a key figure in the PN’s establishment and the lawyer currently representing the leader of the Party, Bernard Grech, finally made public the opinion of the inner circle during a radio programme. As could have been expected, it was a case of never forgive, never forget. Edward Debono was clear that the establishment had not laid to rest Franco Debono’s actions during the GonziPN administration. In their eyes, Franco Debono remains someone who cannot be trusted and who therefore should not be part of the Nationalist Party.
This opened wide the divisions between the factions within the Party. Coming hot on the heels of the public endorsement of Franco Debono by one of the Opposition’s spokespersons and a member of its executive, the statement by Edward Debono was clearly meant to indicate that matters of importance within the Party are decided by the establishment and not by MPs or members of the Party’s Executive.
Dr Franco Debono understood immediately the significance of the statements of Edward Debono. He realised that the door which he thought was being left ajar, had been slammed right into his face. He went to confront Edward Debono to refute the latter’s claims that he was expecting a leadership position after rejoining the Party. He was not able to confront the establishment figure, but he still managed to express his views on the matter.
When faced with a question on Franco Debono, Bernard Grech is quoted as saying that Debono is a valid person, while also cautioning that to be in the Nationalist Party one has to be subject to the collective will and not be too individualist.
The reaction of Manuel Delia was very quick: for him Franco Debono “comes back like a re-emerging tumour, for some time too small for scans, and before you know it too big to carry”. The crassness and insensitivity of this kind of writing is incredible.
Manuel Delia went on stating that “when you let Franco Debono through the door, when you invite him to contribute, you won’t be accused of corruption. You’ll rightly be accused of chaotic instability, egomania, a pathological inability to fit in a team, and stormy, pubescent, utterly unpredictable, spontaneity”. And, to end the matter, he stated that “if the PN had coherent policies to make up for that, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But does it? Where are they?”
It is abundantly clear that the doors of the establishment are still shut to Franco Debono. The establishment has not forgotten, let alone forgiven. Franco Debono’s actions, more than twelve years ago, are still firmly in the establishment’s mind. Moreover, what really irks the establishment is that they suspect that Franco Debono’s entry and possible alliance with a non-establishment faction, such as that close to Adrian Delia, could take away their power.
Franco Debono is not a yes man. He has strong and well articulated views. Take, for instance, his views about the white paper on drug court reforms. They are diametrically opposite to those of Edward Debono’s and of the Repubblika movement. Is it a surprise that, a few hours after having posted these views on Facebook, Edward Debono went on the radio to comment on him?
The PN’s establishment remains unchanged. Never forgive, never forget…
Photo: Times of Malta (file photo)