After 12 long days of radio silence, Bernard Grech decided to reappear on the airwaves and boost the morale of Nationalist Party supporters following the recent General Election… Or so I thought.
The 25-minute-long interview was given a lot of prominence on Nationalist Party media. The Party’s Facebook page published an advert to publicise this same interview. When I saw this advert, I thought this was going to be a run of the mill interview where Grech would thank the Party’s supporters for their support during the election, provide some semblance of critical analysis on the recent election result and officially announce his candidacy for Party leadership… and boy was I wrong.
A particular excerpt from this interview struck me. Grech started by saying the following (obviously, this was translated from Maltese) “This is not how we change politics. The Party will continue to strengthen itself with more people getting involved and wishing to move forward. Whoever criticises the Party on social media wants to harm the Party. This is not acceptable anymore. We need to be more disciplined. We cannot expect to have people who do and say what they please and expect things to get better. This unison will allow the Party to be electable again”.
I hope this doesn’t sound too blunt, but political parties exist to represent people, win elections and run a country. In this case, the PN’s main goal should be to reduce the haemorrhage of voters the Party is losing every day and ultimately win an election. If this is the cornerstone for Grech’s leadership for the next five years, this will bring more and more disappointments to the Nationalist Party and its supporters. Such views have led the PN to lose the election with the widest margin since Independence,
While the Labour Party is busy analysing the previous election result with its members, where delegates are discussing freely with the Party’s administration what worked and what could have been done better, the Nationalist Party is demanding its supporters to be disciplined and tow the party line, or else expect some form of retribution.
Bernard Grech is singlehandedly destroying the adage that the Nationalist Party is a mosaic of ideas and ideologies. Instead, the PN is slowly turning into a monolith – an antiquated party where PN supporters will be nothing more than puppets who should accept whatever he says as fact. Whoever does not accept and follow the party line will be branded as a dissident and will be “disciplined” – whatever that means to Grech.
A few days ago, newly co-opted MP Randolph De Battista had this to say about the Labour Party “We must keep on expanding our family. The moment we believe we’ve grown enough is when we will start shrinking. We must keep opening our doors and taking care of people.” Such expansion will bring a healthier debate about where the Party sees itself in the future. I am more than sure that the PL and its members will not shy away from such discussions.
This is the Party I want to see in the future – an open party where members discuss policy and politics freely without the threat of any Inquisition-style “punishment”, and I am sure that many Nationalists who are hurt by Grech’s words wish the same thing.