As we take stock of what is happening around us, especially in the political fora, one can’t help but wonder how we could have possibly arrived at such an unimaginable state as that in which the Nationalist Party is floundering. Surely one would expect a better performance from a Party that when in power, reigned supreme with an arrogance rather reminiscent of the feudal kings and lords. As a result, the Nationalist Party failed to see the writing on the wall leading to its inevitable downfall at the polls in 2013. The bell had been tolling since the scraped victory of 2008 and the internal turmoil within the Nationalist Party, in a hung Government plodding through with its weary way, till crushing down with ignominiously.
One would have thought that there would be regrouping and re-thinking in a bid to re-assemble and relaunch itself in a sensible and structured manner. On the contrary, heads were dug deeper into the sand and the party became the stage on which the absurdity of ‘The Pretender’ to the throne was to be enacted. The effort was so void of ideas that energy was spent on efforts to remove the legitimate Government, through fair means or foul, leading to internal squabbles and Party Leadership struggles of historical, if not hysterical, proportions.
Comparisons are said to be odious but at times they do serve a purpose. The local situation is reminiscent of the famous pretenders to the British throne of the eighteenth century. The Stuarts had lost the throne but they, nonetheless, laid a claim to it by pursuing the philosophy of the throne being their rightful place. The famous divine right was their call for battle. The two pretenders, James Edward Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart were the Old and the Young Pretender respectively. Unsuccessful in their attempt, they relied heavily on foreign help namely France and Scotland to wage war against the established rulers.
The local situation is reminiscent of the famous pretenders to the British throne of the eighteenth century.
Now, how can all this be transported to the present political scenario?
The Nationalist Party has never admitted and accepted the defeats at the polls, even though the whole process was a legitimate, transparent and democratic exercise. The MPs sitting on the opposition benches feel they are not in their rightful place, and even try to rule where mandate they have none. Not to mention that, like the Stuarts, they are seriously lacking when it comes to organisation. The episodes of infighting within the party have led to disastrous situations leading the Nationalists to one defeat after the other, at the polls. Comes forth Simon Busuttil (the Old Pretender) anointed by the outgoing Lawrence Gonzi, placed in post as the rightful choice of the party hierarchy. Busuttil had been a rising star and was well connected to the European Parliament members. He was well liked by the party faithful, but he embarked on a vicious mission to oust the Labour Party using all means whatsoever. Today, he occupies the position of Secretary General of the European People’s Party.
What is most upsetting in this, is that the only thing that Busuttil has created is a policy of sowing harm and hatred against the Labour Party, and as such Malta, within the European Parliament. This stance is being carried forward by the Nationalist MEPs, who are so vociferous against Malta overseas, even at the cost of harming any good that this country can glean from being an EU member.
The MPs sitting on the opposition benches feel they are not in their rightful place, and even try to rule where mandate they have none.
Internal squabbles, leadership issues and a lost sense of identity have brought the troubled birth of a newly anointed whom we can now address as the Young Pretender. This new leader arrived under a cloud of suspicion, problematic acceptance by the subjects but with the same aspirations and tactics as Busuttil. Hence Bernard Grech takes centre stage in the vest of the Young Pretender. That he aspires to take the throne is reflected by his speeches and stances on many issues, though he too has taken up the call of the foreign alliances using both Metsola and Casa to foment doubt abroad. Using even natural disasters to attack the Government, he has so far failed to inspire and relies on the diehards, rather than the recruits, to march along the path to ‘glory’.
Contrary to what has happened in the Labour Party, the Nationalists have failed to renew. They are still lumbered with the old guard and bereft of any fresh ideas. The recent spat between Adrian Delia and Jason Azzopardi is demonstrative of the instability within the ranks.
Yes, history tends to repeat itself in more ways than one, and in different forms. The local Pretenders are a far cry from sword and gun but bitterness is their powder and vindictiveness their shot. They can do harm and win some political mileage in certain instances, but the majority of the Maltese will vouch for a party in government that has brought us through the worst natural disaster of recent times, with a positivity that inspires self-belief and trusted leadership, so needed to take Malta to the next level.