The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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Leadership notebook

Daphne Caruana Galizia Sunday, 25 June 2017, 11:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

Adrian Delia has been the first to throw his hat into the ring for the Nationalist Party leadership. It’s not a surprise announcement. By several accounts, he has had this in mind for a long time – I would say roughly since Simon Busuttil became party leader four years ago. One of the serious problems that Dr Busuttil had to contend with was that there were people in his own party, or supposedly supporting his party, who shared with Labour a hope that he would fail. I’m not saying here that Dr Delia put his personal ambition before the interest of the country and of the party he hopes to lead, but from where I’m standing I’m afraid that’s what it looks like to me. He’s never done a day’s work in politics, never been part of a political party or had to contend with any of the mess, and now he hopes to step in and become prime minister in five years’ time, when the stars are aligned and the moment is right.

I’m not favourably impressed by the arrogance of somebody who thinks he can go from being president of a football club and a lawyer who services clients to Leader of the Opposition and then Prime Minister, overnight and with no experience in politics. The kind of person who thinks that he can do it when he has had no experience and training for it is – whatever the sector we are talking about – exactly the kind of person who I don’t want doing it, because he hasn’t a clue what it entails and more properly because the “of course I can do it – anyone can” attitude is a big, red warning light.


And before you ask – no, I’m not backing another potential candidate in the leadership race. There have been two Nationalist Party leadership contests as long as I have been writing a newspaper column, and I’ve not backed anyone in either, nor stated a preference publicly. This is what I think: that I can’t see any viable potential contenders, and I hope to be pleasantly surprised because the alternative is extremely worrying, especially if it is Adrian Delia. Nothing personal, Dr Delia, but you really do have a nerve.


The point people like Dr Delia miss is that Joseph Muscat did not come out of nowhere. Lots of people seem to think he did, simply because they had never noticed him before he became a member of the European Parliament in 2004. Some of them did not even notice him then, and think he came out of nowhere when he became Labour leader in 2008.

But Dr Muscat has been active in party politics since he was around 18. He’s nine years my junior, and when I was 27 and associate editor of the brand-new The Malta Independent, he was already in the thick of it. It was 1992 and Alfred Sant had just become leader of the Malta Labour Party after Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici lost the general election that year. Joseph Muscat threw himself into the Labour Party that year, tacked himself onto Alfred Sant’s coat-tails, began dating Dr Sant’s personal assistant (and later married her) and made sure he was right in there learning everything and more properly, ‘learning’ everyone. That has been to his maximum advantage and illustrates what I wrote the other week about how a party leader/Opposition leader/Prime Minister got to be somebody who has been in politics or public service all his adult life. It just doesn’t work otherwise.


Adrian Delia has said that he would be a good person to meet people, talk to them and understand them. I had to hold back my views about that, as in, how is he going to meet them – on boats and at the football club? But more properly, that is only a fraction of the story. You don’t govern or make policy by meeting people and charming them. That’s the way to get them on side, but once they’re on side, they’re going to want to know whether you’re a fit politician, whether you can make policy, and whether you can govern. And quite frankly, I don’t think Dr Delia can charm people anyway. For a start, he’s got to stop writing those icky messages to his own wife on Facebook. They are toe-curling and anything but leadership material.

If you want to say something to your wife, Dr Delia, the proper place to do it is generally in one’s kitchen or living room. When you feel you have to say it on Facebook, more alarm bells go off.


I hope to goodness that the Nationalist Party gets some decent leadership contenders. Forty-four per cent of the electorate don’t even want another five years of this sleazy government, let alone another 10.

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