The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Permissible coup d’état?

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 12 February 2020, 07:55 Last update: about 11 days ago

Togetherness

It was a fresh November morning in 1986, the 30th.  Heading to tal-Barrani (an allegorical name to a street that meant so much to the political struggle at the time).  

A couple of friends and I met up in Birkirkara at the usual meeting point before taking the first possible ride hitchhiking on one of the many trucks, vans and cars heading to l-Istamperija, the Nationalist Party’s headquarters, as it was affectionately called, for what I consider to be the mother of all carcades.  Vehicles were lined-up at Blata l-Bajda in a planned and at the same time jumbled way, swelling with hundreds of people. 

It was ‘il-mument tal-prova’ – in truth, yet another moment.   

We were encouraged implicitly and explicitly by my parents and school never to ignore the call to do what is right and going to mass meetings, protests and other party activities I felt it was the right thing to do at the time.

From the optics of a 16-year-old it was excitement mingled with a tinge of foreboding. 

Having to face those burly men with ‘Jango Fett looking kits’ ready to slam their batons on us day-in-day-out was disquieting. 

Yet in numbers there was strength.  We wanted to be at ground zero, as close to the detonation as possible because it was the right thing to do.

Soul

The adrenaline rush was there before every event; this was no exception. Rabat, Birkirkara, Haz-Zebbug, endless pilgrimages to the Fosos were the breeding ground of the new Nation. The feeling of giving birth to a Country until then bogged down with meaninglessness, apathy and coldness, was a great emotion. I wanted to be on the right side of history and so together with my brother, my family, our friends and comrades I kicked back as best as I could for the 16-year-old that I was.

Coalition

The trucks of Alfaran were to lead the eminent carcade – our own March on Zejtun and all in the name of egalitarianism. Most of us silent, many carrying flags and other Party paraphernalia, felt that it was time to step up. It almost felt like going to war. As we bobbed up and down and sideways on the back of the trailer hanging on to each other, I was standing next to a group of friends all wrapped up in the PN flags humming slogans. Even though still so young I remember feeling a gargantuan responsibility on my shoulders. It felt nationalistic and it felt right.  This Party was the last Institution standing from where I stood. It was a hodge-podge of people who, notwithstanding came from so many different backgrounds, managed to create a coalition.

And we arrived at tal-Barrani. 

The rest is history. 

Chaos, trucks a blaze, shots fired from every side.  Smoke bellowed.

People injured.

Debris strewn everywhere.  A helicopter was roving above us.

Eddie’s truck encircled with smoke. 

Political experiences

It wasn’t the only intense political experience I had, in fact too many to list here.

For example, I remember when; I ‘crossed paths’ with Lorry Sant, then Minister of who knows what.  He turned up at the polling station at the ta’ Paris secondary school, which at the time was one of the Polling Stations and demanded to walk straight in. 

He was stopped at the gates by a lonely police officer who speedily locked the gates.  Thankfully Sant left with his red BMW with his thugs driving in haste behind him. 

It took only a jiffy for the PN toughs to turn up as well. 

It could have turned nasty. 

The hatred this Country was slipping into was absurd.

Struggle

We knew we couldn’t endure a regime, which at the tail end of its legislature was standing between us and what we felt and perceived as being the legitimate right to freedom, to liberties that were being tarnished by intimidators, persecutors, and so called politician of the level of Lorry Sant - another bully himself surrounded by henchmen.

 A sad political chronicle.

Leadership

We passionately and almost blindly supported, il-Mexxej, Dr Eddie Fenech Adami who wore this troubled facial expression, letting go of very little emotions.  It was the face of a man completely focused on his mission. 

He was almost a hybrid between a pastor and a political leader. 

He was astute.  He astonished us with a discourse implanted in Christian values that sounded better than when spoken from a pulpit. He talked about resolution, social needs, collectivity. He was consistent. He made it amply clear without even saying so that he wanted everyone to be part of this coalition coming from whatever social classes, whether of the Left or the Right.   

We were intrigued by him. 

We liked him, passionately, supported him to the hilt and listened to what he said assiduously. 

What message he threw at us, we felt, was all founded on the belief that there was a greater good, that social justice and the duty to do the right thing were at the heart of politics, that self-sacrifice and commitment should be a priority and that it was good to do good. 

We were supported in believing that doing what is right is fundamentally supported by a genuine realization that together we can construct a new country from the foundations up.  A country that creates a fusion between an economy that helps the country grow but not at the cost of endearing more poverty, a society that includes but at the same time draws from a commonly shared moral compass.

He spoke about values, principles and standards that made sense.

Today

Much has been said about the recent events that have seen the PN implode to a state I have not seen in my time. 

We can discuss whether Delia has the legitimacy or whether this is a permissible Coup d'état till our face turns blue. 

But in my opinion the Nationalist Party is not in disarray because it has been hijacked by a group of wannabe leaders or because Simon and his chums want to hang on to power. This is such a simplistic argument.

A Party of that stature and history implodes because it is short of togetherness, is short of soul in the form of inspiration, misses a discourse around coalition building, is absent from the political narrative, does not have a readiness to take on the struggle head-on and lacks solid leadership amongst all its ranks. 

The Nationalists are currently homeless. It is not true that only 13.5% support the PN – those are probably the ones supporting Delia. Some or many are currently choosing to dwell within the comfort of the Labour Party whilst others ‘roam the streets’, vagrant. 

Nothing personal but in my opinion Delia does not have what it takes to bring back the lost sheep.  People have clearly not warmed up to him and he hasn’t got the legacy and the political and ideological acumen to draw back the Nationalists to its fold. 

Unless the Nationalist Party has an inspirational leader who can re-ignite all of this machinery – the end is near.

A big call for Delia, but a necessary one, albeit hapless .

 

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