The Malta Independent 27 January 2022, Thursday

Less lawyer, more fighter

Rachel Borg Saturday, 4 December 2021, 07:21 Last update: about 3 months ago

Consistency and credibility are in short supply in the Partit Nazzjonalista.  There is one voice, though, that makes itself heard above the daily grind, that of Ivan Bartolo, Spokesperson for Social and Affordable Accommodation and the Fight Against Poverty with the Opposition. 

Ivan’s parliamentary interventions are meaningful and convincing of his genuine concern on the topics raised.  He covers many important issues and does not mince about his words as to where the responsibility for the problems lie. 

His personal characteristics are also commendable, coming across as honest and sincere.  He has a passionate approach and does not forget anyone when speaking in Parliament.

Elected in 2017, the party would do well to give him a more prominent role and responsibility.   More should also be adopted of his style and politics.  His voice is the one that fills in all the empty spaces in the PN strategy.   When the PN advisors, consultants and electoral strategy CEOs get together, they should cast aside all the reports and forums and pages of proposals and make a bullet list of Ivan’s points and photo copy them to all the candidates and to the Newsroom.  Take each one, build on it.  And be there for it. 

For example, the PN have an important proposal on their manifesto for the next election.  That of buying the land at Hondoq to turn it into a national park.  However, on Tuesday, at the event called for by the Mayor of Qala, Paul Buttigieg, for people to come out and show their support for the 19 year fight against the application for a yacht marina and hotel village in Hondoq, I did not see anyone from the PN.  Is it possible that a candidate from Gozo did not find the time and the persuasion to make their own voice heard too during the site visit by the PA?  Not only should there have been a candidate or current PN MP but they should have brought others with them.

It is no use being interviewed on Net TV sitting on a chair and then not taking the opportunity to show the belief and the pledge to protect Hondoq.  Waste of paper and waste of air space.

Coming out of the tombola hall and onto the streets is crucial if the PN is to gain any new followers.  Take Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future.  By demonstrating in person outside the Swedish Parliament, Greta has created an international following to fight against climate change. 

The whole of the PN party and activists need to have a weekend seminar by professional speakers on getting out of their comfort zone.  Even house visits, as tiring as they are, do not get close to making a shift in opinion.  If anything distinguishes the Labour Party from the Nationalist Party it is the way that the PL continuously works outside the traditional political comfort zone.  The PL has a model that drives everyone around them to push boundaries and look at new possibilities, good or bad.  It may all be a propaganda job and admittedly it is also very handy for them that they dish out jobs and favours like Christmas elves. But they push down on the pedal.

Yes, we know, many of those proposals and laws are ill-thought out, controversial and actually go against what people would choose but in doing so, the PL keeps the electorate reaching for the next 10% of what they can do and give.  In itself, it is a kind of empowerment for the people to have someone believe in them and tell them they can get out of their comfort zone and reach the next level. In today’s world, that is what defines the past from the present.  How can people begin to believe in themselves when the party does not believe in itself and settles for non-confrontation, quiet conferences and an online media that does not even mention the same policy that was meant to be a vote catcher for Gozo on the day that the PA was there for a site visit?  Maybe they did show up, maybe they did mention it but frankly, there is no connection and they do not appear to be part of the fight.

Such inconsistencies and lack of enthusiasm have become associated with the PN.  The current issues and topics that Bernard Grech is working on are good of themselves but they should not be the full focus because they are a consequence of the shame of Labour.  For example, the amendment to the Standards of Public Life.  Besides the parliamentary motions, it would have been far better for the party to stand publicly and come out in favour of the protest held by the civil society organization Repubblika.  That cold evening, the PN members should have walked out of parliament and joined the people and the protest.  The need to connect the outside to the internal workings is essential if the PN are to make themselves known to the public and try to shift some minds and energise the voters.

Less lawyer and more fighter is the kind of approach that is essentially missing.  Stronger views and immediate reactions because all members should be able to grasp the policy at the tip of their fingertips and not wait for monitored instruction on how they process politics.

Maltese people have a strong ambition.  For themselves, for their children, their income and their prospects.  This is the energy they get from Labour, who will create a competition or an ambition out of nowhere, even if it does not already exist.  Anything goes.  Most slogans talk of “the best”.   Nothing less in the minds of people would convince them.

Grech needs to leave the lawyering to the Parliamentary Secretary and connect to the people with an energy of commitment to their well-being and follow through on the many good proposals the party has put forward, on the ground.  This is not about socializing.  It is about doing politics for people, listening and acting swiftly both ahead of grievances and pro-actively.

Journalists, activists and TV personalities cannot continue doing all of the heavy lifting.  They should actually be able to find that the PN is already there, enabling change and making a difference.

Break up the “qaqocca” and bring about a culture of self-belief, hard work and social policies that reflect today’s ambitions, realities and needs.  The business sector is well represented and has several occasions to discuss their needs and learn of the proposals of the Nationalist party.

But what of the ordinary citizen, who goes beyond water and electricity bills?  What of the prisons, the arts, health and housing?  What about, especially, the environment both on climate change and on the built up urbanization?  Corruption and hunting have exceeded all limits.

Putting people at the center means focusing outwards to whatever influences their peace of mind, their pocket and their jobs.  In time, to create a tapestry of people interwoven with members of parliament to work hand in hand for positive change.  With trust, vision and a sense of present and future commitment.

 

 

 

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