Jamie Vella explains why he, as a progressive, became an active PN member despite the party's often conservative ways
Posted by Lovin Malta on Friday, May 21, 2021
It may sound quite contradictory for a politician to describe themselves as being both progressive and an active supporter of the Nationalist Party.
Yet Jamie Vella, the 24-year-old president of the party’s equality forum (FOIPN), insists there’s no such problem.
“I made the conscious decision to give my support to the PN at the age of 14-15 because I always saw it as the bigger-picture party,” he told Lovin Malta in an interview.
“There may be individual issues where many people might not agree with our stance but generally I always felt that it has the bigger picture in mind when governing Malta – case in point is its historic campaign towards EU accession, an upholding of a good relationship in diplomatic corps and a long-term vision for Malta.”
Two main ‘progressive’ issues which Malta is currently tackling are cannabis reform and abortion decriminalisation.
While the PL has proposed the full-on legalisation of cannabis and the introduction of cannabis social clubs, the PN has yet to take a stance either way. Meanwhile, the PN has adamantly opposed the proposed decriminalisation of abortion, with the PL sitting on the fence and not taking an official position either way.
With regards abortion, Vella said progressive-minded people must realise the PN has historically been against it, so much that it’s actually enshrined in its statute.
As such, he urged PN activists to tackle other issues related to sexual health, referring to the party’s recent stance in favour of free contraception.
“I’m personally more of a doer in the sense that if I have five issues in front of me and I know two of them are very locked in their place and the possibility of shifting minds is close to impossible, I’d rather tackle the other three issues which can still offer realistic solutions.”
As for cannabis reform, Vella defended the PN’s reluctance to come up with a stance so far by pointing out that the government has yet to publish a bill following feedback from a recent White Paper.
“We’re presenting ourselves as an alternative government so we need to actually know what the government is proposing,” he argued.
Challenged about this viewpoint, he said the PL seems to be torn about the issue – with the party calling for legalisation and the government not yet taking an official stance.
“We’d like to see which direction the government would like to take the issue in, the PN will then issue its own position,” he said. “We have a responsibility to ensure our policies are well-thought-out. If you’re looking for a swift response, I don’t think you will get it. I think it’s a bit irresponsible to come up with a swift response just for the sake of addressing an issue at a faster pace.”
Vella urged progressive-minded people who feel disillusioned at the PN’s stances on these and other issues to join the party and drive certain conversations forward.
“I reached the point in my late teens when I thought I could either grumble about what I don’t like within PN and remain limited to social media posts and Instagram stories or else I could take a step forward, militate in the PN and drive certain conversations forward,” he recounted.
“Sometimes you’re satisfied with small victories and realise your involvement made a difference, sometimes certain views take longer to shift, while other views remain consistently the same.”
“Don’t expect overnight change but things are changing – the PN is becoming a kinder party, not to imply that it has ever been unkind but that it’s becoming more sensitive to the greyness of humanity.”