PN is not dead. If it were, the press wouldn’t be dedicating so many column inches to analysing it.
If PN were dead, it wouldn’t matter to Lovin Malta that the party is opposing the government’s plan to legalise cannabis.
Nor would the press be publishing a survey almost every week to monitor even the slightest of polling changes.
If the PN were dead, the party wouldn’t be having passionate discussions internally, while attracting a long list of bright young minds whose dedication should not be confused with delusion.
The truth is that PN is very much alive. And it is going through an important stage, which merits better treatment and analysis from the press.
Whoever thought Bernard Grech could turn around PN’s fortunes in a few months was unrealistic: both in terms of what it takes to organise a political party, but also in terms of what Labour has done to Malta.
Thanks to the capture of various institutions, Labour has emerged relatively unscathed from some of the worst moments in our political history.
Despite being held responsible for the murder of a journalist…
Despite being exposed for opening up secret Panama companies within days of being elected…
Despite giving away the public’s resources including our hospitals and energy sectors to a small group of rich rent-seekers who betrayed the country…
Despite continuing to steal taxpayer money in phantom jobs and direct orders to friends…
Despite relaxing planning laws and enforcement that have resulted in the destruction of our built environment…
Despite ruining Malta’s reputation to the point of getting us greylisted…
Despite having a Prime Minister who enriched himself from the State and continues to protect his criminal friends…
…Labour continues to be treated as an entity that is acting in good faith.
On the other hand, the Nationalist Party is deemed “dead” – not because it is failing to propose important changes for the country (we were actually criticised for ‘giving away too many ideas’ in recent months) – but because it took a clear stand against abortion and the government’s cannabis bill.
So why is this happening?
First of all, because journalists and commentators are not immune to the taxpayer-funded propaganda of the government, which has been pushing the narrative of PN’s demise since 2013.
The Labour government has an army of communications specialists who often deploy ‘carrot and stick’ methods to influence the media’s agenda. I would know, I was on the receiving end of it. It leaves an impact, even if you feel it doesn’t.
Labour does lots of things to keep journalists on their side. And then it does things like getting trolls to attack journalists, or attempting to respond to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder by trying to ‘reform’ the press.
If the PN were dead, government would not have to do any of that.
Nor would the government have to take over TVM and make sure that the first five headlines are always reserved for ministers saying how good they are.
If PN were dead, there wouldn’t be so many people constantly trying to influence it.
Ironically, one of PN’s difficulties today is the fact that it has attracted so many good people of various ideologies. Not because PN is dead, but because they know the potential of the party – and because Bernard Grech is a moderate leader who empowers all of those who work with him.
Even when PN falters, it is wrong to take it for granted. As the only political platform that can begin to compete with Labour, it is doing an important service to the country. And it is in the country’s interest to help strengthen PN, not to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of its passing.
If PN dies, it is the press who will face the brunt of it first. And then it will be the NGOs. And then it will be ordinary citizens who depend on the press and NGOs to fight for justice, truth and freedom.
If PN dies, there will be nothing stopping Labour from giving more of the State’s resources to their friends, while eliminating anyone who stands in their way.
The worst actions by Labour have always happened when PN was at its weakest.
Sure, sometimes PN creates problems of its own making. And sometimes it takes positions that do not sit well with those who have a divergent point of view.
But it does so due to genuine internal debate and to fulfil its mission of representing the public that votes for it.
What the country needs right now is for more people to join PN and for them to participate in the many ongoing internal discussions. The more people participating, the better the PN’s decisions will be.
Scrutiny and criticism are important, and even this can help PN to get better, but if we give up on the PN, we will all be worse off.
Chris Peregin is the PN’s Chief Strategist and Lovin Malta’s former CEO. This article is in response to an opinion piece, lamenting how the PN had no vision, was reliant on an outdated parliamentary group, and far too focused on an anti-government position.
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Is the PN dead?