OPINION: THE PN – WHAT NOW?

Dr Bernard Grech, leader of the Nationalist Party (PN), has received the strong support he needed from the party’s General Council voters in the internal election for confirmation as party leader for the next five years. In his acceptance speech, he referred to several areas where, now that his tenure has been strengthened, he plans to see improvements and also outright changes.

Certainly, the PN’s financial situation will occupy much of his time. But to give that facet more focus than other equally important areas would of course be a grave mistake. And the list of these areas is, in fact, quite extensive. Take his intention to strengthen the party’s political academy AZAD, as an example. AZAD, originally created by one of the great past stalwarts of the party, Dr Censu Tabone, has been fortunate to have been managed by some very hardworking and loyal administrators in the past, but now a rethink and rejuvenation of what it does, and how it does it, will certainly serve the party well.

Another area where much more detailed planning, and rigid ensuring that then the results of such plans are implemented day by day, is that of house visits. Talk to any voter in Malta, and of whichever party, and they will all tell you that they see their district’s, or their village’s, politicians in houses and/or even local streets, only during the last few months (if not weeks!) before general election day. This certainly does not help to establish any party’s knowledge and familiarity with the people’s real needs on the ground.

Early indications are that the PN’s plans are to be both more efficient and also more forceful in the work carried out by its elected representatives to Parliament. To take a simple example: if government ministers resort to past tricks and practices in the way they treat and answer (or not answer) parliamentary questions, then yes the PN must make sure that such insulting behaviour towards democracy is publicized to the four winds. PQs should no longer molly-coddle any recalcitrant minister or parliamentary secretary.  

Bernard Grech did not say anything about structures he plans to have in place to help him see that actions and targets get the party to where he wishes to see it. The names of his close counsellors are not known, and it would certainly be wrong if he relies upon and constantly consults only on those near to him, day after day.  He must widen his contact mechanisms in such a way that inflows of opinions, suggestions, action, indeed also of warnings about anything being contemplated, and indeed also inside knowledge of what is done or being contemplated at the Mile End end of our parties system, well Bernard will have to work hard on all of these areas.

There is no doubting Bernard Grech’s integrity, honesty, and constant disposition for hard work.  His constant appeals for unity at all levels of his party should be enthusiastically and loyally listened to.  Disappointed individuals should never allow themselves to be used against their own party by opposition spokesmen.