What is the PN?

Labour apologists and supporters have suddenly become the new elite, the new know-it-alls who talk down at anything non-Labour. They now claim, rather haughtily, that the PN need to wake up, clean their silly act and become a strong opposition.

Talk about the tables being turned. For over a quarter of a century, the PN and its supporters harangued Labour to get their act together, oppose positively and play their part in our democracy.

Our parties in power—and many of us commentators, right, wrong or soft-centred—have a seemingly congenital lack of humility.

These shenanigans sound like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

You gloat about winning handsomely. You can lie back in comfort, run the country or goad on the ones you adore and support to carry on ruining the country. You view the world objectively and declare how lovely it would be to have a party that could cut you—and your own party—to size and into a million shattered pieces.

Ideally for democracy you should add that it would be perfect if your own lot, your own choice of governor, is dumped into the moat of history by the ravenous electorate.

The reality of course is not at all like Alice’s. No supporter, no integral component of the Labour Party, really cares about the PN. All Labourites would love the PN to hide in a hole for the next 20 years or so. As Labour did for the interminable years of PN dominance.

It’s interesting that in the four glorious years of Labour dominance, the formerly decimated party of Alfred Sant and his goons has been totally transformed once again. It had gone from a party in tatters with no whiff of power for a whole generation to a movement that resembled a biblical call to renewal and renaissance. Joseph and his amazing ways injected hope and buzzwords seemed to flow out of his every pore.

But during four years of power the Labour Movement shed its mask of being good to and for all, turned inward and forgot all about good governance, meritocracy and transparency. It moved from loser party to triumphant movement to a party that promises and delivers wealth at whatever cost. Wealth especially to its cronies and close associates who keep in check anything that could loosen its grip on power.

It empowered all its supporters and others to feel good with their situation, taking spin to an amazing level of perfection. It is a well-oiled machine that hardly ever speaks off-brand—even if the brand itself is rotten at the core.

People like the look of Labour; its façade is good, so why bother scratching off the cover? We lead a good life so why allow the Queen of Hearts to heartlessly chop off the head of our beloved Labour leaders?

And in the sad meantime the PN has lost its way. The party and many bystanders thought they had hit on the best strategy, handed to them on a plate by the party in power—corruption, scandals and cronyism were rampant as never before. Even internationally our situation was seen as dubious. So the PN reasoning was fight that with all possible might.

And yet the majority—the huge, silent majority­—in Malta and even in Gozo—didn’t much care for this strong position taken by the PN.

The PN is facing an existential crisis. Changing leader, even if the right thing to do, will hardly be enough.

A long sad look at the mirror will reveal that the mirror itself needs changing. The PN is still relevant with an important part to play in our national scenario. But unless it radically shakes up its foundations, structures and basic reason for existence, it will remain a dejected, rejected, jaded part of our local politics.

It is a bitter pill to swallow but the PN must now move away from principles, values or the moral high ground. It is right and proper to spout allegiance to values but what do you do if the electorate has rejected them?

Labour is—and has been for at least the past 9 years—run professionally, like a brand, a brand that works and delivers or gives the perception that it delivers. The PN is like a good outfit run on an amateur level.

In politics, especially in local politics, being cynical and business-wise wins it all. Until the PN try emulating Labour they are doomed to scream, shout and galvanise only their own grassroots, who are old and decaying, while Labour go on gloating.

See next week’s article about all brands needing a rethink