The two PN leadership contenders Chris Said and Adrian Delia had their last opportunity to face each other in a one on one debate ahead of the vote tomorrow.
The debate had it occasional sparks flying both ways, each insisting that their vision for the PN is the better way forward. References to corruption, personal attacks and the future of the party made the one hour debate fairly interesting.
PN leadership contender Adrian Delia kick started the debate by saying that the PN was a strong and courageous party by making the best decisions, not the easy ones, but the good ones.
He said that the PN chose to move away from the British Empire and chose independence. “We chose Europe, while Labour preferred to stay where it was. It did not believe in the people,” he said.
“We had four electoral losses. We are at a cross road and I think it’s time to change the way we do politics. Our principles will not change, neither our values. That’s the Labour Party which has a problem with principle.”
Chris Said took off by explaining his ‘right way’ and was asked by the moderator to say how this will be different from previous politics.
He said he had the opportunity to meet thousands of people and saw the interest in this election.
Said explained that the public is so interested because this is after all, an election of a potential Prime Minister.
“Back in 1977, the PN came after two huge electoral defeats and the party chose Eddie Fenech Adami. Now we know that he did not become a photocopy of Labour. He kept on going in the right way and was successful. He won an election after another. Not just for the party but for the country as a whole. We cannot spend the next five years defending ourselves.”
Said also condemned the personal attacks by journalists or bloggers.
Five minutes into the debate, Said and Delia started to spark off slowly. Delia said that Chris Said must be reading some section of the media which dictates the PN agenda.
“By unification, I mean the unity in the PN. I never referred to Mintoff as you are implying,” Delia said.
The debate moved on with another question – how will the PN be different from the Labour Party? Delia said that the Nationalist Party has always moved on its values. He said the principles dictate our decisions, such as democracy. He said that the PN always valued freedom of expression and the value of life.
“Let’s not be the elitists who think we know everything. The PN will never be another version of labour,” he told Chris Said. “We need to listen to the people without being populists.”
Chris Said said that there are a lot of things which distinguish the PN from Labour.
He said this is why we cannot be in a position to defend ourselves and comfortable speaking about corruption. “The values and principles will always make us different from PL. The Labour Party has sold its soul, we are different in this regard.”
On the balance between moral decisions and popularity with the public, Chris Said explained that the party should base its decisions on the principle of solidarity, a principle which can be used for a whole political manifesto. He made reference to the fact that he has been campaigning for five months while his counterpart had the luxury to watch as he and the party were fighting in the last general election.
Adrian Delia rebutted by saying that most of the public are not politicians and said that Said maybe does not understand their role in an election.
Chris Said intervened and Delia played the ‘new politician’ card and said that being knew to politics, he is used to wait and allow the other contender to speak when it’s his time to do so. On prostitution, Delia said that Labour Party wants to put a price on the human body and warned that the PN should take a clear position.
“It’s a clear no for abortion. We should fight this and remove politics from the debate.”
The contenders were asked how they intend to convince youths to be more involved in politics. Chris Said said that the PN needs to become a party for the youths. He referred to the party members saying that only a few are under 30 years of age. He said there needs to be party officials who are under 30 years of age. “Let’s make politics interesting for the youths.”
Delia said that the PN should not have politics for youths, but have a party made up of youths. “We need the youths to be part of us, when they participate in the decision making process.”
He explained that by youths he does not mean those under 30 years of age, but also those who are mentally still young and fresh. Chris Said did not like this comment and said that Delia seemed not to understand what he is proposing.
“I am saying exactly that, to have youths in every sector of the party.” Said remarked how Delia used phrases similarly used by the Labour Party when the government lashed out at the PN for being too negative.
Adrian Delia said that he is willing to take the good ideas presented by Said and work together where possible.
He said that the true uphill struggle is four years away, not today. Said referred to the satisfaction he felt during this campaign when he sees so many people who love the party.
The debate moved towards personal attacks and Delia thanked Chris Said for condemning them.
“I have been attacked multiple times by your people and you haven’t condemned them. The PN has always condemned personal attacks.”
The two commented on the campaign. Chris Said said that there were speaks of establishment in the PN.
“The only establishment is in Castille, with Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. The establishment are those people who called people from inside the party not to vote for me,” Dalia added. He took offence at a photo shown by Chris Said showing Eddie Fenech Adami and Lawrence Gonzi. Delia said that he did not create that photo but Said insisted and challenged Delia to say who ‘the establishment’ in the PN is.
“Do not invite name dropping two days before an election, when we have to work together in a couple of days,” Delia replied.
For the last few minutes, before the lashing was taken a bit too far, Chris Said said that the four contenders risked a lot to serve the party. “I have full respect to the other three and they have a role to play in the party.” Delia said that his character is very different from Chris Said. “Said will have a strong contribution in the party.”
In concluding, Chris Said announced that he will now start campaigning for the year 2030 based on work, education and heath among others. Adrian Delia closed off by saying that his message is of hope, that the PN needs to look at itself and reflect while looking into the future.
The debate was moderated by Jes Saliba.
Nationalist Party leadership hopefuls Adrian Delia (left) and Chris Said greet each other at the start of last night’s final debate ahead of Saturday’s election