Fi­nal face-off

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel Schem­bri

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.

Photo: Na­tion­al­ist Party

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

Chris Said

Adrian Delia

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