I was featured for an interview in September 2017, during the election campaign for the leader of the Nationalist Party.
Following the general election defeat in 2017 and the resignation of Simon Busuttil, although I was very new to politics and very inexperienced within the PN corridors, it was very apparent to me that the party was crying out loud for an overhaul and not just a service. This is because of my experience with politics in organisations.
At the time when the interview took place, the leadership race had been narrowed down to two candidates ‒ Chris Said and Adrian Delia. While throughout the interview I never explicitly said that I had decided to vote for Delia, I made it very clear I was convinced that the party required an overhaul and therefore I was going to vote for the ‘New Way’.
I walked the talk, and at Delia’s last public meeting in Valletta, before the vote on the Saturday, I had publicly declared that I was supporting Delia and encouraged people to vote for an overhaul, to vote for the ‘New Way’.
On November 17, 2017, on the Nationalist Party media, Delia, accompanied by Pierre Portelli, announced that I was his choice to lead the business development arm of the Nationalist Party. It was a role I gladly accepted as I was, and still am, convinced that the party requires an overhaul.
Without wasting any time, I held several meetings with Ann Fenech in which she had kindly given me a handover of all the financial-related matters.
I must add that Fenech was very thorough, and the quality of her work was nothing less than professional. Using all the information and knowledge made available to me, I had worked and created a financial strategy to put the PN assets to work to create the much-needed cash. This was an evolution of the financial strategy that Fenech was pursuing.
I presented the evolved financial strategy to the leadership team of the PN. After a high quality discussion, it became very apparent to me that Delia embraced the presented financial strategy. He gave me clear instructions to go ahead and start working on its implementation. But others were not sure about it and informed the meeting that the financial strategy was not fit for purpose due to constraints imposed on it by the party statute.
The PN must wake up to its reality. Riding on the back of Labour’s mistakes and shortcomings is not going to get it elected
I did not buy that excuse. People are simply afraid of what they do not understand.
The choice was between the Nationalist Party attempting to raise €14 million and setting itself up for success through transformation and innovation, or remaining in the status quo due to its own statute, which could have easily been revised and amended. The ‘New Way’ was all about radical change. Why did the status quo prevail? Why are most people afraid to venture out of their comfort zone?
Between January 2018 and June 2019, I personally witnessed the roots of this status quo become stronger, more adamant and stubborn. The only tool available left to me and others who understood how this status quo was, and still is, choking the PN was to call for a vote of no confidence in its leader.
As I said in several articles published between June and July 2019, our objective was to break the status quo as the Nationalist Party was and, still is, positioning itself for self-destruction.
While I always knew that Delia would win the vote of confidence, I also knew the vote would enforce a wave for change.
Knowing that Delia would be reconfirmed as leader of the Nationalist Party, I wanted to create the opportunity for him to implement the ‘New Way’ that he had campaigned for so much.
On July 5, 2019, Louis Galea was appointed to lead a much desirable and needed transformation in the Nationalist Party.
Those of us rallying for change within the PN won our first battle that day. Delia won the vote of confidence on July 28. The real winner was the Nationalist Party as it retained its leader; but it also started its change journey.
Seven months have passed since those of us rallying for change within the party won that first battle. But I fear that we are about to lose the war. I honestly hope I am wrong. I know for a fact that Galea has put forward tangible recommendations for change, and like my own financial strategy, these recommendations seem to be falling on deaf ears. These changes are facing resistance as internal politics, driven by personal agendas, are sucking out the much-needed oxygen for these new ideas to grow their own roots.
Yet again, the fear of the unknown, the comfort zone and personal interests, for some, are way more important than what the Nationalist Party and our country need.
If the PN aspires to be the change agent for Malta, it must lead the way, show the way and go the way. The only way to do so is by starting with its own internal change, and in doing so, acknowledge that it has no more time to waste.
By procrastinating, the Nationalist Party is only making itself irrelevant. Change is a must; the party must reinvent itself. It needs to seriously think about its competitive space and devise a strategy that will enable it to regain the lost ground. What are we waiting for?
Complementing the credible process and quality outcome from the work carried out by Galea, last Sunday, through the media, it emerged that Claudio Grech has worked on a strategy document for the Nationalist Party.
Although I have not seen the document and had no opportunity to review its content, knowing Grech, I have no doubt that the document is a quality one and that all recommendations within it are SMART. In other words, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
The Nationalist Party now has recommendations for structural change and a recommended strategy. This is truly good news.
It now needs to implement the structural change and provide space for new people who will work with the leadership team to implement the proposed strategy. In other words, finally, give birth to the ‘New Way’.
The PN must wake up to its reality. Riding on the back of Labour’s mistakes and shortcomings is not going to get it elected. What will get it elected is change, especially in attitude.
The party needs to quickly implement the desirable and much needed change as the next election may be as early as the last three months of this year.
The ‘New Way’ was all about radical change. Why did the status quo prevail?
Ivan Bartolo is an entrepreneur and former PN candidate.