In short, because he does not stand a chance of ever being elected. He is unfit for high office. Last April, Adrian Delia achieved his best trust ratings yet – 21.5 per cent. Only 52 per cent of 2017 PN voters trusted Delia. Of these only 61 per cent would bother to vote. Is it because of Simon Busuttil and his ‘faction’? No. Delia has only himself to blame for his abysmal ratings.
A considerable proportion of PN voters is made up of the 1980s generation that struggled against corruption, intimidation, and violence. They were driven by a strong set of values and principles, inspired by the honesty and integrity of a leader who stood out as the perennial nemesis of the autocratic Labour government. That core can never bring itself to vote for a leader suspected of dishonesty.
When it was revealed that Delia had owned an account in Jersey through which thousands of pounds were transferred, he said he could not remember. He flatly denied that he had opened such an account – only to be thwarted by the miraculous recovery of a certain Kris Bajada.
When Boris Arcidiacono accused Delia of having sneakily transferred €86,210 into his own account without authorisation, Delia could not remember whether he had given the bank any form of authorisation from the client. The client denied having authorised the transfer. Delia had requested €116,279 for securing a loan of €800,000 – a 14.5 per cent cut. Nothing less than staggering greed and narcissism could lead to such a demand.
When Delia submitted his nomination for leader he refused to publish his statement of affairs. He would only do so if he were elected. At the very last minute he published it and the contents explained his reluctance - he owed hundreds of thousands in home loans and a further €104,000 on credit cards and overdrafts. The man who expected to become prime minister also owed the exchequer over €80,000.
In May 2018, Delia provided “hard evidence” that his tax dispute had been settled – he paid €81,000 – several months after claiming that his tax bill had been settled. In January 2019 it transpired that Delia still owed the exchequer another €64,000. When asked to clarify, his answer was – “Adrian Delia cannot confirm or deny any of your questions without being given the opportunity to see and analyse the said documents you claim to have”. Does he need documents to remember whether he still owes the exchequer €64,000? Why the convenient amnesia?
The details of the tax bill dating from 2014 to 2017 had not been revealed in his 2017 statement prior to the leadership election – was he not aware of the outstanding €64,086 at the time? Had he forgotten about this too? Does this omission not invalidate the result of the election?
In December 2016 Delia was president of Birkirkara football club. He suspected that the goalkeeper was involved in match fixing.
Together with members of the club committee he ‘kidnapped’ the goalkeeper, drove him to a garage in Buġibba and tried to extract a confession. When confronted with these allegations, Delia did not deny that the goalkeeper was taken to a garage but claimed that he “came of his own volition”. In one of his Facebook posts Delia wrote “Football is battered... most will never care,... but a few... some... even if only one must fight on.” Presumably the ‘one’ was himself.
In May 2017, Birkirkara FC under Delia lost its Uefa licence and was kicked out of the Europa league due to failure to submit mandatory documentation. This was the high point of Delia’s presidency – after which the ‘one’ who wanted to fight on, abandoned his club.
A proportion of PN voters is made up of the 1980s generation that struggled against corruption and violence
In August 2017, Delia’s major property interest Mġarr developments’ €7.2 million euro debt was revealed. Delia lashed out at Caruana Galizia who had revealed it.
The property was bought from a certain Tumas Group company – the director of which is Yorgen Fenech. At the time Delia claimed that repaying the debt “shouldn’t take longer than 18 months”. The 18 months are up but the debt still stands.
When asked how he could afford over €9,000 of payments per month while earning only €2,700 as Opposition leader he declined to comment. Transparency especially in financial matters is not a choice for a potential future prime minister.
The financial disarray of the leader is not the main reason making him unfit for office. The main reason for this is his character – his dishonesty, divisiveness, and untrustworthiness. He is not fit to lead any political party, far less the country.
While paying lip service to improving the lot of “thousands and thousands of the weak” he missed several opportunities to contribute personally by paying his taxes.
He claims that the doors of the party are open – yet fails to meet his own MPs for months. He drowns out the views of thousands of PN supporters ruthlessly controlling the party media. He states that anybody who attacks any of the PN MPs is attacking him but only after stating that he has no time to waste with one of his own MPs.
Dissenting voices including the youth arm of the same party are chastised publicly by Delia’s right hand man and PN’s executive committee president who drummed up the courage to resign was viciously hounded and denigrated.
Delia’s decisions as leader have demonstrated his incompetence and lack of vision.
Despite the scandal of the db group financing, Delia continued to hold social events in db owned hotels – a clear message that the PN is open for any business, a view confirmed by Kristy Debono and Hermann Schiavone’s visit to Yorgen Fenech.
Delia pounced on populist issues such as ‘immigration’ in a desperate attempt to improve his ratings – a tactic used by the extreme right since the dark days of the 1930s. He turned the European election into a referendum on abortion while knowing full well that he would lose badly.
Within hours of the publication of the Egrant report he decided to stab his predecessor in the back.
The PN grass roots who had already been alienated by Delia’s financial imprudence, his hostile attacks on Caruana Galizia and the media were inflamed by this attack. Delia gave credibility to the report that only the Prime Minister and a crowd of his insiders had seen.
The report was based on an investigation that had not even raided the home and offices of the alleged owner of the notorious Panama company and her spouse – or those of the protected Nexia BT who definitely had the information. The investigation failed to establish who the Panama company belonged to. Yet, Delia swallowed it line and sinker – because it suited him.
After two years as leader it remains unclear what Delia’s policies are, on which political philosophy they are based and whether the new way means anything at all.
He is clearly out of his depth and compensates by turning public life into a game in which charm and presence eclipse policy and substance.
And despite all this, Delia clings on, egged on by those who depend on his position for their very livelihood and by the Labour Party which has recognised what an asset Delia is to them. The longer he lingers the more lasting the damage caused to party and country.
He fails to realise that he cannot unite the party, gain the trust of even the PN’s diehard supporters, or ever win.
Those around him will not make a move – because it is not in their own personal interest, or for fear of being accused of treason. As Rome burns, Debono nitpicks over who has paid his membership fee while her husband determines who can vote.
In the meantime, Joseph Muscat continues to pulverise what is left of the democratic institutions and the national reputation that a Nationalist government painstakingly built.
Kevin Cassar is a former PN candidate in the 2017 election, a Professor of Surgery and a Consultant Vascular Surgeon.