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How very kind of you Dottore!

Being a leader of a party is very different from being the president of a football club

After the faux pas in trying to claim his party’s roots while failing to contextualise “Latins and Catholics” in the 21st century and move onto the realities of a diverse society, Dr Delia goes on to the Loving Malta portal and decides to share with us his very own homespun anthropology.

There he reassured us all how “simple” we as a people all are and how in his words, we all seem to love an assortment of hobbies, which as it happens, betray a vision of the world which is severely handicapped by an outdated sense of patronising and patriarchal benevolence.

As he was reported saying (and indeed as he said on video): “Maltese people aren't very complicated, indeed they're very simple people. They want to wake up in the morning, they want to go to work and afterwards they want to enjoy their hobbies — some go to their garage to work on their car, others have their birds and things, others enjoy their motorsports … it’s a very simple, Mediterranean life and the PN must go back to its roots and understand that this is where we came from.”

It would be kind to simply say he is inexperienced, but here Dr Delia does not only confirm how poor and stereotypical is his political understanding, but he also confirms how distanced he remains from the realities of modern society. He seems to deny that Maltese society has evolved in three decades, particularly during subsequent Nationalist and Labour governments spanning from those led by Fenech Adami and Gonzi, to Sant and Muscat.

Here we have a PN leader making statements which actually confirm how out of touch he is in his political knowledge of his own country, not only by failing to appreciate that a leader of a Party is very different from being the President of a local football club, but more so in confirming his crass underestimation of his political opponents—i.e. Muscat’s PL—which in the last four years have successfully taken on, log stock and barrel, the battle cry of aspirations by which the PN used to hit at the then MLP.

In this I see not only a high degree of carelessness but an unprepared leader who, having the opportunity to rise to statesmanship in a Mass Meeting that was commemorating Malta’s Independence, he chooses to reduce his own maiden speech to a series of disconnected platitudes that we haven't heard for a long time, and in a tone that makes a mockery of political oratory. Delia should know that many aspiring Labourite politicians have quickly realised that there was only one Dom Mintoff, and that trying to use his oratory of pauses and attacks, mockery and jokes, claim and affirmation, will make one look like an idiot.

As Delia continues to appear in front of the public clearly unprepared, I do wonder whether those who claim that he has the so-called “gift of the gab” are realising that this supposedly gifted “gab” is putting him in many an awkward position.

I would suggest that he stops, listens and prepares, as the worse is still to come—and this won’t come from Labour (because these days, the PL machine is far more savvy than Delia might think), but from his own quarters, where some are evidently disturbed by his facile foot-in-mouth approach to politics.

What really left me aghast is Dr Delia’s approach to the world from his distinctly male conservative perspective

Be that as it may, what really left me aghast is Dr Delia’s approach to the world from his distinctly male conservative perspective. In his selective approach to what he calls the Maltese’s “simple” and “uncomplicated” life, Dr Delia reveals a very limited skill-set in not realising that what he has characterised is not only male-centred, but smacks of a patronising attitude towards a segment of the Maltese population.

His reductivist view of good people going to work, and then go home and bugger off to one’s garage or to one’s “birds and things”, is not only absurd but insulting. Anyone hearing this kind of characterisation has no choice but to wonder whether this new politician is really conscious of what he’s saying. Delia’s overconfident attitude towards matters that people care for has already lead him into a cul-de-sac, especially when he claims to be the defender of Maltese values. How could this work if in one instance you simplify the Maltese individual’s life to some pseudo-idyllic routine, and then address the ambitions of Maltese society in the 21st century in all its complexities?

Haven’t we endured enough colonial banter from those who used to regard Maltese people as stupid “dolce far niente colonials”? Haven't we had enough of self-inflicted orientalist balderdash, in trying to fulfil the stereotype of “the laid-back” West Oriental Gentleman?

To claim that we are so simple and uncomplicated could only reinforce those vestiges of a sense of inferiority which remains imprinted in the Maltese imaginary. But to come from someone who is neither a coloniser and far less someone who could claim to be new to this society, is frankly careless and a travesty.

I would be the first to object to those who think that Malta is the centre of the world. I have always detested those who think that somehow, the Maltese are some special breed, not found anywhere. However, this does not mean that the Maltese have no real ambitions to move on.

Do Nationalists agree with this kind of a PN that Delia is envisioning “going back to its roots”? Do the Maltese recognise themselves in this rather limited vision of what they are? Do we really see ourselves as simple folk?

How kind of the Dottore to remind us where our place is!

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