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No more heroes

There's nothing heroic about the saga to get Delia into parliament

It has been both painful and faintly ridiculous to watch the new PN leader Adrian Delia seek and find an MP to give up his parliamentary seat for him, by pressure or persuasion, carrot or stick. Listening to the radio in the car (stuck in traffic) over the last few days, I have heard listeners enthusiastically describe this MP as a ‘hero’.

Just a minute. No political party should be required to sacrifice a hero, just to be able stay in the game. Will the PN also have to depend on finding a ‘hero’ at other leadership elections in future? What if it proves impossible after all? God help us. The PN must revise its statute, at the earliest opportunity, to avoid this.

One of the most famous books on heroes and hero-worship was written by Thomas Carlyle in Victorian Britain. Carlyle promoted the cult of the ‘great man’, a powerful, strong and inspired man (ahem, never a woman…) with the power and inspiration to change the world for the better. Today we are taught that everyone is special and great, and all are talented ‘in their own way’. Not so in the nineteenth-century worldview of Carlyle.

Carlyle admired military men, big prophets, poets and priests. He was interested in the characteristics of figures like Shakespeare, Martin Luther, Dante, Napoleon and Cromwell. But his love of the hero was out of fashion even before the world experienced the disastrous impact of twentieth-century ‘strong men’ and dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Castro, who were first revered like heroes.

Occasionally we still speak of heroes, with admiration. Mostly related to somebody risking their own safety to save lives. Some of the firefighters at the Twin Towers on 9/11 were heroes. A man jumping into the sea to save somebody from drowning could be a hero. For many, Schindler was a hero in the Second World War. I rarely hear this word used in any other context today, unless perhaps to describe courageous men like Neil Armstrong and his ‘giant leap for mankind’.

I can appreciate that MP Jean Pierre Debono could be finding it difficult, on a personal level, to give up his new parliamentary seat which he has only had since June. But, hey, didn’t he campaign for Delia to become leader? Debono knew full well, like we all did, that Delia is not an MP and that he would have to take somebody’s else’s seat to lead the Opposition.

It was obviously never going to be straightforward for Delia to persuade an MP to make way for him. No surprises there. This is the Nationalist Party, after all, not some totalitarian outfit where everybody obeys the great leader. Surely Delia did not imagine that everyone would just bow down to him gracefully. At the Stamperija, it seems, there can be as many strong views and big opinions as there are people in the room. And this is not necessarily a weakness.

It seems only fair that it should now be one of the MPs who pushed for Delia’s victory to give up their seat. Nothing especially heroic about it. You sleep in the bed you make, that’s all.

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