Dad, political sociologist, local councillor, drummer from Malta

Saturday, September 09, 2017

GUEST POST: What will you do with what we started?


By a Volunteer, PN 2017 Electoral Campaign

Dear Adrian and Chris, 

I've been involved in other election campaigns in the past, however the 2017 election was different. This time I was there for a cause. It was not just about electing a party into government, it was about being on the right side of things. 

My involvement started off as a minor contribution but as the events unfolded, what should have been a marketing think tank, ended up becoming the unofficial campaign group. Some of us had never been involved in the party before. Others had been there ever since. What kept us going was a strong belief that this time things had to change. 

By the end of it, we were leaving our base in the early morning hours and waking up again there. Some of us were clearly deprived of sleep. But it did not matter. The cause was much bigger. Every day we came across people who switched back. Some of these we never thought would ever do so, let alone help out and endorse PN publicly.

This really encouraged us to work harder. We turned ideas round at a speed we never imagined possible. We produced videos at a fraction of the normal production times. We were not alone in this. Our families had to be patient enough to go through it with us.

In hindsight it still remains a meaningful experience. Through it I learnt a lot.

I learnt that passion is key! The more people joined the volunteer team, the more I realized that what was common between us was the passion to prove to the world that Malta can do better and that our leaders should not be anywhere close to the allegations of corruption we have read about. (You could be legalistic about proof, or the lack of it, however I believe that it is simply lowering the standard of what an inspiring leader should be).

As a team we shared an aspiration to deliver a campaign like never before. We aimed to restore PN's reputation, as one which is closer to the people, and one which can continue shaping the lives of people as it has done in the past. We put in a lot of effort to do things in a different way...and we did. 

Behind us was the difficult experience the party had gone through in 2013. That defeat humbled the members of the party. Contrary to what some think, the party was very realistic on the prospects of it winning. We opted to not lose hope in context of an expected defeat. We banked on the supposedly undecided voter. If Simon Busuttil was courageous enough to leave his comfortable job as an MEP and do the crazy thing of trying to rebuild a party from the ground up, it would have been insulting to give up now. 

And in truth, why should we give up now? Why should you ever give up? The numbers do not do justice to the hard work that went into putting the party back on its feet. The outcome was surely not the result we worked hard for but that does not mean we were not on the right side of things.

The day after the 3rd of June we still believed we had started something meaningful, beautiful amidst the noise. We hoped that a lot of good will come out of this and that it definitely won't stop there. 

Hindsight offers a very comfortable view of what could have been done better, and rightly so. Many don't know that a week after the election result was announced, a group of volunteers started meeting regularly to prepare a list of learnings for the new administration to build on. I would say that 80% of the issues we listed came as no surprise and a set of weaknesses which probably even PL is aware of. 

Fast forward a few months later. What happened to what we started and what will you do with it if trusted to lead this party? A big chunk of us were there for the cause of what is right. Do we dismiss that a few weeks down the line simply because the vote did not come our way? What would have happened to Malta's accession in the European Union had our leaders moved away from this vision after the 1996 result?

Could it be that PN has still to learn how to be in opposition before it can get back to government. It is like changing jobs after years of working at the same company. Suddenly you have to learn new ways of doing things and you are not in your comfort zone anymore. 

To add to the complexity of the situation, in this case you did not change your job out of choice, you were made redundant and there is the hurt of tackling that as well. What do you do then? Do you dismiss the sense of purpose that made you get out of bed everyday. Wouldn't that make you like the average guy in the company and lessen your chances of making a notable difference? More importantly wouldn't that kill who you really are and bring to a halt what you started with such passion and conviction?

In the past weeks the momentum that the party had gained post election has been replaced by the hype around the leadership race. Some of the volunteers that campaigned together pre-election are now campaigning for you in one team or the other. 

This is not a sign of disunity and it highlights an important moment for the PN and for Malta. The new mindset and enthusiasm that either of you will bring along, will shape the party for the years to come. As in the case of the EU vision, it will shape what Malta will be like. 

I just hope that when the party regains the momentum (as hard as it will be), and if you ever ask me to help out again, I would have no difficulty in juggling work and family time for a meaningful cause, meaningful enough as what we started.

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