Monday 08 August 2022

Why is Wayne Hewitt’s vote so important?

Pictured above: Wayne Hewitt during an edition of Affari Taghna

While the headlines on the news portals continue to be dominated by RCC and JPO (who have become such household names that they now simply go by their initials), a status by a man called Wayne Hewitt seems to have created quite a stir on Facebook.

 “For the first time in my life, I will not be voting in the next general elections. Between a party embezzled by a handful of religious extremists, a socialist party and a small communist party disguised in green, I choose none. Will be waiting of the real Nationalist Party to arise to its former glory. A party that puts democracy before religion”.

Earlier he had written: “the Nationalist Party needs to fall, perhaps twice in a row, to come up stronger”.

For those who have never heard of him,Wayne is a staunch PN activist who has made a bit of a ‘name’ for himself all over the media because he also happens to be very much an atheist. Yes, it is a contradiction in terms, but there you go. In a country where so many claim to be Catholic, being vociferous about not believing in God kind of gets you noticed.

Meanwhile, for quite a while he has been extolling the virtues of the Nationalist party to whoever would listen, so it came as quite a surprise (and a shock) to his fellow supporters to read the above status. Many were quick to point out that it had something to do with the fact that he was not selected to be among the candidates contesting on the PN ticket, announced recently by the Prime Minister himself.  This, however, was disputed by Wayne who claims to have never harboured any such ambitions, despite the fact that he has a group called Wayne Hewitt – PN as well as a page in which he describes himself as a politician. On his personal profile he also says he is an “opinionist” (sic) while his cover photo is a picture of the late Guido de Marco.

What interests me, though, is the reaction to his statement. All hell seems to have broken loose as other PN activists take turns to alternatively insult him and plead with him to reconsider his decision.  Of course, one also finds Labour supporters for whom he has suddenly become the greatest thing since sliced bread – continuing a hypocritical trend which first began with JPO and Franco Debono. Come on, if you do not like a certain politician, you do not suddenly start to root for him just because he is indirectly giving a helping hand to your party.

What has happened to principles?

OK, even I’ve just burst out laughing at the absurdity of my own question.

So back to Hewitt, and the minor Facebook earthquake he has created.  He has made it clear where he stands in all this with other statements: “Kburi li jien PN u mhux GonziPN” (proud to be PN and not GonziPN) and “3 MPs. Aghar minn Alfred Sant fl-1998. Tort ta’ kulhadd, barra tal-amministrazzjoni tal-Partit, hux hekk?” (3 MPs. Worse than Alfred Sant in 1998. It’s everyone’s fault except that of the Party’s administration, isn’t that right?).  

Wayne’s main bone of contention seems to be that the PN has been hijacked by the religious right (although where he ever got the impression that his party was liberal is beyond me). He has insisted repeatedly that his rather dramatic decision does not mean he is joining the Labour party, but many simply do not believe him. For, obviously, in this country, if you turn your back on one party it must mean that you have joined the other.  But people who persist in thinking in terms of min mhux maghna kontra taghna (those who are not with us, are against us, the old Mintoff rallying cry) have utterly no clue as to how voters have changed when it comes to their political affiliation. Sure you still have those who would rather die a slow tortured death than not vote, but there is a growing percentage which has become politically disengaged, as the ties to “their” party become looser and looser.

In the meantime, over at Hewittland, everyone continues to rush in to comment every time he comes out with a new status, which I find intriguing. Why is this one man’s vote so crucially important?  Why is the fact that one activist is (publicly) washing his hands of the whole party sending shivers down collective spines?

The answer, of course, comes quite easily. It means that the PN is in even worse trouble than those who are conducting the strategic group meetings ever imagined. If even one of their most diehard activists is deserting the sinking ship, what hope is there for those who are on the fringe and couldn’t care less either way, preferring to go to the beach rather than give two hoots about politics?  So as PN canvassers swarm all over Hewitt’s Facebook wall (press the panic button, it’s all systems go!), I think it is time to just tell it like it is.

Dear politicians of all hues, I hate to break it to you – but many, many people have much better things to do than worry obsessively about who said what to whom and why when it comes to  (for example) the JPO/RCC soap opera.  Even the news that Franco Debono, JPO and Jesmond Mugliett have been banned from contesting the election barely caused a ripple.  Voters might raise their heads lazily from their towel on the beach (or afternoon siesta depending on one’s preference) and ask nonchalantly if this means the government is going to fall, then shrug and go back to sleep.

Yes it’s too hot to care, and we are all fed up of the entire circus. I’m not being facetious about the weather either – I’m convinced that what’s been happening this week would have made a greater impact if we lived in a cold, grey country where it rains even in summer.

But this is Malta and we’re going through a scorching heat wave, so while Wayne Hewitt’s decision not to vote might be causing a red alert over at Stamperija – as far as the rest of us are concerned: our biggest concern is how to keep cool in this stifling heat.



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