PNPYO, G2K have lost their way
There must have existed a lot of hope for the future of our politics when the People's National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) and Generation 2000 (G2K), the group of young professionals supportive of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), were formed many years ago.
Both, we recall, served as the conscience of their elders in the PNP and the JLP, the two major political parties that have formed successive governments since 1944.
The PNPYO in particular, which was formed long before G2K, had a proud history of challenging positions articulated by the PNP leadership, especially at the party's annual conference where delegates are encouraged to speak their minds on any issue relevant to the party.
In 2001, for instance, the PNPYO, under the leadership of Mr Basil Waite, who is now an Opposition senator, had said it would take to the party's annual conference a set of ideas that it was convinced were necessary for Jamaica's development and for the party to remain relevant.
Among them were:
* term limits for all elected political officials;
* the dismantling of garrison communities;
* the direct election of mayors;
* the appointment of town managers;
* the election of senators;
* micro-business development programmes for youth; and
* opposition to the decriminalisation of ganja.
The group had also developed policy papers on economic development, and crime and violence.
So impressive was the list of objectives that it influenced a prominent member of the National Democratic Movement to become a member of the PNP.
That same year, G2K, under the leadership of Mr David Panton, invited Mr R Ted Cruz, domestic policy adviser to then US President George W Bush, to deliver the guest address at a function in Kingston marking the re-birth of G2K.
In the run up to that function, Mr Panton had told this newspaper that one of G2K's areas of central focus was influencing JLP policies for implementation should the party form the government after the 2002 general elections.
That focus resulted in G2K taking an active role in rewiring the JLP's manifesto which, Mr Panton said, would have been influenced by G2K's six core principles:
* Analysis and debate;
* Co-operation and unity;
* Transparency and accountability;
* Integrity and honesty;
* Organisation and structure; and
* National interest first.
At the time, Mr Panton pointed out that together the first letter of each principle spelt the word 'action' and the last principle, he said, was regarded as the most important.
Impressive core principles indeed.
Unfortunately, over time both groups seem to have lost their focus and have morphed into lackeys of their political masters.
Our columnist and veteran journalist Mr Lloyd B Smith was spot on this week in his description of both entities as "chips off the old block" whose "rabidly partisan behaviour and utterances are but one clear example of the extent to which the 'gang politics' has poisoned their minds and hearts".
There is a great need for this country to divest itself of the tribal politics that has been created and perpetuated by the PNP and the JLP and which has, for too long, stifled our social and economic development.
The youth arms of both parties need to demonstrate their independence, redefine their purpose and start pressing their seniors to put the interest of the country above that of their parties.