I support Bunting's challenge to Phillips

Letters to the Editor

I support Bunting's challenge to Phillips

Monday, June 10, 2019

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Dear Editor,

People's National Party (PNP) President Peter Phillips's leadership has been extremely lacklustre and weak. Phillips lacks charisma and personality to excite and engage. He is not transformational and seems void of ideas. He is no match for the more youthful Andrew Holness who, despite his own flaws, has evolved over the years with experience.

It is for this reason I am excited that Peter Bunting, investment banker, Member of Parliament, former minister of national security and PNP general secretary, has stepped up and decided to challenge Phillips for the leadership of the 80-year-old party.

Bunting brings years of experience including in private sector and a firm understanding of the political machinery and governance. He is far more spirited and engaging than Phillips, and his youthfulness (compared to the more senior Phillips) is a much better match to rival the younger Holness. Bunting also connects at the grass roots level.

It is extremely unlikely that the PNP, under Phillips, could ever lead the PNP to victory in any election. In fact, many fear the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) would win the next election, due in 2021, by such a massive landslide that our democracy would be compromised if they got to control nearly 100 per cent of seats in the House. This is not to say the the Opposition PNP hasn't had countless opportunities to knock the ruling Government. We have seen rampant corruption costing the country millions, the prosperity which the JLP campaigned on is not working out for most, the Economic Growth Council — whose slogan was “5 in 4” — has failed to meet those gross domestic product (GDP) growth targets and had to concede that a much lower marginal rate of 1.5 per cent per annum is the reality. The crime rate is at an all-time high, with zones of special operations and states of emergency a Band-aid fix. There is also social decay and the national identification system (NIDS) court ruling initiated by the Opposition came down in its favour, which was a huge public relations blow to the Government.

Phillips must respect Bunting's bid now, as he should understand the need for organisation growth having challenged the populist Portia Simpson Miller, not once, but twice.

Phillips's weak online presence is also a concern; he pales dramatically in comparison to the more youthful politicians such as Bunting, Lisa Hanna, and even Holness. His attempt at discussing national issues weekly online, through his live stream reasoning sessions, Fridays with Peter, has had almost zero effect. Despite the content in the streams, he is boring, to say the least, and appears distant, distracted and disconnected.

The executive of the PNP must wake up, at least if it is serious about winning the next election. Having failed to win the last two by-elections, one of which was in a PNP stronghold for 30 years, it is obvious that the PNP is in deep trouble. The findings from the party's appraisal of the loss in the 2016 General Election still stands today — the PNP was arrogant and took the electorate for granted, there is breakdown of trust in the leadership ranks, the party's message was incoherent and it failed to communicate hope.

If the party rejects Bunting's bid in the upcoming leadership race it is fair to say they are surely doomed.

P Chin


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