Of leader and leadership: Crawford/Thwaites switch?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The recent People's National Party (PNP) vice-presidents' election results point to a very interesting future in local politics.

Both the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) have had leaders of various styles. The PNP has a knack of finding among its ranks charismatic leaders more so than the JLP. The JLP was founded by Sir Alexander Bustamante, its only truly charismatic leader to date. Since then it has had a cadre of technically efficient leaders — Donald Sangster, Hugh Shearer, Edward Seaga, Bruce Golding, and Andrew Holness. There are all technically sound leaders but none with the charismatic magic of Bustamante.

The PNP, on the other hand, was founded by a technically savvy and academically brilliant Norman Manley. Along the way that party has thrown up Michael Manley, arguably the most charismatic leader this country has had. Not too far behind comes the country's first female prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller. Indeed, it could be rated a toss-up between the two by some. However, Michael Manley's gift of gab nudges him head.

P J Patterson has the enviable record as the prime minister who has won the most general elections in this country. But while a very astute politician, he was not a charismatic leader.

Back to the recent PNP vice-presidents' election results. Of the four elected, three are sitting Members of Parliament with a delegate base: Philip Paulwell, Mikael Phillips and Dr Wykeham McNeill. The sole exception being Senator Damion Crawford.

Yet, when the votes were counted the youthful and charismatic Crawford garnered most votes, 1,973, with another youthful candidate, Phillips, his closest challenger with 1,782. What this tells me is the JLP no longer has a lock in the leadership ranks of the parties and, if the rumour going the rounds that Crawford is set to replace Ronald Thwaites in his seat proves true, this makes Crawford a dangerous political figure going forward, not only for the JLP but those in his own party who have ambitions for leadership.

Donald Plummer

damac@yahoo.com

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