PNP in disarray from personalities of the destructive kind

PNP in disarray from personalities of the destructive kind

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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Dear Editor,
It is the unenviable task of the newly elected party president, Mark Golding, to try and rescue the People's National Party (PNP) from its present self-induced dilemma. His efforts to reshape the party to represent a viable alternative to the electorate are being stymied by the very people upon whom he should be relying to unite the party around clearly defined principles and objectives.

In the history of Jamaica's party politics, which spans more than eight decades, this is the first time that a duly elected leader — whether of the Jamaica Labour Part (JLP) or PNP — has, from the outset, not been shown any deference or respect that befits the position — and indeed is required for the sake of good governance.

Those who oppose Donald Trump have been careful to safeguard the presidency in their criticism of the president, and allowed him a period of 'honeymoon' before launching attacks on his policies or utterances or failure to act. In many instances the crux of the criticisms has been rooted in their belief of “who we are as Americans”.

Not so in the PNP. From the get-go there are open signs of opposition to Mark Golding's presidency. Those who continue to oppose him, or have failed to show marked deference to the position of the presidency, are doing irreparable damage to the PNP brand as a, hitherto, great movement. That is not what the PNP represents, but to truly understand the substance of its origins, history, and philosophical ethos, goes well beyond a glib recital.

The grave tragedy, if not travesty, is that the opposition to Golding is not based on differences in tendencies, policies, style of leadership, or ideological focus. It is sadly based on personality of the destructive kind.

In an obtuse sense, those who are, in effect, undermining Golding's authority to lead have failed to grasp the significance of the central themes in the three appraisal reports on the party's defeats at the polls. One is the absence of an ideology and, in the absence of that, personality likes and dislikes have assumed pre-eminence as the party's mantra.

Incestuous relationships carry the mark of their own demise, they are the death knell for those who fail to grasp the full implications of their decisions and actions and the bearing it may have on the voters outside of the party's base — for they too are necessary to guarantee any victory at the polls.

Surely, statements to justify running for the positions of general secretary and chairman are vain attempts to beguile the delegates at the National Executive Council (NEC) with pious platitudes of 'democratic rights' and the 'straw man' assertion about being the best person to assist the party leader in the rebuilding process. Such marked disingenuity about offering support to the party leader, while effectively showing contempt for his choice, speak volumes about character and leadership ethos that could well influence an undecided voter when the time comes.

The PNP has surely lost its way. The country's governance structure is weakened by a political party that seems to be heading nowhere fast. The doctrine of self-righteousness has replaced the age of reason and, paradoxically, it is the PNP that is now in the vanguard of promoting that ignoble ideal.

Danny Roberts

Head, Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute

UWI Open Campus

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