PNP on the horns of a dilemma


PNP on the horns of a dilemma

Monday, September 21, 2020

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News that Mr Norman Horne is among those eyeing the presidency of the People's National Party (PNP) has added another twist to the unfolding drama.

As readers know, it follows the PNP's devastating loss in the September 3, 2020 election and announcement of the impending exit of current party president and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips.

Mr Horne is one of eight senators named recently by Dr Phillips.

In a manner of speaking, Mr Horne was born in the PNP. His given names, Norman Washington, reflect the regard in which his father, Mr Donald Horne, held the PNP's founding president and National Hero Norman Washington Manley.

To underline the point, another son was named by Mr Donald Horne as Manley.

The patriarch Horne, who died in 2017 at age 98, was among the legendary political organisers for the PNP in the St Elizabeth southern belt between 1959 and the 1990s.

He was also councillor for the Junction Division in the St Elizabeth Parish Council. His name is intricately tied to the evolution of Junction, routinely considered among Jamaica's fastest-growing towns.

In such circumstances, it came as no surprise that his son, Mr Norman Horne, joined the PNP in the late 90s after years in the United States.

Shock came when Mr Norman Horne switched allegiance to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ahead of the 2002 parliamentary election. He lost that election in Manchester Central to PNP incumbent, Mr John Junor, but was rewarded with a Senate seat.

However, by 2007, Mr Norman Horne was back in the PNP, then led by Mrs Portia Simpson Miller. In contentious circumstances he replaced the sitting Member of Parliament Mr Lenworth Blake as the PNP's candidate for St Elizabeth South Eastern, losing to the JLP's Mr Frank Witter.

Mr Horne, a highly successful businessman, has remained in the PNP since, playing important below-the-radar roles.

All things considered, for Mr Horne to now come forward as aspirant for presidency of the PNP appears to reflect the growing uncertainty within that party.

Mr Horne tells us that: “I have been getting numerous calls from people asking me to make myself available. It is unbelievable...”

It seems to this newspaper that, as voting delegates and others in the hierarchy and officer core of the PNP set about replacing Dr Phillips, priority must be given to the type of organisation they want to build.

It must represent a viable alternative to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), currently led by the youthful, popular prime minister, Mr Andrew Holness.

Given the alarming decline of the PNP in recent years, building such won't be easy, especially given conventional wisdom that there is no place in Jamaican politics for 'another JLP'.

The PNP should seek to rediscover its historic role as a progressive, political movement dedicated to social transformation and uplifting of the poor, dispossessed and oppressed, at home and abroad.

To do that, the party must get itself off its collective butt and 'organise, organise, organise' in the finest tradition of its great founders; and others such as the late Mr Donald Horne and Dr D K Duncan, who died last week.

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