PNP seeks healing

PNP seeks healing

Party leaders attend recommitment church service

Observer staff reporter

Monday, January 18, 2021

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TWO months since delegates of the People's National Party (PNP) elected St Andrew South Member of Parliament and Opposition Leader Mark Golding as the new president of the 82-year-old party efforts are still continuing in earnest to heal internal wounds that have beset the political movement in recent years.

At a recommitment church service held yesterday at Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew, members of the PNP, led by president Mark Golding, gathered to reflect and refocus the party on its political mandate of nation-building.

Anglican archbishop of the West Indies Dr Howard Gregory, who delivered the sermon, urged attendees to reconcile their differences as the party attempts to bridge internal divides, an effort which PNP President Mark Golding said was critical in order for the party to restore public faith in their political platform.

“We are moving beyond and away from the middle stones of factionalism, internal discord, and the elevation of selfish personal ambitions above the collective interest of our great party. We recognise that the Jamaican people are turned off by those negative influences and tendencies and that the fortunes of our movement will only be restored if we unequivocally reject them and genuinely embrace unity around our common purpose.

“As your president today, I recommit to leading with courage and conviction on the shoulders of all who have served before and through the guidance and direction of Almighty God. I have assumed this leadership position with humility, with optimism and a deep sense of responsibility. As your leader, I recommit myself to our movement, as I ask you to join me in doing so,” said Golding.

Golding defeated St Ann South Eastern Member Parliament Lisa Hanna in last November's presidential face-off, the second the party had, had over a one-year period. Golding secured the presidency with 1,740 delegates' votes to Hanna's 1,444.

Apologies were yesterday made for Hanna who was unavoidably absent from the church service.

Other members of the PNP executive who were present, however, included newly reappointed senator and Leader of Opposition Business Peter Bunting. The former Central Manchester Member of Parliament had challenged Dr Peter Phillips in the 2019 internal presidential run-off. Dr Phillips retained leadership of the party, but eventually resigned after the party faced a crushing defeat in last September's general election.

Golding was also joined at the recommitment service by newly elected party chairman and Kingston Eastern Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell, as well as former Member of Parliament for St Ann North Western Dr Dayton Campbell who was also recently chosen by the membership of the party's National Executive Council as the party's new general secretary.

Campbell has become a controversial figure of the PNP, and has publicly admitted to his role in the party's internal divisions. He succeeded St Andrew South Eastern Member of Parliament Julian Robinson who also tendered his resignation following the party's defeat in the September 3, 2020 General Election.

In his charge to attendees, Golding was adamant that it was time for reconciliation among the party's leadership and membership, and to heal wounds that might still be lingering. He also announced that offerings collected would be donated to the party's OT Fairclough Fund, established last December to assist supporters and workers of the party who have fallen on hard times.

“I believe this fund is symbolic of our party's journey of recommitment. We all stand on the shoulders of those unheralded stalwarts who do the political work on the ground for the People's National Party,” said Golding, adding that the party is recommitting to strengthening its messaging and communication, as well as widening its financial base and strengthening the party's finances.

“We recommit ourselves to what is really an existential task. It requires both an act of will and of faith. It is a matter of deliberate choice: choosing the path of reconnection with the people of Jamaica; choosing the path of the development of a solid, progressive policy platform which tackles the deep structural challenges facing our country; choosing the path of rebuilding our organisation from the base to the centre; choosing the path of commitment to integrity and honesty in the conduct of our affairs and the nation's business; and ultimately choosing the path of a bright future for our party and our nation,” said Golding.

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