PJ tells Comrades to unite or prepare for more beatings


Thursday, October 01, 2020

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FORMER Prime Minister PJ Patterson has warned members of the People's National Party (PNP) that the 82-year-old party could be banished to the political wilderness if they remain divided.

“There must be unity of purpose and concentrated political action by the entire party, devoid of acrimony and rancour [and] which is not driven solely by personal ambition,” said Patterson, in a report to last Sunday's meeting of the party's National Executive Council (NEC).

“At every level, leaders, members and supporters must appreciate that only a united party can fulfil our sacred mission,” added Patterson, who served as PNP president from 1992 to 2006.

Patterson said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Jamaica Observer yesterday, was prepared in conjunction with the PNP's former General Secretary Burchell Whiteman, based on a September 11 request from the party's Chairman Fitz Jackson for it to identify a consensus candidate who would be best able to bring genuine unity and renewal to the party.

According to Patterson, from early soundings it had become obvious that such a consensus candidate would not be found, and his team believed that it would not be in the party's best interest to deprive the delegates of the right to choose that person to replace Dr Peter Phillips as the party's next president.

He said their suggestion, which has since been accepted by the NEC, was for the speedy election of a new president with the vice-presidents remaining in place until the 2021 annual conference, as allowed by the PNP's constitution.

But Patterson noted that during the limited consultations conducted by his team, following the request from Jackson, it was found that the divide in the party was frightening.

The former PNP president, who is revered for his organisational skills, argued that the divisions in the party betrayed its hallowed traditions and could perpetuate its defeats.

“Our chances of political success can only be realised through a return to the days of political education and [the] training of our workers with the tools of modern technology.

“We must overhaul, retrofit and re-engineer our political machinery. We must replace candidates where necessary, and regard recruitment with the same vigour that triggered our fortune previously,” said Patterson, who led the PNP to three-consecutive general election wins.

The former PNP president appeared to pour cold water on calls for a review of the reasons for its crushing 49-14 defeat in the September 3 General Election as he charged that, “our party shelves are creaking with the weight of reports and studies undertaken after defeat”.

He noted that at the request of his team former General Secretary Maxine Henry Wilson had prepared a summary of the past appraisal reports which he has attached to his missive to the NEC.

“There is no paucity of analyses, it is the failure to implement that has caused mortal damage,” declared the PNP's elder statesman.

In pointing the way forward Patterson argued that the PNP must cultivate and nurture the several elements which its founding president, National Hero Norman Washington Manley, identified at the party's launch in 1938.

He pointed to nationalists, workers, professionals, teachers, artistes, farmers and the clergy among those the PNP needs to attract going forward.

“The PNP must build a new alliance with the labour movement. The working class need a clear, strong political voice which articulates their concern and [which] is pledged to effect the necessary legal reforms for those in the workforce who are underpaid, insecure and inaudible,” said Patterson.

The former PNP president argued that the party must restore its alliance with the middle class without losing sight of people, such as the shopkeepers, taxi men and those in the creative industries, such as culture, entertainment and sports.

“We do not win elections if the Church, the media and the environmentalists are hostile to our message…our policies will not be accepted unless we listen and then formulate our manifesto accordingly,” declared Patterson.

With the PNP set to elect a new president on November 7, Patterson said the party should not expect any miracles from its next leader who will have as his or hers first obligation the forging of unity within the party.

He charged that the party's next president must recognise that he or she occupies the position of leader of the Opposition by virtue of being the president of the PNP and as such should make its Old Hope Road headquarters the fulcrum of its activities and not West King's House Road where the Office of the Leader of the Opposition is based.

Patterson also urged the Comrades to commit to principled conduct of its business, while avoiding acrimony, negative public discussions and public shows of disaffection with the outcome of internal elections.

“Without unity we can win nothing. With real unity to succeed the People's National Party will ensure the victory that enables us to fulfil our noble purpose. We trust this presentation will jolt our party into a process of rebuilding and rebranding,” closed the man who Comrades hail as “PJ”.

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