Militant PNPYO getting quiet support from some elders

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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THE leadership of the People's National Party (PNP) yesterday refused to comment on recommendations from the party's youth organisation (PNPYO) for major changes in its operation but it appears that some senior members are siding with many of the proposals.

PNP Chairman Fitz Jackson told the Jamaica Observer that he will be meeting with the president of the youth organisation, Krystal Tomlinson, shortly and would be able to comment after that meeting.

But with the leadership of the PNPYO reportedly in a militant mood, party insiders yesterday claimed the leadership will cave in on several of the 21 recommendations of the youth group, many of which are being supported in private by some senior Comrades.

One PNP insider, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer on condition of anonymity, refused to comment on two of the more controversial proposals — the call for the resignation of Luther Buchanan as a deputy general secretary and the reassigning of the chief of staff in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition Imani Duncan Price.

“I will not speak to those two issues but I can tell you that many senior members of the party are solidly behind several of the other recommendations, particularly those which want a shake-up of MPs (Members of Parliament) and caretakers who are not doing the political work,” said the senior PNP member.

“It is a fact that caretakers and MPs are not doing the work on the ground, so you have a constituency where 1,000 persons have been enumerated since the last election and the MP, who has been there for two, three terms, cannot say where they came from.

“This slackness must stop and it is up to (PNP president) Peter (Phillips) and (general secretary) Julian (Robinson) to bring them to book and throw them out if necessary,” added the PNP insider.

Among the 21 recommendations presented to the party's National Executive Council (NEC) on Sunday by the PNPYO is one calling for the naming of the constituencies which have not attended monthly meetings of the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) since 2016 and those that are yet to report on enumeration and the canvass of additional voters since the last election.

The PNPYO also recommended that money be provided to pay scrutineers outside of the amount provided by the EOJ and an immediate analysis of the state of the organisation in the 29 constituencies now held by the party.

“A social audit should be considered for those (constituencies) we have held for 30 unbroken years to see if needs are being met,” said the youth organisation as it further recommended that “MPs and caretakers should be made to submit plans for their constituencies within a month's time in like manner to Comrade (Damion) Crawford in Portland Eastern.”

With the party facing repeated criticisms that it failed to present a clear message in the lead-up to the recent by-election in Portland Eastern, which Crawford lost, the youth organisation has recommended that a national message be created that is, “appealing, practical and sustainable”.

Another recommendation is for an officer to be assigned to deal with the welfare of party workers. “Many are destitute and living below acceptable means and have given their all for the party. We must return the favour.”

The youth arm further recommended an overhaul of the PNP's communication machinery, which political analysts say was found wanting in the lead-up to the 2016 General Election and as recent as the Portland Eastern by-election.

“Communication, PR (public relations) and propaganda machinery must be financed and the PNPYO is suggesting a structural reform, which means hiring adequate staff and making some positions redundant. We need (a) communications director with a clear voice, a clear message and full access to all 63 constituencies and their communications processes so that there can be cohesion and communication reaching the grass roots from the party's leadership.”

In a stinging criticism of the party's leadership, the youth organisation said its officer corps is a part of the problem.

“Usually it listens to no voice but its own, which is often conservative, antiquated and myopic, and where alternative views are given, they are shut down or disregarded. Sadly, the chairman (Jackson) and deputy chairman (Horace Dalley) are the main proponents of this behaviour.

“If the behaviour is not addressed by officers allowing the structures of the party to function without being hijacked by them … the PNPYO will launch a campaign for the removal of every single officer,” warned the youth organisation.

It also called for a reshuffling of the shadow Cabinet, a strengthening of the secretariat under Robinson and a dumping of the “elderly Comrades who have led every campaign since 1976”.


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