PNP's festering wound needs more time to healSunday, July 18, 2021
For just over 18 years, from 1989 to 2007, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) languished in the proverbial political wilderness, victim of what was widely believed to be internecine warfare that sucked the oxygen out of the party and scared off voters.
In its collective wisdom, the Jamaican electorate decided that the JLP was in no position to carry out the responsibility of running the country, when it could not run its own house and keep the peace within its own ranks.
For the first time since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944, when Jamaicans over 21 got the right to vote and the two major parties began exchanging power, one was punished for four-consecutive general elections and a slew of municipal polls.
Even when the JLP was finally returned to power in 2007, that Administration lasted for one term, the first one-term Government in Jamaica's electoral history, suggesting that the voters were not fully settled about the suitability of that party.
Pundits are already saying that it's now the turn of the People's National Party (PNP), and that pessimistic prediction was reinforced last week by the further implosion of the party, evidenced by the resignation of a cadre of top officers.
The impetuous Dr Dayton Campbell in his bravado would give the impression that it could still be business as usual in the party without chairman, Mr Phillip Paulwell and vice-presidents Dr Wykeham McNeill, Senator Damion Crawford, and Mr Mikael Phillips.
But, as the weekend dawned, political talk was rife that there would be a move to oust party leader Mr Mark Golding as leader of the Opposition, which would be possible if a majority of the PNP Members of Parliament voted against him.
The suggestion is that a majority of the MPs are willing to back Mr Julian Robinson, the former general secretary and current spokesman on finance. All they need do is to inform the governor general of their wishes.
The 'war' in the PNP is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. As it was in the JLP under late party leader Edward Seaga, feelings are running hot and deep. This is what happens when leaders are challenged in Jamaican parties. The wounds take long to heal, worse if the abscess is not drained.
This latest leadership imbroglio in the PNP dates back to 2006, when the party divided into camps to support candidates vying to replace Mr P J Patterson who had stepped down as president.
Mrs Portia Simpson Miller emerged victor and Dr Peter Phillips the runner-up. But ill-feelings continued to simmer, resulting in a rare mid-term challenge for leadership by Dr Phillips. The bleeding was cauterised when Mrs Simpson Miller made him her number two – a master stroke.
But, after Mrs Simpson Miller stepped away and Dr Phillips won the rather fractious election at the head of his One PNP clan, defeating Mr Peter Bunting and his Rise United tribe, the festering wound deepened.
When Dr Phillips decided to move on after his party's 2020 General Election loss, leading to his replacement by Mr Mark Golding, who won over Ms Lisa Hanna, the 'war' seemed to have just begun.
Going by the JLP's 18-year timetable, the PNP has another three years to recover. That gives Mr Andrew Holness ample time to call a snap election.
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