PNP at 78: Maintaining Relevance


Well, the polls of the 78th Annual Conference have come and gone. As with any election, some were not pleased with the results but we must accept democracy for what it is. Some are disappointed at Blythe being blighted once more; a greater portion that Lisa Hanna was not elected Vice President of the People’s National Party. While I too hoped for her success, it was not to be this time, and the party must commence the healing and fence mending processes

PJ Patterson lost out on his first VP bid but went on to win his second challenge and the third and fourth and… For PJ Patterson, it was about the mission that he had for the people of Jamaica; not about the position. As such, even while tasting defeat at the first go, he continued to work in the interest of his party and his country. Lisa Hanna had outlined some plans for the party and the viability of her next VP challenge (should there be one) will be dependent on whether she stays on the ground and actively push for those progressive ideas to be implemented or disappear into the shadows. Following her graceful concession speech, she promised to remain on the ground and I look forward to her work.


If we subscribe to the notion that one can only effect change from top down and stand by that notion then we will drive ourselves into oblivion. The very foundation of the People’s National Party is rooted in building from the ground up. This is the golden opportunity for Lisa, others aspiring for leadership and those with the flawed belief of top down only, to build out a strong base, which is the only way that the PNP can truly return to its core principles (and government).

Renewal

As PJ Patterson outlined, renewal is necessary for any organization to remain well oiled and relevant. Many have found issue with the word renewal and the issue I believe stemmed from the way that renewal was marketed. At the onset, it emerged while many comrades were still licking the wounds from the February 25 election loss. Many found its emergence to be premature (hours after the loss) and demonstrating an abandonment of the principle of collective responsibility. It was almost a separation from the party- losers over there and me over here. 

Renewal then seemed to mean getting rid of the old and in with the new. I have always been a proponent of balance between experienced and new. Is there that balance in the PNP? Not yet, but there is work in progress. The newly elected VPs must now do what Portia Simpson Miller has been doing all along in bringing new talent under her wings then propelling them to leadership. Dr Ferguson outlined this as one of his missions for this term as VP and I would urge the other VPs and even MPs and caretakers to adopt a similar approach to youth and leadership. 

Moving Forward

In going forward, the People’s National Party must clearly outline its mission and a clear message especially to the young people of this country. There must be a drive to strengthen and empower groups; returning to building from the ground up in an era when many only subscribe to top-down leadership. With the recent turmoil over, now is the time to outline that message, that vision, which will move the party forward and give hope to the people of this country. 

The future of the party depends not just on President and Vice Presidents but on Regional Chairmen, Constituency Chairs, Divisional Chairs, Group Leaders inter alia.

 As the party leader outlined, fences will need to be mended and bridges built towards a brighter future. The marketing of renewal, change, revitalization or whatever word, must demonstrate it to be a process. Renewal is not a point but a continuous process which surmounts any single individual. It must open the door to continuous dialogue and new ideas while providing fora for dissenting views. Though renewal has been a constant feature of the party, some of the systems to address the glitches have not been working effectively. The leadership has acknowledged that and I wait like so many others to see if it is lip service or whether there will be deliberate attempts to make the systems work for all.

The onous is on every single comrade from the grassroots-up and from the top to the grassroots to make this 78th year a glorious one. 

AK Dixon 

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