In Jamaica, the ongoing pandemic has halted the island’s theatre industry yet the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has managed to keep the public entertained with its endless pantomime of infighting and inappropriate comments.
The governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration and their supporters are sitting back and having the time of their stewardship watching this farce playout scene-after-scene. The wider public and many comrades also stare with dismay at the drama from some of the people’s opposition.
The timing of the recent coordinated resignations of the 4 PNP vice presidents (Phillip Paulwell, Damion Crawford, Mikael Phillips and Wykeham McNeil) was poor but could a blessing in the long term.
But in this digital-active age where organisations are always streamlining to improve its strategies, operations and decision making, why does the PNP need to have 4 vice presidents?
As leader of the PNP Mark Golding needs to front-up and show a ruthless but fair side to his role.
Since his leadership win in 2020 Golding was not given a second to enjoy a honeymoon period. The political knives were obviously out from that Saturday evening when the results declared Golding the successor to Peter Phillips. Lisa Hanna, his leadership rival, was not present at the declaration or at Golding’s swearing-in ceremony. The gap between both factions just got wider and sillier.
The lack of a united front had driven the PNP to lose its way and they have missed numerous chances to put the Andrew Holness administration under sustained pressure given it’s below average performance in certain areas.
But over the weekend the public saw something that was welcoming, Hanna and Golding on the same platform displaying the kind of civility and united front that has been missing from the party for far too long.
But Golding has to do more to enhance his leadership and the fortunes of PNP.
- Despite the governments sluggish handling of health and crime the shadowing of these critical portfolios by those responsible in the PNP has been even worst.
- Move Hanna from foreign affairs to a more substantial post (education, finance, health or even national security) that raises the profile any the PNP solutions to that portfolio. No point in Hanna (in the lower house) shadowing the foreign minister Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith who is in the upper house).
- Senator Peter Bunting (upper house) should not be shadowing national security when the minister Horace Chang is in the lower house.
- Golding has to shadow Holness thoroughly. Meaning shadowing all the extended portfolios that sit within Holness office incl: economic growth, NHT, HEART NTA and especially roads and works.
· Develop eye-catch realistic initiatives that would strike a chord with the public in the areas of National House Trust, crime reduction/prevention, early childhood, literacy, cannabis, constitutional reform.
· Bring proposals to modernise the PNP. E.g. 1 vice president instead of 4. Allow the candidates running for president to do so as a joint ticket with their own VP pick. Having separate elections for both posts is too risky given that the chosen president and VP could be polar opposites in policy and personality.
· Have a zero tolerance approach to those who make grossly offensive personal comments about JLP members and comrades.
· Hire an effective and savvy communications director
Golding and Hanna’s presentation of a united front is a step the right direction to take. For the sake of Jamaican politics – no more self-inflicted banana slips please.
Despite delivering the first female prime minister of Jamaica and having an well establish women’s movement, there is a perception that the PNP in recent years is anti-women. Comments made by senior male PNP figures in recent years has brought substance to such perceptions.
Over the weekend PNP VP aspirants Ian Hayles and Richard Azan stole the headlines with some grossly offensive comments against JLP MP Rhoda Crawford.
It is not the first time that a senior PNP member has used mental health as some laughing matter to attack the JLP. Stop it!
Golding needs to show some authority and kindly ask Hayles and Azan to remove themselves from the upcoming VP slots.
Golding is a smart guy and he must know that Hayles and Azan are not VP material. Hayles in particular has form in upsetting folks with his outdated and juvenile outburst on the political campaign. Hayles with a microphone is a political blunder waiting to happen and will make it difficult for the PNP to shake off its image of a political party in pantomime season.
The JLP has little way of displaying genuinely outrage given their code silence over the recent expletive comments made by government minister Warmington and the physical altercation scandal that force one of their own MPs to take extended leave from being a party member.
Hayles and Azan have since apologised with a statement that is so bizarre and poorly delivered. But the damage has been done. Golding should use this incident to cement his position as a no-nonsense leader who will not tolerate such poor behaviour from any of his senior colleagues, even if they are close allies. Will he?
Hanna and Patricia Duncan-Sutherland, new president of the PNP Women’s Movement, were right criticise the comments made by Azan and Hayles.
Maybe Golding should encourage Hanna and Duncan-Sutherland to replace Azan and Hayles as 2 of the 4 VP aspirants.
The Gleaner: PNP women’s group scolds Azan, Hayles over Rhoda Crawford comments