Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Look wah the PNP come to!

Published:Sunday | July 12, 2015 | 7:00 AM

A political party usually reflects a hierarchy of associates. The degree of relationship is founded on many variables. In Jamaica, historical family ties are significant. "Mi a rockstone Labourite or mi a born socialist." This irrational statement is fostered by our high degree of tribalism. It may very well be equal in its application to members of both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP). Supporters are not all paid-up members. Membership is acquired through affirmative action. PNP seeks supporters, yet it approves membership.

The ring in the hierarchy of the PNP is inclusive of membership, group leaders, delegates and regional leadership, and the ladder for progression in the party's direct organisation, namely, national executive membership, commissioned officers, executive, workers, vice-presidents and president.

 

shared values

 

It is the commonly accepted standard that those who associate with the PNP join this voluntary organisation based on shared values. The values are learnt over time. The PNP claims strong affinity to political education and organisation. This vehicle is used to share the values, the political objectives and the core principles. The history of its 77 years was exposed to one and all. It was contrasted with the other major party. One had the right to choose with whom one cast one's lot.

The actions of the political parties, in the recent past, have led to a blurring of the differences. Both parties have had policy changes and value modifications. The result of all this is that an analysis of the core principles of both parties reveals outcomes that are now almost indistinguishable.

Both major parties are neo-liberal in their economic policies. The leader of the JLP has now claimed some of his positions are socialist in tendency. The PNP is now almost genuflecting to the dictates of Big Business at the expense of the workers. Doubt it? Check when last the PNP proposed legislation slanted in the interest of workers.

Here we are now. If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. The party has now devolved to rally only to what is expedient. My father died as an elected office holder under the banner of the rising sun. He was a long-serving member of the PNP. He preached the values and he did so with goodwill to all, including and especially those to whom he was in political opposition.

Politics for him was the vehicle through which national development was tested. Once there was consensus, the democratic institution of the PNP rallied to the cause and worked for implementation.

Today, sadly, it is not the same party. Now the most applicable word is 'expediency'. It matters not who is accepted into membership. It matters not that those who now raise the clenched fist do not know its origin as a symbol. It matters not that they do not know the words to 'Jamaica Arise', not to speak of the 'people's blood is deepest red'.

They know nothing of the struggle to help the party remain relevant in periods of parliamentary opposition, financial challenges, demoralisation at massive electoral defeats. They have no idea of the practice of democracy, as displayed at the annual party conference and the equality of the membership. Just track the life of political involvement of Portia Simpson Miller. Roy McGann knew it. He lived it up to 1980. He did not die of old age or illness. He died from a gunshot in Gordon Town, East Rural St Andrew.

Mr McGann was my father's friend. They socialised one with the other at each other's home. He was his Comrade. NOW DEAD.

Now we are left to extrapolate. What does membership in the PNP represent? The standard for membership is abysmally low. When the minimal standards are accepted, then anyone can qualify. The calibre of membership is diluted.

 

party standards

 

What is the standard, not for supporters, but for members who agree to adhere to the constitution of the PNP. Membership is the rung on the ladder to leadership. Lead who? Lead to where? Lead by espousing what values? Where are the core principles applied? Poor outcomes that could lead to gunshots. Spilling more Jamaican blood, all in the name of politically scarce benefits. Where is the concept of throwing up the best and brightest for the challenge of nation building? What of the PNP YO? Has the PNP leadership gone mad? Grateful I will not vote. Long time since I have not sought that franchise. No choice. Jamaica has lost. Sad day.

- Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.