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Editorial: The Pryce of collective leadership

Published:Friday | January 15, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Were it our call, the greater probability is that our choice would be for Raymond Pryce to remain a member of Jamaica's Parliament. He is relatively young, bright, articulate, apparently not corrupt or tribal, and seemingly serious about the development of his constituency.

The foregoing notwithstanding, Mr Pryce, having been deselected as the People's National Party's (PNP) standard-bearer for North East St Elizabeth, and now forced out as a deputy general secretary of the party, has to appreciate why he lost the confidence of the officers of the PNP brass and why, if he remains committed to the organisation, the onus is on him to work his way back.

But should he or his supporters have any doubt that the greater burden is his, they ought to reflect on three important concepts - democracy; institutional loyalty; and the third, which is related, the centrality of the organisation. Individual interests can't supersede those of the institution.

The context to Mr Pryce's troubles is, in the circumstance, important. It is hardly questionable that his has been an uneasy ride since being ushered into the constituency for the 2011 election in the face of criminal corruption proceedings of his PNP predecessor, Kern Spencer. Although he won the seat for the PNP, Mr Pryce faced continuous sniping from factions within the constituency. Perhaps intransigence on the part of his opponents contributed to this, but whatever the reason, Mr Pryce has been unable to either breach the divide or exert his authority over the constituency.

The upshot was the opening for Evon Redman, a long-time PNP St Elizabeth operative and perceived as an old-order politician, to challenge Mr Pryce to represent the party at the next general election. Mr Pryce may have felt that he was insufficient, supported by the central organisation and that some in the hierarchy encouraged and facilitated the challenge. In the end, after several false starts and an ultimately withdrawn court challenge by constituency party supporters against the timing of the selection context, Mr Pryce pulled out of the exercise.

With no other challenger, Mr Redman was effectively the only nominee. He was subsequently confirmed by the constituency's delegates, with 467 votes, or 38 per cent more than those who dissented.




The latter fact is important. In democratic contests, it is the norm for the will of the majority to be respected. And while the central party has the authority to override constituency votes, in the absence of a compelling case against Mr Redman, it would be difficult to challenge the significant majority by which he was approved.

Yet, over the last three months, Mr Pryce's supporters have continued to openly agitate for reinstatement, culminating in this week's embarrassing shirt-ripping protests at the PNP headquarters when they failed to get their way.

Raymond Pryce may not have directly, as he has claimed, orchestrated these demonstrations, and has even spoken against them. But his denunciation of them has been less than forceful or forthright. In the event, his place in the central leadership of the PNP was untenable.

He has retained his membership in the PNP and says that its philosophy and policies remain the best for Jamaica. Yet, he may still have a reform agenda, which he is now at liberty to pursue with the burden of collective responsibility of leadership.