Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Differences between PNP and JLP

Published:Sunday | March 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The People's National Party was founded by O.T. Fairclough and was nurtured and led by Norman Manley until 1969. The party was significantly influenced at inception by the events of 1938.

Its primary goal was to represent the oppressed, landless mass of the people who needed to become a part of the conversation relating to basic needs. Norman Manley had spent considerable time in England and embraced Fabian Socialism.

As the party grew, it apparently presented conflicts for a prominent member, Sir Alexander Bustamante.

He was in the occupation that embraced every aspect of capitalism. Sir Alexander was a moneylender. He dealt with the very basic symbol of capitalism money, cash.

This represented a stark contrast to those who sought to enhance social benefits which were denied to the persons at the bottom. They were educated minimally to provide cheap labour for the plantations.




This, of itself, meant they always needed money, but had no collateral to facilitate potential borrowing except from persons like Sir Alexander Bustamante. This line of deep division, so stark 75 plus years ago, still resonates in the Jamaica of 2016.

The People's National Party embraced socialism as it allowed the intelligentsia among its numbers to clearly identify an oppressor in the capitalist class. It allowed them to give birth to the Jamaica Welfare Movement. This would give rise to transfer of basic skills, limited personal development and a lot of hope and aspiration.

It further satisfied the conscience of the intelligentsia that they were doing something to uplift the masses of the people and the willingness of the colonial power for Federation. Failed Federation led to Jamaican Independence.

Enter the four H's of the Peoples National Party. They were Frank Hill, Willie Henry, Ken Hill and Richard Hart. They were impatient with Fabian Socialism. They were vocal, educated, represented the physical hues of both the black and brown classes.

Having heard the first person account of my godfather, Ken Hill, I can appreciate what led the Norman Manley's PNP to expel them from the parties. The PNP went full throttle to mobilise for political independence as this was possible with the numerical superiority of the masses.

The Jamaica Labour Party evolved by catering to the moneyed class and the landed gentry. The party had membership represented by Ashenheim and John P. Gyles, the landed gentry and the tokenism of Isaac Barrant. The country settled into a two-term victory cycle as it best reflected the divisions between the JLP and the PNP. The people searched for relevance.

Once there came a blurring of the distinction between the parties, as represented, by the P.J. Patterson era we were left as a people to flounder. The PNP no longer had room to accommodate a Tony Spaulding, speaking of rapacious capitalist, but needed the votes represented by the large bloc of lumpen proletariat. The PNP lost its soul.

It moved away from those who would seek transformation of the society to those who would embrace accommodation. The result was a vacancy for the leadership of the large unemployed, underemployed, undereducated, poorly housed mass of our countryman.

Enter JLP, which had recognised that raw unabridged capitalism has no mass appeal anymore. The parties have switched roles. The JLP now articulates the demands of the masses. It now drives an economic growth agenda with the belief and hope that a rising tide lifts all boats.

The JLP now can have the Leader's wife expressing outrage at the questioning of her wealth source as a "black" person building a large mansion in Beverly Hills. Oh how the rolls have switched.

The PNP must reflect on its mission. It has lost its way having a leader whose most endearing quality is being one of the people is a failed strategy. The people need leadership, a leadership representing competence, motivational skills and the willingness to stand with the masses.




The political leaders are currently useless. If the parties, both PNP and JLP do not redefine their mission, clarify what development means, educate the society for today and tomorrow's job opportunities, then the changing of governments after one term will become changing governments after one year.

The ability to tap into instant communication has resulted in a change of the average Jamaican's expectation. I would suggest that there is no family who does not have a close member, living overseas. All persons can now judge the health care standards, the educational standards and the upward mobility provided by education.

We as a people have become very impatient and the party, which fails to deliver on the promises/commitments within the stated time frame will pay a price.

The JLP of today is appearing like the PNP of yesterday. PNP is leaderless and rudderless, drifting in ideological nomad's land.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to and