Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Marie Campbell | Get over yourself, Dr Phillips

Published:Tuesday | September 10, 2019 | 12:00 AMMarie Campbell/Guest Columnist

Many of us are relieved to see the end of a bitterly fought campaign between the two Peters of the People’s National Party (PNP). A 96 per cent voter turnout meant that nearly every delegate was present at the National Arena for the PNP presidential election, which augured well for the party in general. It meant that the party was not dead but alive and kicking.

From what we saw on television, spirits were high in both camps, something any good leader and members of the hierarchy should seek to capitalise on. Still, we knew that in the end, one group would have been left in tears. This would be a crucial moment for whichever Peter emerged victorious and a defining moment for demonstrable unity in the party.

But alas, many of us, including journalists, watching the announcement were left in utter disbelief as the Comrade leader, Dr Peter Phillips, delivered a most ungracious acceptance speech by referring to Rise United supporters as “the other side”. Surely, his One PNP supporters will defend his feeble attempt at extending the olive branch. However, we note that not once did he mention Peter Bunting’s name in his address. Not once did he properly name Comrades and invite them to unite.

Sir, referring to your own colleagues as “they” is a poor showing, and you missed a grand opportunity to unite your Comrades right there on the ground. At least then, half the battle would have been won.

Imagine how many beautiful shots the media photographers would have captured as Comrades clad in One PNP and Rise United gear hugged each other and sent a strong signal to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the country at large. It also doesn’t help that in the aftermath, One PNP supporters have taken on the likeness of dons all over social media and mobile phones, gloating and issuing expulsion threats.

Start from ground zero

Now, instead, you must start from ground zero trying to unite a party split right down the middle. I commend Mr Bunting, who was gracious in defeat, acknowledging you by name twice in a four-minute interview while you were on stage referring to Rise United supporters as “ they” and the “other side”.

Labourites are on social media circulating photographs of Andrew Holness and Audley Shaw on stage in a show of unity immediately following their presidential race. What a contrast!

Dr Phillips, get over yourself. Peter Bunting did not invent the concept of a PNP leadership challenge. You know this all too well. For the sake of your legacy and your beloved party, get over it and move on.

Robert Kennedy gave a speech that prevented riots in Indianapolis following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King. Look it up on YouTube. Words are powerful. Please get yourself a good speechwriter. You will need to deliver the speech of your political career come conference day in a few weeks. Every single word will count.

You may have won the election, but you have lost some hearts. The word is love.

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