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Shannon V.T. Dumphries | PNP needs a reality check

Published:Sunday | July 24, 2016 | 7:00 AMShannon V.T. Dumphries
Though seen smiling here in this September 16, 2010, photograph, they aren’t too chummy nowadays. Karl Blythe has said Portia Simpson Miller should pack her bags and go, and he has re-emerged from the political grave to ensure she doesn’t get a free pass to the PNP presidency.

The People's National Party (PNP) either has absolutely no respect for the nation's intelligence or is totally and completely out of touch with reality. And why do I say so? Since the PNP lost the general election of February 25, 2016, the public has listened with varying degrees of interest to the many episodes of infighting that have taken place within that party. Clearly, the PNP is in shambles.

We now hear that with local government elections on the horizon, party dissenters are being encouraged not to challenge the party leader at this time because they have a local government election to win. The Comrades seem to be aware that there are deep rifts in the party, but there are local government elections that must be won, so they are posturing to present themselves to the public as a united front, rake up all sorts of dirt on the Jamaica Labour Party, and, no matter how ludicrous it is, they will tear down every idea that this new Government has put forward.

Amid the haze of continuous criticism, they suppose that the gullible Jamaican public will vote for them in the local government elections, after which they can return to their infighting. After all, the PNP is, first and foremost, an election-winning machine. That is its raison d'etre. Therefore, reuniting the party and sorting out the many differences that are threatening to rip it apart are secondary to the main focus.

The party MUST win the local government elections, for, lest anyone forget, this is PNP country, and only the PNP knows how to run this country. Very sad, but this is the kind of irrational thinking you invariably get from power-hungry people.

Somebody needs to give the PNP a reality check. Comrades completely misread the mood of the people in February and it seems that they are about to do so again. Who do they think they would be fooling when all of a sudden they now pose as a united front? Every member of the public who has a radio, television, or access to social media knows otherwise.

Both my parents, who are now deceased, were staunch PNP supporters. My father became a supporter of this party in its early years with Norman Manley at the helm, and up to the time of his death in 2015, he remained loyal to that party. I have voted for both parties in my lifetime. But the PNP that my parents supported is now a shadow of what it once was, just as how some high schools that were prominent years ago by virtue of the calibre of students they had enrolled there have declined comparatively.

The PNP is now overrun with ruthless, arrogant, power-hungry, opportunistic people whose appetite for power is threatening to destroy the movement. They so pride themselves in their ability to win elections that this has become their only preoccupation. For many years now, I have not heard any novel, refreshing, cutting-edge ideas coming out of the party, and I am not surprised because their leader, while priding herself on being able to pull crowds, is often very simplistic in her unscripted utterances. Her observed inability to adequately and comfortably discuss issues and ideas, particularly on the spur of the moment, is well known.

Portia Simpson Miller's age is not the problem. Hillary Clinton is running for president of the USA at age 68, and she stands a very good chance of winning. From where I sit, it would seem that Mrs Simpson Miller has rendered herself dated and irrelevant by not sufficiently keeping abreast of global and local issues to the point where she can discuss them with any measure of ease.

Based on what I observed in the lead-up to the general election last February, she failed to ensure that her political strategies remained current. To illustrate, her failure to recognise that we now have a more sophisticated Jamaican electorate that is more interested in hearing politicians debate issues, instead of attending campaign meetings to listen to politicians shouting, tearing down their competitors and jumping up and down on stage, worked against her.

In addition, there was also the failure on her part to recognise the importance of social media in any modern-day campaign strategy. President Obama used social media to his advantage and became the first black president of the United States of America. In a nutshell, Mrs Simpson Miller has failed to keep pace with the changing times, and her brand of politics is now declared old school.

 

LACKING  INTELLECTUALS

 

The PNP might have several moneyed people in its ranks, but there is a paucity of true intellectuals. Therein lies part of the dilemma the party faces.

If I might offer some unsolicited advice to the PNP, it is this: Your party has clearly imploded. Therefore, you need to, as a matter of urgency, make every effort to rebuild and regroup. That ought to be Priority No. 1.

And while you are on the local government campaign trail, please show some respect for the intelligence of the Jamaican people and stop politicising crime. Crime should never be a political platform topic because any sensible Jamaican would hope that the ruling JLP is smart enough to know that an upsurge in crime can in no way assist its growth and prosperity agenda. So spare us such utterances as "all of a sudden crime shoot up since the JLP tek over", clearly insinuating that the ruling JLP is responsible for the upsurge in crime. Why would the JLP want to sabotage its own agenda?

Peter Phillips et al, we are tired of your desperate, ridiculous and often downright misleading utterances.

- Shannon V.T. Dumphries is a development-studies practitioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.