Ruling party to be ready for election by March
Paul Burke, known for his exploits in Region Three and as a stickler for the enforcement of party rules, will get the opportunity this weekend to prove his mettle as general secretary of a People's National Party (PNP) afflicted by mid-term malaise.
Burke, known for his capacity to organise and mobilise, has promised to hit the ground running after the conference and to have the party ready for national elections by March 1, 2015.
Having replaced Peter Bunting earlier this year at the administrative centre stage, this will be Burke's first real test as general secretary.
But with some Comrades in an obvious state of disquiet, Burke has his work cut out for him.
Chairman Robert Pickersgill has acknowledged that some PNP constituency workers have telegraphed their own anxieties as the mid-term melancholy sets in.
The new PNP general secretary takes control of this year's confab after its milestone 75th anniversary celebrations that attracted numerous leaders from across the globe a year ago.
A former thorn-in-the-flesh conference personality, Burke has been an irritating stickler in the past for the enforcement of party rules. He is also a noted Region Three loyalist of PNP President Portia Simpson Miller.
Seated beside Burke during yesterday's press conference at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew, Pickersgill conceded that the party was set to ease into a more introspective conference.
"Throughout the six Regional Executive Councils, our own delegates and leaders at the constituency and divisional levels have telegraphed their own anxieties that, as we passed the symbolic 30-month mark, there is much work that still needs to be done," Pickersgill said.
"We expect, therefore, that the conference agenda, which includes an interactive question-and-answer session with Cabinet ministers, will yield robust discussions as we qualify and quantify the achievements to date, compared with the environment in which we have had to govern … ," he added.
In the scheme of things, there is little interest in internal elections this year, with the PNP president for nine years, come February 25, 2015, not expected to face any challenge. Neither are the four PNP vice-presidents - Angela Brown Burke, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Derrick Kellier and Noel Arscott.