'Comradery' underlines 79th conference
In making no secret of their intention to reclaim the reins of governance, solidarity shone brightest yesterday at the National Arena in Kingston as thousands of euphoric Comrades banded together for an incident-free final day of the People's National Party's (PNP) 79th annual conference at the National Arena in Kingston.
"There's no division in the party," PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson told The Gleaner as he said that all members of the party were out in support of Dr Peter Phillips and his vision to drive the movement forward.
Robinson said one of the many successes of the 79th staging was the private session with delegates, during which the number of groups per constituency was capped, as well as the role of members of parliament in the constitution formalised.
Former parliamentarian Damion Crawford said he believed the party was functioning on one accord, stating that the conference was a day to "resist the other side" despite internal differences.
While scanty in number early on, the first omen of a party, like atmosphere in the making came shortly after 11 a.m., as Basil Waite took to the podium to introduce the party's executive body, beginning with the 'Chairman for Life', Robert Pickersgill, who was greeted with rapturous applause.
Minutes later, on the outside, Comrades were sent scampering under tents for shelter as light rainfall threatened to put a damper on the celebrations.
As time continued to tick away, Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses and Coasters arrived, causing the crowd to swell beyond the confines of the National Arena.
By 2 p.m., the venue was bursting at the seams, much to the chagrin of the police and security personnel tasked with manning entry points.
While admitting that persons had displayed rowdy behaviour over the four days, police personnel confirmed that the event saw just a few friendly verbal skirmishes, none of which turned violent.
The entrance of PNP heavyweights past and present would continue to reinvigorate the crowd at intervals, perhaps none more so than new kid on the block, Dr Shane Alexis, who raised his clenched fist high as supporters engulfed him en route to the arena.
As expected, immediate PNP past president Portia Simpson Miller and former president P.J. Patterson also enjoyed much fanfare.
Banners, horns and flags were also in abundance, with those sporting them passionately calling for a speedy return to power.