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Letter of the day | To be effective, PNP must put personal ambitions aside

Published:Wednesday | July 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Factions within the People's National Party have been calling for a renewal. These same factions have been subliminally calling for the resignation of the party leader and some other high ranking members as part of the so called renewal process. I am in agreement with the call for renewal; every organisation must constantly examine its position as the world changes and make necessary adjustment to remain relevant and effective.

However, I believe the people calling for renewal of the PNP haven't grasped the true concept of renewal. Renewal has more to do with ideology and direction. A political party can be renewed and restructured without replacing or removing any of its members. The party may remove all of its senior officers and replace them with younger, vibrant members but if there is no change in operation, then renewal will not be accomplished. The party would have been renewed in appearance but not renewed in actuality. I have heard people calling for renewal but have not heard them state what they expect the party to look like after it's renewed, or what they think should be the outcome of the renewal. The expected end result must be established before the renewal process begins, otherwise there will be no standard set to determine if the mission was accomplished or failed.

The factions calling for renewal must make a decision and be honest about it. Are they calling for renewal because of the election defeat or is it because the organisation is in need of reform. Are they calling for a renewal of the party's principles and ideology or are they calling for just new faces. New faces might gain traction and even return the party to power but it cannot initiate the change that is necessary for the party to be the dominant force it once was. The party must make a unified decision as to the direction in which they must now head. Will they return to democratic socialism? Will they become capitalist? Is there an ideology more suitable for the party at this point in time?

After that decision is made, the party must then decide the best persons to lead them in this new direction. The destination must be determined before the vehicle is chosen. The decision of direction might make the selection of a leader even simpler; all the leadership aspirants have built a reputation for themselves over the years. People already know where each stands as it relates to political ideology and approach to governance.

Whatever destination the party decides for itself may be in line with the vision of a leadership aspirant, and that person may naturally become the most suitable candidate. It could even be decided that the current leader is most suitable to continue leading, if the new direction of the party is in line with her leadership style.

There may be officers who need to resign in order for the renewal to take place; however the focus should be about where the party goes from where it is now and how it will get there.

Officers calling for certain officers' resignation must remember that they were also a part of the organisation that lost its way and lost the general elections, the party failed as a unit, no one individual is to be blamed. The party must show that they are able to stand together even in defeat. Now is the time to put personal ambitions aside and determine the needs of Jamaicans and how the PNP intends to restructure in order to be an effective opposition, and ready for an election whenever it may come.

Garth Thompson