Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Letter of the Day | Young blood and women in politics

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2020 | 12:10 AM

Dr Peter Phillips, leader of the Opposition, has given over 25 years of what Krystal Tomlinson, PNPYO president, described as “sterling service” to politics. Given his years of experience, we hope it has afforded him the wisdom to have made the right choices in selecting the members to create the Opposition’s Senate.

The eight persons we can expect to occupy oppositional seats in the Upper House are: Gabriela Morris, Donna Scott Mottley, Lambert Brown, Norman Horne, Sophia Fraser, Damion Crawford, Janice Allen and Dr Floyd Morris.

President Tomlinson has been the subject of criticism, for a letter sent from her office which was addressed to Dr Phillips. The letter, dated September 14, 2020, has been circulating on different media platforms; it addresses the need for the party to “change or die”. Thus giving the party leader an ultimatum of 30 days to resign. Phillips had publicly stated that should the party be defeated in the general election, he would be resigning from office. As the letter neared its end, it made seven recommendations (Michael Hemmings, Zuleika Jess, Omar Newell, Raymond Pryce, Krystal Tomlinson, Patricia Duncan-Sutherland, Wavell Hinds) to be among those to form the Opposition’s Senate.

What was unfortunate, but not totally surprising, was that none of the seven recommendations mentioned in the letter was selected. The list consists of defeated runners in the general election, with the exception of Omar Newell.

Citizens have cried for the chance of seeing more young people being in politics. Therefore, it is commendable that Dr Phillips has heeded the cry and introduced a young woman who just exited an undergraduate programme from The University of the West Indies, to be a member of Senate. Tracing the history of women in politics, what is even more commendable is that the party leader ‘did good’ on his promise to appoint 50 per cent women in this elected office.

Revise ‘party’s tradition’

In trying to ‘do good’ on said promise, it is imperative that the PNP’s selection was done from a place of thoughtful and calculated decisioning. There is a proverbial saying, new broom sweeps clean, but old broom knows the corners. Owing to this, it is important that persons with great expertise and knowledge of the political environment lead, rather than offering the posts to newer faces solely for the sake of ‘young blood and having women in politics’. In fact, it might be time to revise what is considered as the ‘party’s tradition’ in the selection of senators, in which candidates who did not win a seat are overlooked, as there are multiple variables to political defeat than incompetency.

With that said, it is no time for the PNP to ‘gamble’ or to provide a lengthy training ground or learning curve for its senators. It is time for immediate reconstruction, revamping, with emotions aside, to do what is good for the party and the nation.

Notably, the party is now back at 14 seats after the magisterial recount confirmed that the PNP has lost its Eastern Westmoreland seat, a seat once held by political veteran P.J. Patterson. The Opposition’s Senate has a great responsibility now more than ever, so their choice must be on point.