Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Amid grumbling from within the People's National Party (PNP) as it enters its annual confab, the secretariat is seeking to dispel suggestions of malaise and silence critics with a massive turnout at its 74th annual conference this weekend.
PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill told journalists yesterday that more than 30 overseas delegates are expected to be in attendance.
He said the cultural events tonight would facilitate a presentation of the history of the PNP in parts titled - 'Reflection of the PNP's Contribution to Independent Jamaica'.
Pickersgill, as well as prominent members of the secretariat, shrugged off any concern that the perceived melancholy gripping the party and the country was likely to undermine the turnout for the three-day confab.
"There is no malaise," declared Pickersgill during a press conference held to outline the slate of events for the three-day confab, which is scheduled to start later today with a cultural presentation at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters.
He contended that the expectation levels as a result of the PNP victory in December 2011 were high.
"We warned the electorate and we have said that we are coming from rock bottom," he said.
Pickersgill was supported by General Secretary Peter Bunting, who argued that the PNP was settling off after two electoral victories in close succession.
Not even the potentially explosive situation among Comrades in the troubled East Rural St Andrew constituency threatening to rock the conference would faze Pickersgill.
The PNP chairman warded off questions by declaring that yesterday's press conference was not about the dispute.
"It is not on the agenda. That is not to say it will not emerge in the question-and-answer element of the private session," he said
Hopes to set pace
As it did a year ago, the PNP leadership hopes today to set the pace for the next two days with a cultural presentation this evening at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew.
Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson said the visitors were primarily from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
"There are a number of political parties which have sent senior representatives," disclosed Robinson.
Among the guests who will be in attendance are Guyana's opposition leader, Brigadier David Ranger, the leader of the People's National Congress Reform; as well as Ashton Ford, the general secretary of the People's National Movement in Trinidad and Tobago; chairman of the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, Dr Timothy Harris, and representatives of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Robinson said representatives of foreign affiliates of the PNP would also be in attendance.