It will be easy for Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to be dragged along by the euphoria of the occasion when she today addresses the 75th annual conference of the People's National Party (PNP), drenched in the adulation of many thousands of her party's supporters.
Mrs Simpson Miller, however, must resist the temptation, as difficult as that may be, to deliver the kind of rhetorically emotive speech, high on drama, that is all too common at such political events.
Jamaicans, at the end of Mrs Simpson Miller's speech, should have a clear idea of what she stands for, and, therefore, how she intends to spend her personal political capital and utilise her authority as national leader in the three years remaining in the term of her Government.
This has been a missing component of Mrs Simpson Miller's leadership - a seeming absence of core beliefs, or large strategic vision for either her party or Government. A confluence of circumstances, however, makes it imperative that the PM address these issues lest the party and Jamaica maintain their sense of drift.
Mrs Simpson Miller, for instance, has cast herself as custodian of the principles upon which Norman Manley founded the PNP. Among the values associated with Norman Manley and the PNP under his leadership are intellectual curio-sity and governance and leadership steeped in morality. The ends didn't automatically justify the means.
These are standards from which the PNP, long before the ascension of Mrs Simpson Miller to its leadership, has drifted. Whatever the intended ends, it has evolved largely into an election machinery, for which the embrace of political garrisons and elasticity of morals apparently caused no discomfort.
So, a prime minister of a Government of the PNP could, for half a year, even though he admitted wrongdoing, rationalise the continued presence of Richard Azan in her administration, or remain quiet on the call by a party member, who is a mayor of a major town, for the police to shoot suspected criminals and ask questions after.
The same leader waffled on the Trafigura affair, and then allowed her party to go on to another money scandal by receiving campaign gifts from confessed Ponzi scheme operator, David Smith.
These issues of transparency and moral governance impinge on the ability of a leader to coax the best out of citizens, including their support for tough transformative programmes, such as those required for the Jamaican economy. But they must be the pillars that sustain political institutions and those who lead them.
In the case of the PNP, after 75 years, these pillars need shoring up. Its president must convince us it is a task at, and in, hand.
This doesn't mean that the PNP is without plenty history that made Jamaica better; that the party is now without value or merit; or that Mrs Simpson Miller doesn't bring much to the table. Indeed, her capacity to communicate with the most Jamaicans is an underutilised asset, especially in mobilising the country in support of the administration's difficult economic programme. It is almost as if Mrs Simpson Miller is fearful of dispensing political capital on the venture.
Hopefully, today will mark a new paradigm for the PNP and the Government, fully and clearly signalled by Mrs Simpson Miller.
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