G. Anthony Hylton | Sober leadership required from and within the PNP
Not for the first time in its history, the oldest political party in the English-speaking Caribbean, the People’s National Party (PNP), is being called upon to elect or appoint a new leader, consequent on the outcome of a general election loss. The circumstances surrounding this particular loss, while important to the topic, provide only the context rather than being the focus of this article.
The holding of the general election in the middle of the worst pandemic to be visited upon the world and Jamaica in the last century, its impact on the world and national economies and people, the continuing public health challenges in taming the spread of the virus, together with the announced resignation of the current party leader from an already fractured party still reeling from a historic loss, provide the impetus for this appeal to my party colleagues and comrades.
Already, the early signs are not good. Various persons (among whom are PNP members and supporters) have taken to social media with views ranging from consternation at the loss of the election, to the condemnation of individuals at leadership levels within and outside the party. Yet, others are seeking to ‘amp up’ support for their preferred candidate(s) over the social media and on the ground in communities, while engaging in the politics of personal destruction. This cannot and will not assist in rebuilding the party unity required in the circumstances. More heat, less light is being generated.
I have stepped-out of my usual quiet-but-observant corner in the various party organs in which I currently serve to express concern, indeed alarm, at the increased risks to the party of further fracturing and descent into irrelevance at this critical period in the people’s struggle to survive in the post-COVID-19 environment. Also, to offer a cautionary note for us to collectively pull back from the precipice and to proceed to higher and safer ground in the process of deciding on a successor to the presidency of the party.
It is my considered view that this sacred duty of choosing a successor to the presidency should proceed with a careful-but-expeditious assessment of the needs of the party at this juncture in our history, while being responsive to the views of important segments of, and institutions in, the society at large, both here and in the diaspora. The complex nature of our changing society, together with the urgent need to understand the requirements for growing the economy in ways that are inclusive and sustainable, is a critical consideration.
The ubiquitous nature of technology and social media and their centrality to a wide range of purposes, from education, through manufacturing, agriculture, logistics to cultural endeavours, is ignored at our peril. The genuine participation of under-represented sections of our society, our youth, women and disabled so as to lift our economy with “all hands on deck”, is impatient of debate. The undergirding of all we do with enforceable mechanisms to weed out corruption and restore integrity and trust in our governance arrangements is a condition precedent to robust growth and the restoration of our true national identity.
It is only by fully taking into account these complexities and the need to identify the core values, skill sets, vision, maturity and emotional intelligence of those choosing to ‘throw their hat into the ring’ as necessary attributes for the succeeding party president to possess, will we be able to demonstrate to Jamaicans the inherent strength of the party and its current prospects for providing sober, yet inspired, leadership to the people of Jamaica, the party, and the wider region.
The need to engage in sober reflection and to move away from the politics of personality and personal destruction, if embraced, will ignite the latent support for the party among the critical individuals, groups, organs, and structures, both within and outside the party.
I take this opportunity to urge my colleagues, comrades, and party supporters to cease and desist from the personality politics and the politics of destruction, and to choose instead a more reflective and responsive approach to deciding on our next party president, thereby crowning ourselves in the glory that the PNP has previously basked in and is quite capable of experiencing again.
We are called to respond to this historic moment and to choose the sober-but-inspiring leadership that the party, the country and the world demand from us at this moment of crisis and complexity.
Let’s choose the path of enlightenment and eschew darkness before it’s too late!
- Ambassador G. Anthony Hylton is member of parliament-elect for Western St Andrew Constituency and partner at Samuda & Johnson Law Firm. Send feedback to email@example.com.