The Peoples National Party currently and for a long time has not been a viable opposition to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party. When Dr. Peter Phillips took over the reins of the party, it was expected that he would signal changes that would take the party forward. However, his leadership has been found to be uninspiring, the renewal has stalled and they still lack a unified message and vision for the country.
With all due respect for Dr. Peter Philips, he lacks the charisma, charm and a functional team around him to inspire any sort of confidence in his ability to be a better leader. In stark contrast, when the Hon. Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaks- you listen, he ensconces himself within every crowd and is loved by young and old. Dr. Phillips has failed to unite the party since he took over, as a matter of fact it is more divided than it was when he took over as indicated by just how tumultuous and bitter the PNP’s presidential race was. Dr. Phillips barely won the election which suggests almost half of the party does not see him as a viable leader.
The PNP have been singing the renewal tune for several years now but it seems the record has been scratched or permanently pulled up. The PNP top brass is still reflective of old politicians with the same outdated ideas and archaic politics that is driving the youth further and further away from the party. The so called young and bright minds of the PNP are not as popular or likeable as they would have hoped. Ms. Hanna comes in for flack every time she chooses to address foreign affairs. The PNP’s roll out of Dr. Shane Alexis was so poorly done, it ruined any chance he had at winning the by-election South East St Mary in and then there is Dr. Andre Haughton whose public speaking needs a lot of work and who also seems to speak out of turn. Lastly you have Damian Crawford, the bright hope of many, who has proven to be a man of too many words and little action. He recently reneged on his promise to stay in East Portland despite losing the recently concluded by- election there, stating that it was a financial burden on him and his business was struggling.
The PNP cannot form and present their ideas in any sort of structured manner and their members continually embarrass themselves on social media by uttering anything that comes to mind. Members such as Mr. Crawford, Ms. Tomlinson & Senator Lambert Brown are famous for their outlandish social media utterances and exchanges.
The PNP are struggling with optics, scrambling to find talking points and latching on to every scandal to push their agendas but even this isn’t picking up traction or drumming up support as they would have hoped. The party cannot seriously speak about corruption from their moral high ground when they fail to address the scandals that happened under their watch. The party have also retained members accused of participating or benefiting from corruption who are still in the forefront of their leadership.
General Secretary, Julian Robinson, recently alleged that there’s evidence that the JLP-administration’s 1-point-5 income tax break plan has hurt more Jamaicans than those it has benefited without providing information to support that claim. Similarly, The PNP’s campaign director recently claimed to have a crime plan but says they will only share it once the election campaign has been properly kicked off. In a recent press release, the PNP claimed that Rudyard spencer’s resignation as member of parliament for South East Clarendon, was hastened and is indicative of the fact the JLP has no confidence in their abilities to win the next general election. The release claims that “Jamaicans are overwhelmed with murder, fearful crime, unprecedented governmental corruption and a stagnating economy” but the PNP have not presented any clear or sensible ideas of what they would do to combat any of these issues and present themselves as a viable alternative to the current government.
The level of communications and vibrancy displayed throughout the leadership campaign by Peter Bunting’s Rise United Team during the leadership race, shows that the party has the capacity do much better than we have been accustomed to. Until the leadership presents a clearly defined vision for the country, speed up the party’s renewal process and focus more on the issues and not vilifying the Prime Minister, the only course the PNP are on, is the one for a very heavy election defeat.