Senior PNP official says delegate vote shows party won’t reward failure
Sunday, September 25, 2016
People’s National Party (PNP) official AJ Nicholson has said that Lisa Hanna’s defeat in the party’s vice-presidental election on September 17 was a strong statement by the delegates that failure cannot be rewarded or elevated.
According to Nicholson, who served as Jamaica’s foregn minister in the last PNP Administration, none of the other aspirants for the PNP’s four vice-presidents post is afflicted by a lack of political astuteness, or saddled with an unfortunate show of poor judgment.
In a letter to the editor of the Jamaica Observer, Nicholson, a former member of parliament and the PNP’s legal advisor, gave a stinging assessment of Hanna, the MP for St Ann South Eastern, whose vice-presidential bid ended with her receiving 1,570 votes.
Dr Fenton Ferguson came out on top, polling 2,479 votes, Wykeham McNeill received 2,395, while Noel Arscott scored 2,207, and Angela Brown Burke got 2,009.
At the post-election news conference, PNP President Portia Simpson Miller offered a special word of encouragement to Hanna, who put on a brave face to join the victorious candidates on stage inside the National Arena.
“Don’t worry, your time will come,” Simpson Miller told Hanna.
Nicholson’s letter referenced that quote, which the Observer noted in its editorial last Monday.
“That might be true; Hanna’s time may indeed come in the future. But the delegates of NW Manley’s party have certainly sent a salutary message to all who would be humble and soul-searching enough to acknowledge and take to heart: You cannot reward and elevate failure,” Nicholson wrote.
Here is a lightly edited version of his letter.
People’s National Party President Portia Simpson Miller and the Observer editorial board appear to be in one accord in relation to the prospects of Lisa Hanna attaining to a higher leadership position within the party. “Your time will come,” they intone in the wake of an eye-opening delegates’ vote, even as the editorial of Monday, September 19 was so much more expansive.
That might be true; Hanna’s time may indeed come in the future. But the delegates of NW Manley’s party have certainly sent a salutary message to all who would be humble and soul-searching enough to acknowledge and take to heart: You cannot reward and elevate failure. How do I mean? Well, let us consider the following.
First, at the constituency level. Hanna was gifted the best constituency, bar none, in all of Jamaica, the only one in which the citizens have voted one way, and one way only, from the beginning in 1944. It is not a constituency that is prone to prolonged bickering, not even when the son of the revered late Dr Ivan Lloyd was yanked from his studies in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s to contest the seat, unsuccessfully of course, on a JLP ticket against the irrepressible ‘Foggy’ Mullings.
And yet, Hanna has displayed the kind of (non)leadership in this hitherto politically pristine constituency that has led to three out of four councillors in the place being totally against her and not communicating with her, thereby taking the constituency into an unknown negative, tension-filled territory.
Second, Hanna was, during the recent general election campaign, the regional chairperson for St Ann and Trelawny. Right next to her traditionally strong South East St Ann constituency is the constituency of South West St Ann, then held by the PNP. The regional chairperson, turning steadfastly away from South West St Ann, chose to campaign at length in South Trelawny, held by the JLP.
The outcome? South West St Ann losing by a mere 200-plus votes and the PNP’s losing margin in South Trelawny the worst since the constituency came into being.
So that, weighed in the balance at the constituency, parish and regional levels, the political stewardship of the aspirant is found seriously wanting.
How then is it possible for the voter delegate not to consider it passing strange that he is being urged to reward failure of this sort with promotion, elevation, for her to occupy one of the second-tier presidential positions in the party, no less?
None of the other four aspirants is perfect; they all fall within the family of Homo sapiens – like all of us, imperfect. But none of them is afflicted by this lack of political astuteness, or saddled with this unfortunate show of poor judgment. And so, is there then any surprise that, by their vote, the delegates sent forth a strong, sharp rebuke?
There is, too, good reason to look beyond the parochial and the regional to consider service rendered at the national level, to try to discern whether such service has been so outstanding as to trump that poor political contribution, erasing that quite unhappy political resume.
Stripped of everything else, there is no evidence that her stint as minister of youth served to inspire many young voters to cast their vote for our party, the PNP, as the preferred choice.
NW’s party could never be seen openly to reward failure. The delegates set the examination; they mark the papers; and they are the ones who make the grades known.
Lesson learnt: The delegates say that if you want to be elevated within the PNP, solid expression of sound political work over time constitutes the core of the subject-matter on which the examination is set. You ought not to seek to persuade me, a delegate, to reward proven failure in that field.
That is, of course, a lesson, an inescapable rule of renewal, whatever course that renewal is to take. There is no denying that the PNP is now travelling through a corridor of change. We are duty bound to emerge from that corridor vowing once again to abide by one of the party’s hallowed principles, which is, never to reward failure with promotion.
That is one of the lasting messages from the vote that was taken as the 78th anniversary of the People’s National Party came upon us. Lisa Hanna’s day may come, as is projected. But surely, the first step in moving towards that glorious day must be for her to set about healing those debilitating political wounds that afflict the South East St Ann constituency. The dance must certainly begin at home.
That message of wholesome dancing at the home base, coming out of last Saturday’s vote, is therefore also obviously directed at the party as part of the platform of positive change. Renewal cannot mean rewarding and encouraging failure.
So, curiously enough, the delegates have used the unhappy circumstances that existed in our party at the moment of its 78th anniversary to begin again to openly demonstrate what must be done to meet the political demands that are set.
And for that task, dedicated toil in the vineyard, tact, selflessness and a loving engaging spirit are essential ingredients – tools that always help in any sustained effort to meet those demands. Seymour ‘Foggy’ Mullings would have told us so. We who have ears to hear, let us hear!