PNP re­newal post­poned or non-ex­is­tent?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Tina Re­nier Guest Colum­nist ITina Re­nier is a mem­ber of the Pol­icy and Ad­vo­cacy Com­mit­tee of the Ja­maica Youth Ad­vo­cacy Net­work. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

AS A re­sult of the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party’s shock­ing de­feat at the 2016 polls, there has been a crescendo of calls for re­newal in the party’s ap­proach to gov­er­nance, as well as the reeval­u­a­tion of its po­lit­i­cal iden­tity in or­der to re­con­nect with the strug­gles of ev­ery Ja­maican, es­pe­cially the masses.

Among the dis­il­lu­sioned masses lies an ex­u­ber­ant spirit of cyn­i­cism and scep­ti­cism about the fu­ture of our coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment and the com­mon per­cep­tion that pol­i­tics has un­der­mined the bright po­ten­tial and di­rec­tion of Ja­maica.

While ap­a­thetic youth on so­cial me­dia and ‘pon di corna’ de­scribe pol­i­tics as crap in deep fury and frus­tra­tion, the PNP is still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing vi­cious, in­ter­nal power strug­gles in an ef­fort to de­ter­mine the def­i­ni­tion and di­rec­tion of re­newal, and whether re­newal is needed at this cru­cial point in its po­lit­i­cal his­tory.

One must high­light the most re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the party’s in­ter­nal vice-pres­i­den­tial elec­tions and the out­comes. One can­not negate the fact that the del­e­gates have spo­ken through free and fair means by demo­crat­i­cally elect­ing their four favoured vi­cepres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, but the loss of young and dy­namic Lisa Hanna sym­bol­ises the fact that there are con­se­quences to be borne when new blood chal­lenges the old po­lit­i­cal or­der.

The con­se­quence of chal­leng­ing tra­di­tions and the old po­lit­i­cal or­der in the ex­am­ple of Lisa Hanna is an elec­toral loss in the bid for sec­ond-tier lead­er­ship in the party.

Sec­ond, Hanna’s loss is an enor­mous dis­ap­point­ment for youth in­volve­ment in shap­ing and ad­vanc­ing Ja­maica’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape through a bold, so­lu­tions-ori­ented ap­proach rather than void po­lit­i­cal rhetoric.

A 2016 re­search done by Re­spect Ja­maica, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF), as­serts this po­si­tion of youth dis­em­pow­er­ment by il­lus­trat­ing that 80 per cent of youth be­lieve that pol­i­tics (govern­ment) is not do­ing enough to em­power and en­gage their co­hort.

FEEL­ING OF EX­CLU­SION

This, there­fore, means that young peo­ple in Ja­maica feel ex­cluded from the pro­cesses of gov­er­nance and de­ci­sion-mak­ing and that their views are not taken se­ri­ously into ac­count when help­ing to chart Ja­maica’s des­tiny. It can also be in­ter­preted that there is lim­ited room for cre­ative, in­no­va­tive and work­able ideas and vibrant per­son­al­i­ties that could help to develop stronger pub­lic-pol­icy frame­works that will even­tu­ally achieve sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

This not only helps to in­crease frus­tra­tion and dis­trust of youth to­wards the is­sues of pol­i­tics ver­sus gov­er­nance, but it also re­veals that change and re­newal are not pri­or­ity is­sues in the agenda of Ja­maica’s pol­i­tics. Ja­maica’s po­lit­i­cal party sys­tem has been gov­erned by the gen­eral prin­ci­ple, ‘do­ers don’t sur­vive and sur­vivors don’t do’.

This sim­ply means that in or­der to as­cend to higher po­si­tions of power, a leader has to align him­self/her­self with the in­ter­ests of the elites of the party and fol­low the un­writ­ten sta­tus quo, but if one rebels, there are se­ri­ous con­se­quences to be faced such as an elec­toral loss or sidelin­ing, in the case of an­other vo­cal and promis­ing young politi­cian, Damion Craw­ford.

Un­will­ing­ness to learn that change is in­evitable, and fail­ure to be open to new ideas and un­lock the nu­mer­ous pos­si­bil­i­ties of a new era can lead the party in Op­po­si­tion to com­mit fur­ther po­lit­i­cal suicide. We must then de­cide, is re­newal post­poned or non-ex­is­tent in the PNP?

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Richard Lake (right), Burger King mag­nate, seeks to con­sole his part­ner, Lisa Hanna, af­ter she lost out on her bid to break into the vice-pres­i­den­tial ranks of the PNP last Satur­day.

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