Can PNP post­mortem RAISE THE DEAD?

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Gor­don Robinson is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­

THE OP­PO­SI­TION’S lo­cal govern­ment guru, Noel Arscott, pre­dicted a PNP “clean sweep” of the parish coun­cils in the up­com­ing elec­tions. Al­righty then! His party, com­ing off a dev­as­tat­ing de­feat seven months ago, com­mis­sioned a ful­some in­ter­nal ap­praisal that was pre­sented to the party in June. How many of the rec­om­men­da­tions has the PNP im­ple­mented in its quest to pro­duce the pre­dicted elec­toral tri­umph?

So far, our in­trepid me­dia have re­ported on the ap­praisal re­port: (a) from a cir­cu­lated ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary only; and (b) as if it was a Ju­lian Robinson cre­ation.

In re­al­ity, there were 16 com­mit­tee mem­bers from ev­ery level of the party: Ju­lian Robinson (chair­man),

Wensworth Sk­ef­frey, Mark Gold­ing, Scean Barn­swell, Dena Davis, Dr Peter-John Gor­don, An­dré An­der­son; An­drae Blair, Dr Bev­erly Shirley, Noel Slo­ley Jr, Pa­trick Casserly, Dr Al­fred Dawes, Basil Waite, and sec­re­tar­iat per­son­nel Camille Atkin­son, Dexroy Martin and Davaroe Robotham. Re­gard­ing method­ol­ogy, the re­port states: “The com­mit­tee met with a wide cross sec­tion of stake­hold­ers within, and ex­ter­nal to, the party. These in­cluded mem­bers of the of­fi­cers corps; mem­bers of the Na­tional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee; spe­cific can­di­dates and cam­paign man­agers; spe­cific con­stituen­cies teams; and other sup­port­ers. The com­mit­tee also hosted three fo­cus group ses­sions with young vot­ers. Jour­nal­ists, poll­sters and lead­ers of civil-so­ci­ety groups were also in­ter­viewed.

“The com­mit­tee es­tab­lished a so­cial me­dia pres­ence on dif­fer­ent plat­forms, ... . An email ad­dress was also set up. We re­ceived over 100 sub­mis­sions from the pub­lic.”

This was no pyaw-pyaw ap­praisal. This rep­re­sented to­tal qual­ity man­age­ment at its best. The com­mit­tee’s find­ings were di­vided among three cat­e­gories: govern­ment, party and cam­paign.

Un­der ‘Govern­ment’, the com­mit­tee found that the Govern­ment’s achieve­ments weren’t ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cated and Govern­ment failed to suf­fi­ciently em­pha­sise ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion as a core ac­tiv­ity in mod­ern gov­er­nance. Worse, links be­tween the Eco­nomic Re­form Pro­gramme’s (ERP) sac­ri­fices, the over­all plan, and the “wider his­toric strug­gle/mis­sion of the party” were “not suf­fi­ciently com­mu­ni­cated”. Ex­am­ples in­cluded: Con­struc­tion of the northsouth leg of High­way 2000 wasn’t com­mu­ni­cated as part of a larger eco­nomic and so­cial pro­gramme but as an end in it­self. While sev­eral schools’ re­moval from the shift sys­tem was com­mu­ni­cated, the ben­e­fits weren’t. Ex­pan­sion of the so­cial safety net was not suf­fi­ciently em­pha­sised. Silence on his­toric and trans­for­ma­tive re­form of Ja­maica’s ganja laws. The ERP wasn’t com­mu­ni­cated as a pre­con­di­tion for sus­tained eco­nomic growth, but as an ex­ter­nally im­posed in­con­ve­nience. Be­cause of poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion, per­sons came to be­lieve the growth agenda was sep­a­rate from the ERP. So, ‘oth­ers’ could claim they’d pro­vide growth while of­fer­ing im­me­di­ate re­lief from the ERP’s in­her­ent sac­ri­fices (with­out ad­di­tional taxes). Govern­ment didn’t com­mu­ni­cate that its pro­grammes and poli­cies were in ad­vance­ment of the party’s wider philo­soph­i­cal view.

For ex­am­ple, aux­il­iaryschool fees pol­icy should’ve been ex­plained as the best method of de­liv­er­ing high­est-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to the most chil­dren AND jux­ta­posed against clearly es­tab­lished neg­a­tive out­comes (e.g., re­duced qual­ity and ex­tended de­lays in health, where 100 per cent state fund­ing was in­ad­e­quate to en­sure rea­son­able stan­dards). That’s SEVEN ex­am­ples of poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion. So, I guess the then in­for­ma­tion min­is­ter has been un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously con­signed to a po­lit­i­cal dust­bin?

What you say? Sand­in­my­brain Faulkiner is re­tained as spokesper­son for the op­po­si­tion leader? The PNP is go­ing into lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions with the same spokesper­son with the same abysmal com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills that the then Govern­ment en­tered the gen­eral elec­tion? Is this what Knowall Ar­shatt is de­pend­ing on to pre­dict a clean sweep?


IIThe ap­praisal re­port made the fol­low­ing find­ings re­gard­ing the party sec­re­tar­iat: I In­suf­fi­cient full-time or­gan­is­ers in the field. I Re­la­tion­ship be­tween and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of sec­re­tar­iat/re­gions weren’t al­ways clear, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing can­di­date se­lec­tion/dis­pute res­o­lu­tion. In­suf­fi­cient fo­cus on enu­mer­a­tion. Many MPs/coun­cil­lors didn’t at­tend monthly con­stituency EOJ meet­ings. Many scru­ti­neers didn’t ex­e­cute crit­i­cal task of ver­i­fy­ing elec­tors’ res­i­dence. I No sys­tem­atic fo­cus given to re­cruit­ment. I Com­mu­ni­ca­tion was ad hoc at best. A con­sis­tent, dis­ci­plined mes­sage tai­lored for spe­cific tar­get au­di­ences couldn’t be dis­cerned. Un­der ‘Fund­ing of the Party’, find­ings in­cluded: Lack of fund­ing why there weren’t enough or­gan­is­ers. Party ex­ec­u­tive ap­proved staff com­ple­ment, but ramp-up couldn’t be funded. This crip­pled the party’s abil­ity to im­ple­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. In­suf­fi­cient and un­re­li­able sources of re­sources for ad­di­tional staff to im­prove enu­mer­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The PNPYO and PNP Women’s Move­ment ex­pe­ri­enced a chronic short­age of funds to finance even ba­sic or­gan­is­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. That last ex­press find­ing re­gard­ing un­der­fund­ing of PNPYO/PNP Women’s Move­ment must be a typo, be­cause The Gleaner re­ported Knowall Ar­shatt as tak­ing a Trumpesque swipe at his re­cent chal­lenger for vice-pres­i­dent:

“The Gleaner un­der­stands that los­ing vi­cepres­i­den­tial con­tender Lisa Hanna will be given a crit­i­cal role in the up­com­ing lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions to prove her worth.

“... Arscott ... said it was his hope Hanna

IIII­would be able to show, this time around, that she could at­tract young peo­ple to the PNP.

“‘I ex­pect her to use this cam­paign to demon­strate what she can do po­lit­i­cally,’ Arscott pointed out, while not­ing he was dis­ap­pointed when Hanna, as youth min­is­ter, wasn’t able to mo­bilise vol­umes of young peo­ple to the PNP in the last gen­eral elec­tion.”

Oh, dear! Mr Ar­shatt, did you read the ap­praisal re­port? “This time around,” will the PNP pro­vide fund­ing to PNPYO/PNP Women’s Move­ment to al­low THEM to “mo­bilise vol­umes of young peo­ple to the PNP” un­der Lisa’s lead­er­ship? Or will it be more of the same (chronic un­der­fund­ing), ex­pos­ing a chronic PNP con­tempt for women and youth? On party dis­ci­pline, the com­mit­tee found: Party sanctions are rarely ap­plied de­spite in­stances of pre­ma­ture pub­lic out­bursts be­fore ap­pro­pri­ate, avail­able in­ter­nal chan­nels were ex­hausted. In­ter­nal dis­putes aren’t swiftly and de­ci­sively ad­dressed many times be­cause of the PNP lead­er­ship’s in­abil­ity to agree. There’s a sense of favouritism and in­con­sis­tency when party rules are ap­plied. For these rea­sons, the much-her­alded de­cency and loy­alty, which tra­di­tion­ally ac­com­pany PNP’s op­er­a­tions, have been eroded. THREE MONTHS later, there’ve been at least TWO re­cent “pre­ma­ture pub­lic out­bursts” of which Ar­shatt’s is the sec­ond. Pre­ma­ture ad­ju­di­ca­tion is com­monly caused by fear. What do you fear, Knowall? Space won’t per­mit de­tailed re­pro­duc­tion of the re­port’s cam­paign cri­tique, but among the faults iden­ti­fied were weak ad­ver­tise­ments; weak slo­gans; lead­ers’ me­dia in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity; lack of so­cial me­dia ‘brand­ing’; in­ef­fec­tive de­ploy­ment of re­sources; poor dis­burse­ment of funds as against con­stituency need; weak/in­ac­cu­rate in­tel­li­gence from the ground; and, most im­por­tant, non-par­tic­i­pa­tion in the de­bate.

The com­mit­tee rec­om­mended:

Pol­icy Re­view Com­mis­sion to en­gage in wide-rang­ing con­sul­ta­tions; reaf­firm the party’s core val­ues; and ... de­velop poli­cies that re­flect PNP phi­los­o­phy.

De­velop com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy to link achieve­ments/poli­cies to PNP core val­ues.

Re­visit sec­re­tar­iat’s struc­ture and state to meet new po­lit­i­cal or­gan­is­ing re­al­i­ties.

In­crease sup­port staff for gen­eral sec­re­tary (gen sec) to el­e­vate fo­cus on enu­mer­a­tion/re­cruit­ment. In­crease num­ber of or­gan­is­ers avail­able to gen sec for de­ploy­ment based on pri­or­ity ar­eas.

Full-time staff mem­ber as­signed with re­spon­si­bil­ity for sup­port­ing the Re­cruit­ment Com­mis­sion’s work. Re­cruit­ment/ enu­mer­a­tion as­signed to a

IIIIdeputy gen sec. More con­sis­tent em­pha­sis must be placed on enu­mer­a­tion, with monthly re­ports to the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee and re­ports at all NEC’s monthly con­stituency EOJ meet­ings’ at­ten­dance form­ing part of MPs’/coun­cil­lors’ as­sess­ment. Es­tab­lish a prop­erly staffed/re­sourced com­mu­ni­ca­tions unit headed by a suit­ably qual­i­fied full-time com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor. De­velop/im­ple­ment a rel­e­vant, ap­peal­ing and on­go­ing po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion/train­ing pro­gramme for ALL work­ers. Re­form the role of groups to im­prove work­ers’ morale/qual­ity and the flow of re­li­able in­for­ma­tion to the party from the ground and vice versa. Strongly rec­om­mended this be done forth­with and a pi­lot pro­gramme be de­vel­oped/im­ple­mented in two groups per di­vi­sion, in one con­stituency per re­gion over the next six months. The fu­ture of the party rests on this is­sue. New mem­bers’ ori­en­ta­tion pro­gramme to be de­vel­oped and stu­diously ap­plied. Cut-off time for can­di­date se­lec­tion should be the end of the third year af­ter elec­tion, giv­ing can­di­dates two years in the con­stituency. New can­di­dates to be given a work pro­gramme, men­tor­ship and an ex­ec­u­tive as­signee. All as­pi­rants are to be ap­proved by the party’s In­tegrity Com­mis­sion be­fore fac­ing the del­e­gates. De­velop a pro­to­col, and pro­vide guid­ance, on how elected per­sons should work to­gether within a con­stituency to max­imise qual­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tion and har­mony. Knowall, how many of these rec­om­men­da­tions (es­pe­cially groups’ re­form) have been im­ple­mented? Upon WHAT do you base your lo­cal govern­ment elec­tion pre­dic­tion?

Peace and love.

IIIIIIIIIP.S. Last week, I de­pended on no­to­ri­ous PhD, Dr Google, for the mean­ing of ‘mapipi’, a word miss­ing from my ex­ten­sive Eastern Caribbean vo­cab­u­lary. I was VERY un­com­fort­able with his def­i­ni­tion that seemed out of sync. So, I’m eter­nally grate­ful to a liv­ing Caribbean leg­end (asked for anonymity) who took the time to in­form me ‘mapipi’ meant ‘scorpion’. San­dra’s metaphor in­volved a scorpion ‘park up al­ready’ in­side your shoe wait­ing for you to stick your foot in care­lessly, so it can sting you.

Thanks a mil­lion.


PNP Pres­i­dent Por­tia Simp­son Miller and Noel Arscott.

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