Peter’s time to ex­hale

Phillips seek­ing to ex­cite Com­rades at pub­lic ses­sion of party’s an­nual con­fer­ence to­day

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Sun­day Gleaner Writer Erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

WHEN PETER David Phillips steps to the podium to­day to ad­dress his Com­rades, and the nation, Ja­maica’s con­tin­u­ing high mur­der rate is ex­pected to fea­ture promi­nently in his pre­sen­ta­tion.

No longer un­der the shadow of the charis­matic Por­tia Simp­son Miller, whom he re­placed as pres­i­dent of the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP), Phillips is ex­pected to fo­cus on na­tional se­cu­rity in a nation with a seem­ingly un­end­ing blood flow, which has con­tin­ued across po­lit­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Phillips, whose ad­dress will close the pub­lic ses­sion of the party’s 79th an­nual con­fer­ence which is be­ing held un­der the theme, ‘Peo­ple’s in­ter­est, our Pur­pose, our Pas­sion’, is be­ing chal­lenged to make Com­rades be­lieve again, cause the nation to lis­ten again, and the elec­tors to vote PNP again.

“The con­fer­ence will be his­toric in sev­eral ways. It will be Peter’s first con­fer­ence truly at the helm of the PNP, it will also be Ju­lian Robinson’s first as gen­eral sec­re­tary, and it will be my last as chair­man after 25 years,” Robert Pick­ers­gill told The Sun­day Gleaner late last week.

Pick­ers­gill will not be seek­ing re­elec­tion for the po­si­tion he took over un­der the lead­er­ship of the long-re­tired P.J. Pat­ter­son, and mem­bers of par­lia­ment Fitz Jack­son and An­thony Hyl­ton are ex­pected to square off for the post at the first meet­ing of the party’s Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil after the an­nual con­fer­ence.

In the lead-up to to­day’s pub­lic ses­sion, Robinson, the rel­a­tively new gen­eral sec­re­tary, told our news team that the lead­er­ship team has al­ready started to do things that have been on the ta­ble for sev­eral years.

“That’s how you get things done. You do them,” said Robinson.

IM­PLE­MENTED MEA­SURES

He said some of the mea­sures al­ready im­ple­mented in­clude the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of agreed rec­om­men­da­tions for changes to the party’s con­sti­tu­tion and the for­mal­i­sa­tion of the party’s re­quire­ment for mem­bers of par­lia­ment.

The party has also in­cluded changes

such as the au­dit­ing of con­stituen­cies with more than 50 groups once ev­ery three years, to re­move groups in name only.

In ad­di­tion, the PNP has for­malised a nom­i­na­tion pe­riod for of­fi­cers to be a min­i­mum of five work­ing days and a max­i­mum of seven days.

CHOOS­ING IS­SUES TO COVER

Ac­cord­ing to Robinson, Phillips’ speech, which he has not seen, is ex­pected to be big on pol­icy is­sues, with a num­ber of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional is­sues to be ad­dressed.

But com­ing out of yes­ter­day’s pri­vate ses­sion of the con­fer­ence, one se­nior Com­rade told our news team that the party’s pres­i­dent may have to leave in­ter­na­tional is­sues alone as lo­cal is­sues are too many.

“He may want to speak a bit about Ja­maicans af­fected by the hur­ri­cane in the East­ern Caribbean, Texas and Florida, but hon­estly, look how many things are go­ing on in Ja­maica.

“The bread and but­ter of Ja­maica’s most vul­ner­a­ble is at stake. The morgue busi­ness must be the most prof­itable

busi­ness in Ja­maica. Ja­maica rot­ten, and get­ting rot­tener, so par­son should chris­ten him pick­ney first,” said the Com­rade.

He added that Phillips, who be­came PNP pres­i­dent just un­der six months ago, will be mind­ful of the con­tin­ued waste of scarce re­sources by state agen­cies, Ja­maica’s con­tin­ued in­debt­ed­ness, and the pro­ces­sion of the best and bright­est of Ja­maica flee­ing in record num­bers over­seas.

LIONEL ROOK­WOOD/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

PNP Chair­man Robert Pick­er­sill (left) and the party’s Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Ju­lian Robinson at a me­dia brief­ing fol­l­low­ing Fri­day’s pri­vate ses­sion of the party’s 79th an­nual con­fer­ence.

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