Conference more than a words test — Canute Thompson

SENIOR lecturer and head of Caribbean Centre for Educational Planning at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Professor Canute Thompson, says Sunday’s public session of the People’s National Party’s 85th Annual Conference at the National Arena in Kingston was more than a “words test”.

Thompson, a former chairman of the PNP’s Election Review Committee, in giving high marks to the conference speakers, said “There was strength to the conference in that it was not just a words test where you just make utterances for the sake of utterances. There was strong critique of the Government’s performance and there was a raft of proposed solutions in relation to various areas of the country’s development.

“In terms of the communication and the quality of the presentations by the speakers, I thought that each did well in relation to their respective portfolios. Their statements were supported, for the most part, by data — in the case of Peter Bunting, for example. In the case of the General Secretary [Dr Dayton Campbell], he highlighted some important contrasts in his analysis of the Jamaican society and the experience of the people,” Thompson told the Jamaica Observer following the conference.

In referencing the remarks of president of the PNP’s youth arm — People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) — Senator Gabriela Morris, Thompson said she was effective.

“Senator Morris raised some important issues in relation to the quality of life in the area of educational opportunity, And, to her credit, I think she used the metaphor of the lock and key quite effectively — which was a response, I believe, to the criticism in relation to the skit a couple days ago,” he said.

Party leader Mark Golding has come under fire for his participation in a slavery skit mounted during the PNP’s St Andrew Southern constituency conference last Sunday. The skit saw a male PNP supporter holding a padlocked chain around his neck and telling the party’s general secretary that he was being held in bondage by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Campbell, prancing back and forth on the stage, then announced that Golding had the key to release the man out of bondage. Golding then appeared on stage with a key and opened the padlock, after which he and the chained man unwrapped the chain and held it aloft.

Commenting on Golding’s presentation, Thompson said, “I think he did a good job in highlighting some specific areas of the country’s lost potential or under-realised potential in the areas of education, renewable energy, and crime; and I thought there was concreteness and specificity to many of his proposed policy ideas and directions”.

The conference is among the events to galvanise supporters ahead of the upcoming local government elections, due by February 2024.