Comrades attending this weekend’s People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) 84th annual conference are expected to focus more on a new way forward, than competition for top positions which has dogged the institution over the past few years.
PNP leader, Mark Golding, whose low nationwide approval has been a serious indictment for those who voted him in to succeeded former leader Dr Peter Phillips, in November 2020, sounded the trumpet at his own constituency meeting in Arnett Gardens Sunday night, which attracted a large crowd, as he feverishly pointed to the need to attract as many people as possible.
The meeting, which had St Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology Camillo Michael Gonsalves as guest speaker, was chaired by PNP General Secretary Dayton Campbell. Other speakers included Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives Phillip Paulwell; spokesman on education, Damion Crawford; deputy chairman, Senator Floyd Morris; and former senator, Andre Haughton.
Party Chairman Dr Angela Brown Burke recalled the last agenda for the party – the Progressive Agenda in 2011 – was seen as “a modern expression of the core ideals of the party’s time honoured philosophy of democracy, equality, freedom and justice”, but which eventually failed to deliver.
She welcomed Golding’s decision to seek to rejuvenate the party with a new agenda, and to encourage more comrades to sell the ideas to supporters, while encouraging others who had not voted before to do so in an expected local government election early in 2023, which could be followed by a general election.
“We need a man like Mark Golding to lead this country of ours, because the truth is that we look around and we see that the government deh pon autopilot. Security in shambles, education drop a ground and a whole heap a things drop a ground,” said Brown.
“We are going to have every single delegate at conference with their voice being heard, making sure that you are part of this message that when we leave here we are going to carry forward,” she told the crowd.
She pointed out that the current tours by Golding had allowed people to see him, “for whom he really is”.
“He has been on the road. He has been meeting with people. He has been talking with them. It is an open door and whomsoever will, may come in,” she noted.
Golding, in turn, pointed out that attracting the additional voters needed to win the local government election, the party, “must have a clear vision of development that is relevant to them”.
“Conference continues to fulfil a critically important role in the continuing education of physicians, technicians, nurses, and other health-care providers,,” he told crowd. “It brings truth and loyalty to our democratic socialist traditions, and I want to thank Professor Tony Bogues, who have led the charge with a team doing that work for over a year.
“His report came to the NEC of the party at the two-day NEC meeting at The UWI in July, and was met with a great deal of enthusiasm and gratitude and relief, because we were so happy to hear the articulation of our philosophy in 21st-century terms, in a way that we can all buy into.
“Conference is coming up, and we will take it to the delegates and we will discuss and we will refine it and, in my humble explanation and my fervent hope, we will adopt that document, and it will become our charter, our philosophical charter for the next few years to come, and will guide the principles and guide the programmes and the policies of the PNP, to bring a better life to the Jamaican people, especially the masses of the people.”
“The next PNP Government must have a progressive policy on all the fundamental issues facing the Jamaican people. We must have a progressive policy on education, because education is the antidote to poverty. It is the pathway out of poverty. We have an education system which is not delivering for the people. The statistics that have been shown in recent reports emphasise that too many of our children are not getting what they need to get out of the education system.
“The PNP, when it comes to office, will have to set that right.We will start by focusing on the “likkle yout dem”, early childhood development, nutrition and the right inputs, so that, by the time dem finish primary school, everyone of them can read and write and are ready for secondary school and high school and can continue on a path forward.
“We look at things and we see the need for more investment in housing…The NHT has lost its way. It is a great institution of social engineering, the brain child of Michael “Joshua”Manley and one of his legacies to this country. When we look at the NHT we see why it is not delivering housing for the masses that the people need,” he said.
He stated that this is not a policy that a progressive Government can accept, and his party would not accept it.
“We want to see a policy where everybody who has a house that is leaking and walls that are sagging and the bathroom no stay right, the Government must help them to uplift themselves and live in dignity. The next PNP Government will be delivering that to the people,” Golding promised.
“We are improving, we are uniting and getting stronger every day, but we are still behind and we can’t take it for granted Comrades. But, at least our trajectory is in the right direction. We are moving up and they are moving down, and they are afraid. But, we are but we are confident. We know that the people of Jamaica will turn to us and buy our message of hope for them, because our heart is the right place,” he said.