Mission: Comrade unity


Mission: Comrade unity

A SWOT analysis of the two who wish PNP leadership


Sunday, October 25, 2020

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The People's National Party (PNP) is once again in the process of electing a new leader. This has come within the context of Dr Peter Phillips indicating that he is resigning as president after the horrific defeat in the September 3 national election. Like all decent leaders, Dr Peter Phillips has taken responsibility for the defeat.

A clear vacancy exists, and this warrants a contest for the top job of the 82-year-old organisation. Many individuals have aspirations and ambitions of becoming the leader of the PNP. However, these ambitions and aspirations must be executed with a great deal of realism. Former prime minister and legendary leader of the PNP P J Patterson once advised me that one must not enter into a contest without counting the possible votes. Those who have leadership ambition and aspiration must take this sage advice seriously.

Thus far, Mark Golding, Member of Parliament for St Andrew Southern, and Lisa Hanna, Member of Parliament for St Ann South Eastern, are the two Comrades who have signalled their intention to run. Based on these two expressions of interest, I have decided to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of them with whom I am knowledgeable.

I regard both Mark Golding and Lisa Hanna as my friends. I first learnt of Golding because of his father, Sir John, who was a lead advocate and defender of individuals with disabilities at a time when issues about members of this marginalised community were not fashionable. But I first met the younger Golding in 2005, when I was a member of 'Campaign for Prosperity', the campaign team of Dr Omar Davies in the PNP presidential race when Comrade P J Patterson decided to quit active politics. We have remained friends since then.

On the other hand, Hanna and I go back to 1994, when she came to The University of the West Indies (UWI) as a student. I was doing my second year at the prestigious Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and she joined the institute to pursue her degree. I was seen as a novelty by many of my companions at CARIMAC and they did a lot of features on me. Hanna was one of those students, and thereafter she and other students could be seen on Taylor Hall, visiting me, Matthew “Knife” Harvey, Tricia Cameron, Emily Crooks, and others. She was a Taylorite in her own right, but she never resided on hall.

In 1996 I was Hanna's campaign manager when she ran as external chairperson for The UWI Guild of Students, and she won handsomely. I then became special advisor to the Guild of Students under the venerable leadership of Basil Waite. When Hanna became a member of the PNP in 2006, she used both Basil and I as referees.

I have watched both Golding and Hanna grow in the PNP. I believe I am therefore in a position to honestly analyse their progress in this SWOT analysis.

Golding's strengths

Mark Golding is a financially independent individual who comes to the table as one who has worked hard and acquired honest wealth through then financial giant Dehring, Bunting and Golding (DB&G). He is an attorney-at-law who specialises in financial and tax law. He is an exceptionally brilliant man; in fact, one of the most brilliant minds to be recruited in the PNP within the past 20 years.

Married to a beautiful black Jamaican woman for over 20 years, Golding demonstrates his intrinsic value of family life and stability as an individual. His integrity can stand up to scrutiny any time and he has never been fingered in any perception of corruption in Jamaica.

Golding is an exceptional legislator. I have had the privilege to watch him in the Senate whilst I was president for that august institution, and he is one of the finest minds that I have seen. A J Nicholson, K D Knight, Lambert Brown, Nigel Clarke, and Mark Golding were among the most diligent and prepared in the Senate when I was president.

Golding is a quintessential debater, who, when on his feet, you dare not trespass. I have seen him take on his opponents and dismiss them in the most erudite way.

Hanna's strengths

Lisa Hanna is also a financially independent individual who has acquired wealth through honest and legitimate means. She won the Miss World crown in 1993 and has married one of the wealthiest men in Jamaica, Richard Lake. She is a legitimate partner in the various businesses operated by him.

It is tautologous to say that she is beautiful. At age 45, she is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful women in the world and could re-enter Miss World and give the younger candidates a run for their money.

Hanna has strong presence wherever she goes. She is easy on the eyes and, whenever she opens her mouth, you are not disappointed — both beauty and brains.

One could describe her as a warrior for whatsoever she believes, and is the kind of soldier that you would want to have when you are going to war, as she is not likely to quit and run away, or leave you on the battlefield.

Golding's weaknesses

He has been in the politics primarily to support his colleague and long-standing friend, Peter Bunting, who sustained a self-inflicted wound when he challenged Dr Peter Phillips in the internal elections of 2019. This contributed to his demise in the 2020 national election, thus resulting in Golding emerging as one of the leading candidates for the top job of the noble movement. Golding is seen as a 'proxy' for Bunting, and Comrades who would want to support him need to get the assurance that he can function independently. This will be necessary if he is to capture at least 60 per cent of the delegate votes to command the kind of support and respect that is needed to commence the process of uniting the noble movement.

The deep internal divisions in the PNP are strongly attributed to the challenge of Phillips by Bunting in 2019. Golding was the chairman of Bunting's campaign and is seen by some as a contributor to the divisions in the organisation.

He is not seen as a smart dresser and tends to carry himself in a very casual manner. He needs to get and carry a clean shave and modernise his wardrobe.

Hanna's weaknesses

She has an extremely strong personality and often wants to get her point to predominate. She has to work on this, because in a political organisation such as the PNP different views must contend, but it is the organisational imperative and national interest that must be preserved.

Hanna has been wounded by her name being called in allegations of corruption that has taken place in her constituency. There is no evidence of her being involved in any act of corruption, but the mere fact that her name has been called is a 'red flag'.

She inherited one of the strongest PNP constituencies in the island; one that the party has held consistently from 1944, save and except for that uncontested election of 1983. For the margins of this constituency to have fallen significantly to 31 votes in 2020 is a matter for which she has to be accountable. Deep divisions prevail in the constituency with her that need to be remedied before the PNP loses this seat. If this should happen, the 'ghosts' of Comrades Ivan Lloyd and Seymour Mullings would ride her for the rest of her life.

Golding's opportunities

This election presents an opportunity for Golding to step out of the 'shadows' of Peter Bunting and be his own man. He has it in him, but because he was in politics to support his 'bona fide brethren' he has been operating in the back room. Golding now needs to exert himself and show his true leadership skills, which he has demonstrated in the Senate and as the PNP's bastion of St Andrew Southern. And, if Comrade Peter Bunting is a true friend, he needs to “step back and standby” to allow him to demonstrate his true mettle in the PNP.

Golding can unite the PNP, and to do this he will need to bring all the groupings under the big tent. In so doing, it will be critical for him to incorporate Hanna into the mainstream of the PNP should he become the president on November 7.

Hanna's opportunities

There are some who underestimate the intellectual capacity of Lisa Hanna. This is because people have stigmatised individuals who are beauty queens over the years. But she has demonstrated her brilliance in performances in two national debates. This leadership challenge presents an opportunity for her to demonstrate this brilliance that she has suppressed in the Parliament over the past couple of years.

There are some who are of the view that Hanna will be manipulated by her husband to get business opportunities, but she now has the opportunity to demonstrate that she is in it for the people of Jamaica, and that the PNP is the vehicle that she has chosen to drive development for the people — not for her husband.

An opportunity exists for Lisa Hanna to demonstrate that she has the capacity to unite the PNP, which is the pre-eminent organisational imperative at the moment. It would do a world of good if she sends a signal that she would include Mark Golding in her leadership team if she should become the president of the PNP on November 7.

Hanna has over 750,000 individuals on her Instagram page. An opportunity exists for her to use this tremendous fan club to convert the majority of them into voters for the PNP.

Golding's threats

The biggest threat for Golding is how to unite the PNP. He has to carefully analyse all the different tendencies in the movement at this time and make a genuine effort to pull all of them together. If he fails to do this, then he will miss a grand opportunity. The 'Riser' and the 'One PNP' camps must cease to exist so that the PNP organisation can flourish. If he runs a 'Rise-centric' campaign, then we can brace ourselves for continued sojourn through the wilderness.

Hanna's threats

She has a tendency to be annoyed with those who do not support her viewpoint. In a multi-class alliance such as the PNP there are going to be divergent views and the leader must be able to respect those views. It cannot be that when you disagree you move to isolate. This is a clear and present danger for Lisa and she must move to correct this trait.

The situation with the PNP councillors in her constituency is a clear and present danger. It has contributed to a declension of the PNP support in the constituency, so she has to rebuild the constituency organisation and reclaim these votes in this PNP bastion before it is too late.

As seen from the arguments presented, anchored in personal experiences with both of them over a 20-year period, there are strengths and weaknesses in these two dedicated Comrades. I am in the process of making up my mind as to which of them I will give my vote. This will be primarily predicated on who I believe is best able to unite the PNP at this time. Unity is the central factor and major priority for the movement at this moment, and once we are united we will be able to rebuild the organisation and present ourselves as a viable alternative to the current shambolic Government.

I will declare who will get my vote soon.

Floyd Morris, PhD, is a senator. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or morrisfloyd@gmail.com.

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