No one seems to be giving the PNP much of a fighting chance of forming the next government. I wonder at that and for varying reasons, topmost of which is the question of whether the party is using its best resources to achieve this goal.
Well, this morning I woke up thinking that any win of the PNP will figure largely and prominently around Dr. Dayton Campbell, the man who always seems to have a plan and who seems ever willing to work with a wounded leopard with a sore paw. That the PNP surely is, given all the twists and turns, rifts and burns it has endured over the last few years.
The testing of his mettle has been made evident by his winning back to back in a hostile constituency seat, formidably standing up to fire during and after his (in my estimation), ill advised decision to oppose the leader of the party by being the strong man behind the Comrade Leader’s challenger, yet garnering for himself what seems like a doting and almost cult like following in the wake of it. Yes, he is a literal firebrand, yet a Christian and outspoken advocate of the people, an intelligent, honest and hardworking man of integrity.
After his defeat in the party’s leadership challenge at the hands of a machinery that at the last and most crucial moment found teeth and got its cogs into gear, he resigned his Shadow Cabinet post, in humility and in the agony of defeat (which was the right thing to do) and humbly waited. It was left to the victor Dr. Peter Phillips to determine where the spoils of victory should go and if and how much he would value the goodly Doc’s worth to the party, based on work and dedication to that date, despite the affront to his bruised ego and rename him to his new Shadow Cabinet, especially bearing in mind Campbell’s positivity and potency as opposition spokesman on health and relative matters. Up to that point, the Doc was the party’s go to guy in opposition.
Sadly, it was not to be and the Doc ended up doing the very thing he had shortly before stated he would despise, which was being on the very back seat of the Opposition. He had, in trying times after his defeat, publicly stated that he would rather be on the “back seat of government than in the front seat of an Opposition.” Hooray for the Doc. That was some show of humility and basically how real patriots see the world. That translated to, ‘I don’t have to have a seat, but Lord, please let my party win, even if I have to give way to another and take a back seat while I support them from the toilets.’ In other words, I don’t want my party to be in Opposition, even if I lead that Opposition because we would still be out in the wilds.’ That is exactly how someone who wants good for his country should feel and which says , ‘I am broken, but WE are not defeated.’
He went unnamed and excluded from the new Shadow entity, and the people swore, They bewailed and cried and verbally rebelled at his exclusion. They would not be appeased. The very same people whose votes will basically decide who will form the next government.
So the ‘hallowed and holy heights of 89 Old Hope Road took notice. They pondered, and the leader stroked his chin as he wondered; How can I use this warrior of a man and harness all that force and fortitude, (which by the way is the base from which heroes rise and/or are made) without creating confusion, chaos and lack of confidence in my capacity to lead a machine undergoing healing . How can I get the best of both worlds without throwing the party into further turmoil?
So, the PNP under its ‘Zeus,’ came up with the brilliant idea to create an independent “Special Projects” post that showed their confidence in the Doc’s abilities and letting him have a go at what he does best, planning and brainstorming and effectively executing ….and the people cheered at his recent reappointment. This is arguably a much more demanding post than any previous Shadow position existing.
So ‘Zeus’ smiled to see how he had struck a triple A by appeasing the people, avoiding the affront of his colleagues and also tapping into a resourcefulness and powerful intellect that is the Doc.
But how far will this carry and translate to a star in the winning column on Election Day?
At present there is a high profile public relations team meeting with Diaspora bigs all over New York City, which is a good thing and very needed. But a notable exception is the goodly Doc, who the people of the Diaspora have heard so much of and have been living in anticipation of seeing and hearing live and direct. There is so much ado about who he is that they are simply keening to see him in living colour and experience his verbal virtuosity first hand.
Just a few words in the Doc’s usual manner will make believers of them and the PNP does need the full support of the Diaspora to effect a win. No matter how much we may discount it verbally, our heads and hearts know the truth of it. Diaspora members may not have a vote on Election Day but the scores of people influenced by their dollars sent home and their overall input and support can make miles in terms of where wavering fingers may fall come the big day.
No disrespect intended to Comrade Leader Dr. Peter Phillips’ genius or his abilities, but when you see a golden bit in a horse’s mouth, you take it out and spend it before it is swallowed. It may never be regurgitated. I say make use of the Doc by including him on these trips wherever possible. Yes, he has his critical clinical duties apart from his political and personal ones, but every running machine needs oiling and he could prove to be the source of that emollient that could mix with water, which is the sea of voters, and make seemingly impossible situations somehow not so formidable mountains to climb.
As I said of former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in the year leading up to the last General Elections, give the horse its head. Let her go, and let her do what she does best, which is mix up with, love up and hug up her people anywhere and anytime, just like the PNP’s beloved icon Michael Manley did before her. He also maximised the use of her WOW appeal in addition to his charisma. He was not daunted by the fact that she seemed even more popular than he was, or at the least just as popular. He rode on the popularity crest that she provided.
Had she been allowed to do as she had a heart to do in 2015, we more than likely would all be singing a different song today. The party did not make the most of their greatest asset and they are suffering because of their failure to do so. Yes, she has always provided that ‘it’ factor that the party needed, even in retirement. Their failure to do so cost the country big time and put in place an almost tyrannical and corrupt regime which listens not at all to the voices and cries of the electorate it serves, or ought to be serving.
The people desperately need a change, but one they can truly identify with. In other words they need the son of a “prison bud and a household helper” who rose up despite the odds and with integrity, who seems poised to one day take on a major leadership role in our beloved country. They need the ‘it’ factor and the WOW appeal that lucky Miss Lucky’s son Dayton comes equipped with.
If the PNP is to win the next round, the confidence of the people has to be of great consequence and consideration. They clearly have confidence in Dr. Dayton Campbell. They will likely go where he points them.
The new post and duties carved out for Dr. Campbell by the leader and executive of the People’s National Party clearly show how much they think of his abilities and of their confidence in those abilities. The PNP should show off what they have to the world, instead of allowing their prized package/possession to be totally obscured and in a corner on a shelf somewhere. A prized object that does not see the light of day will never get the chance to shine and therefore will bring little or no glory to its holder.
Comrade Leader Phillips was well received worldwide as a vital Finance Minister and accompaniment on travels to then Prime Minister Simpson Miller, who as a leader was never obscured by him. He also was undoubtedly well received, especially in diplomatic and finance communities regardless.
Will he also now see the virtues of having a people champion beside him to make it a total package and not be daunted by his presence at his side?
Will the ‘virtuoso’ of a Dayton Campbell find favour in his eyes, or will he cheat himself of at least a fighting chance to go on record as the Leader of Jamaica’s next government?
The figures and polls don’t seem to be very much in favour of that eventuality at the moment but then, the same could have been said of present Prime Minister Holness’ chances approaching the last General Elections, which resulted in the shock that was felt around the globe. I bet he was shell shocked in his own skin.
Dr Phillips needs every bit of seasoning possible to present a tasty dish to the hungry but choosy public and at present it seems that Dr Campbell could be the very salt in the meat, that is to served with the many grains of rice on the plate, the ‘it’ factor.
Will the salt be utilised to accentuate the offering, or will the meal be served as bland as it can be, while the salt stays on the shelf for future use, and the people puke on the serving of it?
What kind of chef will Dr Phillips prove to be?
Only time will tell.
By Ava Ramdeen – a former staff writer and subeditor of The Daily Gleaner ,The Jamaica Daily News, and Caribbean Life News in New York, as well as Managing Editor of the Caribbean Media Network 1995. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected]
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