The Beleaguered JLP and a Farcical 67th Annual Conference
Sunday’s scaled-down public session at the JLP annual conference will be the first since the party suffered electoral defeats in both the General Election in December and the Local Government Elections in March 2011. However, the party says it is anticipating vibrant and vigorous sessions. The conference will be held under the theme, “Vision, Focus, Build, and Connect”. I would like to use my blog to critically discuss two statements that came out of the beleaguered labour party on the eve of its national conference.
First, a statement made by JLP Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton last Thursday where he echoed former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s comments ‘about the behaviour of politicians driving away bright minds from politics in Jamaica’. Speaking at a forum hosted by Generation 2000 (G2K) and its University of Technology chapter Dr Tufton hinted that the party was on a constant recruitment drive to attract what he regarded as Bright Minds to the Party. In his speech he also lambasted both political parties’ politicians for creating a credibility gap between their prospective followers and political Parties in Jamaica.
On the surface it is a reasonable comment to make one that is “populist” and will no doubt cast him as an honest broker an image that he normally portrays before the media. In my Opinion politicians need to begin to close the credibility gap within their organisation that they lead, way before they embark on a recruitment drive. In a blog posted just after the JLP had lost the general election I made a clarion call for a root and branch Reform of the Jamaica Labour Party. I had at that time hammered out 10 critical questions for the party to consider in its review of action for the party if they were to make any meaningful progress as an alternative to government.
Those questions are:
(1)What has caused the Party’s core to shift from its base?
(2) Is the method of selecting candidates and the monitoring of their conduct working?
(3)Why is the JLP the “ugly Betty “of Jamaican Politics and what can be done to improve its image and likability?
(4)What does the Party need to do to attract and retain new supporters and membership?
(5)Is the Party’s Ideology and core message at odds with the current politic and domestic climate?
(6)Is the JLP centralised way of structuring its organisation working?
(7) Is the current leadership adequately trained and motivated sufficiently to lead the changes that the organisation needs?
(8) Are the JLP delegates and Party functionaries sufficiently trained and motivated to attract new supporters?
(9) Is the party’s candidates and leaders selected fairly by their local delegates and are they representative of the general population?
(10) Is the Party serious about tackling corruption and has the determination to uproot corrupt official from its leadership and distance itself from criminal activity and garrison politics?
Question seven speaks directly to Mr Tufton: he is the Deputy Leader in charge of Area4- he did poorly in the Local and General election as a matter of fact on top of losing all the parish councils in Area 4 during the last Local Government Election to the PNP. In addition at the last General Election in 2011 he performed disastrously losing his own seat to the PNP’s Hugh Buchannan. Organisational Management and more specifically political progress are about results and taking responsibility for failures within organisations. But Jamaican has a flawed understanding of organisation behaviour built on a false misnomer of likability over performance credibility and effectiveness within organisations.
I know this will rile up his supporters as he has cross-party appeal in Jamaica. Politics is not a beauty contest it is about effective communication of a party’s core message and getting people to buy into that narrative and cashing in on it at an election by demonstrating “win ability” at the polls. If you can’t win your own seat as a leader what credibility or moral mandate do you have to convince your aspiring candidates to? A good academic credential is an asset but political savvy is about your own track record of good leadership demonstrated by effective results. No wonder the JLP is the first one term government in the history of modern Jamaica -as its decision making process is flawed and needs an urgent review audit.
The second issue that I would like to address is the fact that Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) member Everald Warmington had filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking an injunction to bar the election of three front runners for the posts of deputy leader on Sunday. On Saturday the news came in that Mr Everald Warmington has withdrawn the injunction application against the election of three deputy leaders for the party. It is understood that one of the issues raised by Warmington is the failure of the branch network to meet and send in minutes of their meetings to the party’s headquarters on a timely basis.
Evrald Warmington seems to represent all that is symptomatic of the JLP as a dysfunctional organisation. While the party in its pre-conference nuances tried to present themselves as a cohesive unit on the eve of the conference he took out an injunction bring three aspiring deputy leaders who did not follow the party’s constitutional internal processes. You can’t help but to give him some kudus by bringing to light that its business as usual whereby the party functionaries at the grass roots are often by passed in order for the big wigs in the party to further their personal political ambitions. Totally oblivious to the fact that the JLP is a democratic organisation and that its delegates and the selection committee should be at the core of its decision making process. As it stands now in my opinion the party is being led by a set of Plutocrats who have their heads up their posteriors.
To conclude we expect it to be business as usual as it regards to infighting in the JLP. The JLP organisation is like an old computer used by the Russian cosmonauts during the latter stage of the cold war in Russia -it is useless and needs radical reform. On the back of two election losses it cuts a pathetic figure, it’s a limp organisation masquerading as a genuine political party. The JLP has certainly become “the ugly Betty of Jamaican politics”. When the delegated and supporters arrive in Kingston today for the Sunday public session of the JLP 67th National Conference- if they are discursive they will be pondering: how did such a progressive party funded by Sir Alexander Bustamante descend into such a farce of an organisation?
Donovan Reynolds is a Blogger and Independent Writer. He is a British based Social Worker and Human rights Activist. He has an interest in Politics, Culture, Human Rights and International Development issues. Readers of this blog may add their comments or critique at the space provided on this blog .Or alternatively they may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org/ or dannygerm@twitter