PNP disunity saddens former MP Spencer

Former Senator and Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern Kern Spencer is saddened by the lack of unity in the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) of which he remains a member.

Spencer, 46, who has served as MP for the constituency from 2007 to 2011 when he defeated the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Corris Samuels by polling 9,047 votes to his opponent’s 6,909, is planning to make a return to representational politics, but the continued in-fighting makes him sick of it.

“I don’t like the disunity. I come from the school and training of a Danny Buck (former MP and Cabinet Minister Donald Buchanan) and a Roger Clarke (late MP and Cabinet minister), and more so Danny Buck who was so politically astute.

“We were taught to do things with a level of discipline, decency and righteousness. Some of the things I see happening now could never happen under PJ Patterson (retired PNP president and prime minister). Even if you had your beliefs and you never liked something, there was always the NEC (National Executive Council) floor for people to come and vigorously make their points.

“Some of the things I see happening in the public space should not be happening. I don’t like the bickering, I don’t like the disunity, because at the end of the day are you going to fight and fight and fight? When will it stop? The party leader presently has a big challenge on his hand. He is caught between a rock and a hard place because there are persons who believe that they can do a better job, or the party is not going in the right direction.

“As a party leader, Danny Buck will say, when you are in trouble and people are coming at you, you have to strenghthen the soldiers around you, so while strengtening the team around him to protect himself, it might seem as if he is excluding other persons who didn’t support him. He has to strike that right balance,” stated businessman Spencer, a former PNP Youth Organisation general secretary and president.

Going back to when Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller vied for leadership of the PNP in 1992, Spencer said that soon after that internal election had been decided, the PNP settled down, though some people did not get the choice that they sought.

“When PJ and Portia ran off, PJ had that problem, but some of the persons who opposed PJ, he, over time, elevated them. Even the Pearts — Michael and Deanie — supported Portia, and over time they became elements of PJ’s Administration. Danny Buck again was one of the advocates on the platform against PJ, but PJ recognised that there was worth in Danny Buck, notwithstanding the fact that he may have his own personal choices, but when it came down to on-the-ground organisation and commitment to the party, you couldn’t leave out Danny Buck.”

The businessman, who lives in Santa Cruz, suggested that Mark Golding, the present PNP president, will have to find a way to strike a needed balance, while protecting himself politically, and bringing other people of worth to the forefront.

“With the advent of new media and social media everybody is chatting, we have too many people who are talking. They talk a good talk, but they don’t want to do the work on the ground — canvassing, house-to-house, listening to the people and hearing their problems, and trying to help them as best as they can. The people are no fools. Gone are the days when a man could go on the platform like Joshua (former Prime Minister and PNP President Michael Manley) with a rod and speak to the masses and they drop and tremble. The people know when you are genuine, they know when you say things to get their votes. Mark is going to have to find a team willing to go on the ground, not to be pop stars, but who have a connection with people.

“Some of those seats that the PNP lost, we should never have lost them. I don’t buy this argument that there was a swing because of (Prime Minister) Andrew (Holness), and don’t get me wrong, Andrew is my good friend. Andrew had a buzz at the time and they got hold of how the social media thing worked.

“You cannot discredit that some of the seats that the JLP won was because of Andrew. However, there were some PNP-dominated seats in which if the MPs were working, if they were connecting with their people, they shouldn’t have lost those seats. It was just because of, over time, some of the MPs have become above the people. It has become too stressful for them to go to the dead yards, to go to the funerals, visit Miss Jane when she is sick and some of them wind up their windows under AC and drive past the people. So over time, they lost it and the people waited for the time to retaliate. The people are sick and tired of the fighting.

“I remember when Danny Buck won his last election by around 100 votes. I was his constituency secretary and campaign manager, and I was also PNPYO president and I wanted to go to Parade at a meeting and Danny Buck said, ‘so Spencer, you waa go town go parade pon platform fi media see you pon TV and leave the seat and not sure we going win. Well mek up your mind you nuh Spencer if you want the razzle dazzle or you want to go down in history as a winning campaign manager. If I were you I would stay on the ground with the people.’ We never got to go to Kingston.

“A lot of people make politics look hard but it’s not really hard. It’s really about genuinely loving and caring for people and helping them. It takes a lot of time but if you genuinely love them, they will know. The PNP supporters are out there and the party can win if we get in the right set of candidates and have them working now,” Spencer said.

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