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PNPYO Demands Party Renewal - Says Leaders Ignored Youth’s Cry For Reform


Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Image caption: File PNPYO President Krystal Tomlinson, seen here dancing with party President Dr Peter Phillips on March 25, 2020, had led a mini rebellion in April 2019 for an overhaul of the PNP ahead of a general election. Tomlinson and party elders appeared to have made peace, but the PNP was swept aside 48-15 in last Thursday’s general election. Disaffection with youth voters has been cited as one of its shortcomings.

The People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) has reportedly been flooded with requests from young people eager to join following the party’s massive defeat in the September 3 general election.

YO General Secretary Dexroy Martin said that many new recruits were shocked by the result and were now determined to help rebuild the party and lift its flagging profile in their constituencies.

“Actually, things are looking good for us. People are not running away, people are coming to say they want to help,” he told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

Martin said that several members were upset by last Thursday’s loss and are pressing for their calls for renewal to be heard by the party’s hierarchy.

“Some of them would have been in constituencies where they grew up only knowing a PNP MP. Losing is not in their domain and now they woke up Friday morning with a JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) MP,” he said.

The JLP secured a second term in office after claiming 33-seat majority in the general election. Several high-profile officers of the PNP lost seats that were once considered safe. Others like co-Campaign Director Peter Bunting, expected to prevail in PNP-leaning constituencies, also became election casualties.

Martin believes the party’s reluctance to implement any of the 21 recommendations that were raised by the PNPYO in a mini rebellion in April 2019 has proven to be fatal to its re-election ambitions.

The recommendations, aimed at rejuvenating and overhauling the party, were outlined during a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.

PNPYO President Krystal Tomlinson, along with members of the group, had subsequently met with the party’s chairman, deputy chairman, and general secretary to discuss the recommendations after they were leaked to the media.

Among the proposals was the removal of Deputy General Secretary Luther Buchanan and a call for a social audit to be conducted in constituencies that have been held by the PNP for 30 or more years.

The youth group also accused the officer corps of not listening to voices outside their inner circle.

The PNPYO also lamented the poor state of the party’s organisation in some constituencies and raised concerns about ineffective messaging and inadequate funding of the party’s communication machinery.

“None of those things were done. Some of them were rubbished by the leadership of the party,” said Martin.

He hopes the party’s top brass will accept the concerns of youth, an electoral cohort that opinion polls showed appeared more likely to vote for the JLP.

“The last time we had met and certain things were squashed and so forth. We weren’t as vociferous. This time around, given where we are, we are going to be more strident,” he warned.

Dr Peter Phillips has announced that he will be stepping aside as party president and opposition leader but did not give a timeline for his departure. Martin hopes that Phillips will be able to bring the party together and outline a clear vision for the future.

While agreeing that more young people seemed to have gravitated towards Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ ‘Brogad’ persona, Martin doesn’t believe that showmanship is necessary for youths to put the PNP back in power.

“What I believe young people to have been saying is that for them, there was some sort of stagnation within the PNP. The PNP that we preached about for years, they weren’t seeing that,” he said.

The YO general secretary believes that a new party president will galvanise the team to focus on the causes that are important to people.

“There is no denying that there are rifts in the party. A new leader must seek first to get all the groups within the party together,” Martin said.

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