LEADERSHIP IS NOT THE PROBLEM
The PNCR is in such utter confusion that it is doubtful whether it can, in the short period available, provide a credible challenge to the ruling party in the next general and regional elections.
Here is the PNCR having seen a significant decline in its showing at the last elections, spending a great deal of its energies in deciding on a mechanism for the party’s presidential candidate rather than attempting to make up the ground that it lost during the last elections and concentrating its energies on expanding the party’s support base.
Do the supporters of the PNCR really believe that electing a new presidential candidate is going to improve its showing in the next elections? If the problem with support is the candidate then why does not it then change its leader instead of having a situation whereby the party has one person as its leader and another as its presidential candidate.
Do the supporters really believe that its leadership is the problem? Do they really believe that a fresh face will allow the party to do better in elections?
Why spend all this time and energy trying to find a presidential candidate when the party is not addressing just why it did poorly in the last elections when it lost close to eight percentage points? In elections when a party loses by more than 10%, the winner is considered to have won by a landslide.
How does the PNCR expect that by simply putting up a new presidential candidate to reverse that showing without any serious legwork being done between the last elections and now?
What is happening within the PNCR is what happened after the 1992 elections. Defeat has been hard to bear and instead of addressing the need to change the direction of the party and reach out to other constituencies, many supporters of the party decided to make the leadership scapegoats. Desmond Hoyte suffered because of this. He was even called Peter Sellers, and accused of selling out the PNCR by agreeing to free and fair elections.
After the loss in 1997 and 2001, instead of addressing the central issue as to whether the PNCR could win an election and what it needed to do, instead of addressing how the actions of political protests had permanently hurt that party, again there was pressure brought on the leader by suggestions that Hoyte should step down.
At the very time when the leadership of the party needed to be supported in the rebuilding process, what we had was the leadership being undermined.
Two serious developments undermined Hoyte. The first was that extremists began to lead the party faithful in the wrong direction and the party found itself in a dilemma. If it openly criticized these extremists, it would lead to divisions. On the other hand allowing the extremists to take root placed pressure on the leadership to act in a way that was destructive to the best interests of the party.
The PNCR lost the middle class because the party found itself having to deal with this dilemma.
This is why all this talk about a presidential candidate is not going to address the real problems of the PNCR. The PNCR does not have a leadership problem. Burnham knew what he was doing when he mentored the present leader of the party. He knew talent when he saw it.
At least give Burnham some credit in that area. He also knew what he was doing when he made Desmond Hoyte Prime Minister.
The problem with the PNCR is not leadership. But if the supporters feel this is the problem then why not change the leadership, why concentrate on a presidential candidate and not on a new leader?
Whoever the PNCR chooses at its next presidential candidate is going to become another fall person. There is no way that the PNCR is going to win any elections in this country next year. The PNCR is up against not just a strong powerful ruling party but up against a new oligarch class that is stinking rich and will pour so much money behind the PPP that no party has a chance, not even a coalition of opposition parties.
Instead, therefore, of wasting its energies behind selecting a new leader, the PNCR should recognize that it has a leader who should be supported in rebuilding and expanding the party’s base if not for next year then for 2016.