Lack of unity in the PNCR helps to reveal weakness in its leadership

Dear Editor,
After reading Herbert Allen’s letter titled “Ten reasons for retaining Mr Norton”, published in the local press, I am left perplexed. To keep my bewilderment in check, I re-read the letter, hoping to gain some profound insights into Allen’s reasons for retaining Norton as leader of the PNC. Instead, the following is what I found.
Allen portrayed Aubrey Norton in glowing terms as “a PNC stalwart and loyalist for nearly fifty years…[someone who] knows the party inside out.” Given his longevity and knowledge of the PNC, the question emerges as to why Norton is experiencing difficulty in galvanizing support from party loyalists who elected him as leader “just over two years ago.”
As the current leader; and someone who has had time to interact with, and solidify support among, members, one would have expected Norton to experience minimal resistance in retaining the leadership of the PNC. Instead, there appears to be ‘internal fighting and turmoil’. As Allen puts it, “My PNC political party is rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the Caribbean.” This then begs the question whether a party that is unable to unify its members and elect a leader can succeed in representing a disparate population?
At a minimum, a true political leader is someone who possesses some charismatic appeal, can command the respect of members, mobilize support, and articulate a vision that extends beyond the personal expectations of loyalists or enthusiastic supporters. Could it be that Norton lacks such characteristics? This subsequently proved to be a nagging question. So, I probed for answers. Here are a few things that revealed themselves.
1. Instead of articulating a vision for harmonizing a pluralistic Guyanese society, Norton has seldom refrained from promoting racial politics, characterizing the PPP/C as an Indo-Guyanese party. His Afrocentric approach to national politics has served to promote divisiveness and exclusion instead of a Guyanese unity. And in so doing, he customarily ignored or debased, rather than supported the policies of the PPP/C Government that serve to benefit all racial and ethnic groups within the country – his supporters included.
2. Often, Norton has referred to the President as ‘installed’. This not only demonstrates some level of disdain for a ‘duly elected’ President, but also suggests an unwillingness to accept the electoral defeat of the PNC. Interestingly, Norton aspires to assume the same office should the PNC achieve electoral victory nationally. Would he then like to be referred to as the ‘installed’ President?
3. Reportedly, Norton has hinted at the utilization of violence as an avenue in ascending political power [published on 1/21/24]. Could it be that Norton realizes the weakness in his leadership, and thereby clutched to remarks that serve to inflame ethnic tension between Afro and Indo Guyanese?
4. A leader’s remarks that serve to stir violence are lamentable, for such utterances signify weakness instead of strength in leadership. Today’s Guyanese should not be misled by idle chatters of aggression by politicians seeking acclaim, especially since many elderly Afro and Indo Guyanese are still around to call attention to the racial hostilities of the 1960s that nearly destroyed the country.
Norton may have already squandered the opportunity to solidify support among his colleagues to remain as leader of the PNC, but that decision is better left up to the members of the PNCR.
Perhaps, Norton and other PNC aspiring leaders need to be reminded that objective and meaningful political representation starts with the articulation of visionary and impartial policies and practices, and in this regard the PPP/C – under the leadership of Irfaan Ali, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Mark Phillips – has excelled in bridging the racial-ethnic separatism that others seek to exploit for personal political gains.

Narayan Persaud