A number of so-called progressive political parties have been winning elections throughout the Caribbean, and the People’s National Party (PNP) needs to follow suit in Jamaica, says Minister of Finance in St Vincent and the Grenadines Camilio Gonsalves.
Speaking at a PNP constituency conference in Kingston on Sunday, Gonsalves said the PNP needs to remember the lessons and policies it taught to other progressive parties in the region in order to gain success at the polls.
“Progressive parties around the Caribbean are different because we care about the people and we work for the upliftment of the poor and the sufferers in our countries,” said Gonsalves, the son of St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
He noted that in addition to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St Lucia, and Dominica all have progressive governments in office.
“Wha gwaan wid Jamaica?” he questioned.
Progressive parties may be defined as those that seek to improve the lot of the majority through government action, as against conservative parties who favour private ownership and free enterprise.
Generally, progressive parties are seen on the left of the political spectrum with conservative parties on the right.
The Unity Labour Party (ULP), headed by the elder Gonsalves, has been in office in St Vincent and the Grenadines for the past 22 years, winning five consecutive elections.
Camillo Gonsalves urged the PNP to develop a narrative to distinguish itself from the governing Jamaica Labour Party.
“The first lesson is that we must always know we are different from the other side,” he said.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines minister said his government had implemented a number of policies to help the poor, such as having the lowest price on gasolene in the Caribbean by removing the tax, sending a record number of students to university, and removing the tax on fertilizer to farmers.
Meanwhile, PNP President Mark Golding said a review of the party’s vision and philosophy had been completed and would be taken to the party’s annual general meeting on the weekend for approval.
The Vision and Policy committee was chaired by Professor Anthony Bogues, a veteran humanities lecturer who worked closely with Prime Minister Michael Manley and in the 1980’s he was the secretary of the party’s Political Education Commission.