Will age weigh down Peter Phillips in 2020?

By Saturday, April 1, 2017 1 1

Party politics is that door through which young men and women with hope in their hearts and fire in their bellies enter but only leave when they believe their names are sufficiently emblazoned into the psyche of the people.


But that takes time because it’s always a balancing act between those people who are convinced one politician is a lying scoundrel and others who swear he deserves mention among those who occupy a divine dimension.


So a young man enters at 21 and is forced out by the impelling force of time at 80 years and over. By that time there is another balancing act that few politicians want to make an admittance of. Did the politician advance the lives of his constituents more than he advanced his own, personal bank account?


Dr. Peter Phillips has a reputation of being a ‘clean’ politician. That places him in quite rare company because politicians of unquestioned integrity tend not to do so well like those on the other side, the ‘far side’ in the middle where one finds a large cluster of those making out like casino owners.


Prime Minister Andrew Holness is right at that age, 45, where I believe a man reaches his highest attainment when all the factors of his reduced physical prowess and an exponential increase in his wisdom and mental energy are thrown into the mix.


PNP President, Peter Phillips is 67 and will be 71 when the next election rolls around. Peter’s wisdom has never been in doubt even if many, especially the bulk of the JLP support believes he sold out to the Americans in that infamous MOU of 2004. That it assisted in permanently dislodging the don of dons in Dudus has not helped.


Peter is much slower than before and the thought of him doing a sprightly sprint up a short staircase to the political podium is only that. A thought. In terms of pure optics, Andrew Holness exudes youthful energy along with a perception that the nation is more ready for new directions from the young instead of remaining on the same old saddle path by a lumbering, slow rider.


It is my belief that Peter Phillips should have been long made PNP president. He was, after all, the de facto PM in the period 2011 to 2016. As to whether any new ideas generated by him will stand way out in front and much farther than his lack of magic from the political podium; that is likely to be only be tested in 2020.


Both parties are filled with senior citizens and there is a reason for that. Politics is a drug much stronger than cocaine and most politicians must bear the addiction for the lifetime of their stay especially when their winters never seem to end.


It is not that this nation does not have batches of bright 30 to 40 year old leaders who could bring exciting new directions to political leadership. We know that they are here. But many are afraid of sullying their names and images with the internally generated stink of politics.


Add to that the fact that space is limited and the best part of the political real estate is occupied by the oldsters and, bright, younger politicians who are lucky to enter through a side door can only attain much inside when enough time has elapsed and there is adequate proof that they have been transformed into exact clones of those who they swore they would never become.


Peter Phillips cannot invent himself at 67 years old. An inconvenient truth is that reality pointing to the fact that Phillips attained his greatest political moments only because Portia, without any great claims to intellectual prowess had the political magic to give him power.


The question now is, what can Peter Phillips, on his own at last, generate between now and 2020 to make the bettors in the electorate declare him as the odds-on favorite?

Mark Wignall

Mark Wignall

As one of Jamaica’s most read columnists if not the most read, Mark Wignall began with a brief stint writing for Jamaica’s oldest and most respected publication, the Gleaner - it's Sunday edition...
Mark Wignall
  • Jack Russell

    That depends on how good a manager he his. Someone was telling me that Phillips has never made the top slot until now because he wasn’t a safe pair of hands in being Mr. Clean. I have no idea but even if he doesn’t make PM he has an opportunity to change the face of politics in Ja for ever and for the better. That in my view will serve far better than being a lame duck PM in a slow lame duck economy. The problems desetting this country will take a long time to resolve and a vibrant opposition and some real statesmanlike bipartisan co-operation will be needed to do it