THE PNC’s elections have been over a week now, and though he won, Aubrey Norton seems to be still electioneering and trying hard to convince the public that he should be taken seriously.
He is already showing the signs of a confused politician when it comes to his policies and political strategies.
This is so when one considers what Norton has already said as leader of the PNC, and his track record in the party where he was considered an outsider or political rebel who was far too dangerous to the PNC’s image and the new path, down which the party was going.
Last week, he repeatedly stressed that he wanted unity and an end of the era of the maximum party leader. Well, surely Norton knows that those concepts are easier to say but harder to achieve. He has already started the factionalism by keeping silent on whether or not he intends to change the PNC’s representation in the APNU+AFC Coalition’s parliamentary seats. This strategic move by Norton is classical tactics of the old PNC, while his team puts in place the arrangements and systems for a smooth transition. He is also at loggerheads with the former party leader David Granger, who has unwillingly distanced himself from. Recall that it was Granger who continued the unspoken understanding of not choosing him for a parliamentary seat from 2011 to 2015, or a seat in government. Granger’s boys and supporters are now in a hard place with Joseph Harmon and Amna Ally not offering anything that could calm them down. So much for unity within the party!
Also, Norton’s toxic talk about the private sector and developments in the oil and gas sector is as telling as it is crass and highly offensive. When he starts to flex his linguistic ability and comprehensive knowledge of the things related to the two institutions, one will realise that Norton is ignorant and not knowledgeable about the things he is saying. Putting it mildly, one could easily assume a crass and aggressive front from him as the leader of the PNC and a lack of understanding of correct policy articulation, development and adumbration.
Additionally, Norton faces President Dr Irfaan Ali’s government and party. Seemingly, he has already offerred some glimmer of hope, because it seems he is going down the road of consultation with the new PNC executive which is inexperienced. If they say continue the Granger-Harmon path of non-acceptance of the election results and race politics, Norton will more than likely concur.
Remember the PNC’S “Mo fire, Slow fire campaign,” which led to a face-off of street supporters of the opposition and policemen in the 1990s and early 2000s. A similar move, if agreed to by Norton, will no doubt be met with stern resistance of President Ali and the PPP who will never let Guyana go backward to this type of ravenous politics. Norton’s close relationship with Rickford Burke and Dr David Hinds will be closely monitored by right-thinking Guyanese.
Norton has the chance to put this discrimination and racist politics behind him by admitting that the APNU+AFC Coalition lost the 2020 elections and tried to rig them. This move will be viewed as taking the PNC to new levels and removing it from the gutter politics associated with defeat. The PNC continues to hold strongly to this myth, despite the high display of resentment shown by its supporters who are a majority of Black Guyanese.
Instead, Norton should seek to rationalise what the PNC did for its supporters while they were in office. It’s anyone’s guess – nothing — because Granger was busy practising politics of elites and marginalised his own grassroots support base. They didn’t listen to their farmers and instead imposed land rental increases of 300 per cent and VAT on items in the country. They neglected the small man in the Black villages across Guyana. They were corrupt, hardly did anything to accomplish their manifesto promises to Lindeners, Sophia, New Amsterdam and South Georgetown, to name a few.
Finally, if Norton desires to make his mark on the PNC and the history of Guyana, he will have to make difficult and unpopular decisions. He will have to put a hold on the Granger-Harmon ways of doing things and start engineering a new path of handling things in the party and country. He cannot go back to the confusion and the levels of deception that he is displaying now, or the old type of activism to which he is accustomed. Norton must change the spots of the PNC by not creating a new movement, but by ensuring the change of politics to a more charismatic, developmental, and highly democratic one.