Across the world there are political parties that cover the entire spectrum of political philosophy. This ranges from the ultra-right to those on the far left. The recent elections in the USA, the United Kingdom and France have resulted in left and left of centre parties all being on the losing end.
The Republicans and the Conservatives in the USA and the UK, respectively, are —depending on whom one speaks to — either right-wing or centre-right political parties. En Marche! in France is a self-described centrist political party. The Democrats, the Labour Party and the Socialists in the USA, the UK and France have all lost and appear not to be able to be winners in the immediate future. It is my considered view that a lot of this has to do with the fact that apart from the USA, so called right-wing or centre-right parties have all drifted to the centre, forcing the left-wing or centre-left parties to drift further to the left.
In Jamaica, the situation is no different. The JLP under Edward Seaga was perceived as a conservative party. Under Andrew Holness it has pursued centre-right economic and fiscal policies but fairly left-wing social policies. Its policies on free secondary education, no user fee medical care, the J$1.5-m income tax threshold are all decidedly left-wing policies that would have made Michael Manley beam with pride. This mix of centre-right economics and left of centre social policies along with changing demographics have created a political dilemma for the PNP. It either has to drift further left or further right, as the centre has been captured. Frankly, there isn’t enough space in the centre over which to fight. The extreme right will never vote for the PNP whilst the extreme left will.
Corbynism and Sandersmania in the UK and the USA during their recent general elections were fascinating political spectacles. Both Corbyn and Sanders drew the majority of their support from young people — millennials. Both are older white males, well past the normal retirement age, yet both earned huge support from young people with their policies and the hope that they sold. Both Corbyn and Sanders describe themselves as being democratic socialists.
Recently, the leader of the Opposition spoke about Democratic Socialism as being the core philosophy of the PNP. Young people as a general rule are idealistic and enthusiastic. Millennials are not concerned with labels but with policies. Millennials need both strong social policies and hope. They do not need, want or desire austerity, hopelessness, or a lack of idealism. Millennials do not watch the nightly news or spend a lot of time reading traditional newspapers. Social media provides up to the second news — real or fake!
Both the Comrades and the Labourites of the 1970s are dinosaurs, slowly dying off, unable to form a substantial voting block for the future. The next two years leading up to the next general election will be a fascinating chess game.