The curious case of Phillip Paulwell

Philip Paulwell has been around the block politically, he is a veteran what with his five stars and counting (electoral victories) and has always been chummy with those at the centre of power since the days when P.J Patterson brought him in as a young buck. Paulwell has soared through the ranks of the PNP and a minister since his days as an unelected thirty-something-year-old senator and has always been considered by some within the party as a possible party leader.

Sadly for Paulwell, he seems to be cursed with the Devils luck, always seemingly mired in some controversy, inevitably cleared but with his public political image in a worse and irreparable state than before the controversy. Be it youthful exuberance as Mr Patterson quipped as an excuse for a scandal, Kern Spencer who eventually took the fall politically (only to be freed by the courts) or even the ensuing Caricel drama, he always seems to be three degrees separated from scandal.

That has, however, never stopped him politically, from being an influential P.J acolyte, he transitioned smoothly to becoming one of Portia’s lead henchmen, to seamlessly backing dr Phillips in the farce of a coronation in replacing the incumbent leader of the party Portia. He seems to the outsider anyway, to be untouchable (scandal-wise) and has a habit of never really owning his mistakes (to give it a polite term).

Yes within the party he is an untouchable and seemingly immovable being, but he has never had the wide popular support of the general public like say a Dr Phillips and the PNP would do well to take note of that.

Yes, he is popular within the party but to the general public, he is considered to be either incompetent or just plain corrupt, neither of which are good options. He is viewed as at best hype man, all chat and no action (as seen with the LNG debacle) and at his worst when the action does come it is almost always shrouded with suspicion and conspiracy such as the Cuban light bulb scandal and Netserv.

Paulwell whether he is actually corrupt or incompetent perfectly embodies all that is wrong with Jamaican politics generally and with the PNP specifically. He has risen to the heights that he has because he was a decent attorney (at a time when they swelled the chambers), a great brown-noser and a genius when it comes to controlling delegates. He has no natural political talent to speak of (he is neither diplomatic, a long-term thinker or partial to constituency redevelopment) and the people know this, and while they may, in the end, become disillusioned with the Jlp if they dilly dally and break promises, the PNP will not see power again and in a long-term fashion unless it jettisons persons like Paulwell.

Jamaica needs a new breed of politicians and age really is no factor here as Paulwell is only a sprightly 54, we need honest persons, people who are actually talented and offer something through public service (government etc) and who can leave a positive mark on the nation. Let us, in short, be rid of acolytes and lackeys and instead promote and hold on to those who can make moves without the public constantly and with reason looking suspiciously at them.

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