Things will only get tenser and more testing for Norton

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Dear Editor,

My earlier position that Mr. Aubrey Norton is in front in the, sometimes, tense PNC leadership horserace is now confirmed.

Things will only get tenser and more testing for him from here. December 11th could be both a long road and a high mountain. Before proceeding I make clear (again) my position, I write to share more as an interested Guyanese, and a neutral PNC watcher; just as in the PPP. I have no choice to make, no vote to give. But I can and will tell of how I foresee the lay of the land ahead.

Candidate Norton, now the confirmed leader of the pack, has his work cut out for him, with pluses, and huge minuses. Regarding the negatives, he is subject to some forces beyond his control. Nevertheless, they are still within his grasp to influence in his favor.


His frontrunner status reflects the sentiments and anguish of party faithful and brethren, which is to his advantage. He must make their pain his pain, as any diligent and skillful political infighter would do. His assurances would be that there would be no letting up, no letting down. For this is what is longed for, this is what will galvanize the party, perhaps, the bigger national picture. Mr. Norton is believed to have what it takes; he has to be a fighter now, but demonstrate that he has the healer in him. The party will need this when the scrapping is over. (As an aside, I like the guy, but why is Mr. Greenidge’s name is in the list of contenders for leader, given his current relationship with the PPP? Maybe, it is just a sentimental gesture).

Because this is what the disgruntled are looking for: a fighter in more than words, at least in the vigor of a sturdy spirit that may not be revered, but will neither be taken for granted nor dismissed. But, more tellingly, one to be feared. I think that, when these are taken together, this is Mr. Norton’s calling card and trump card. The latter is a linguistic choice, but could take on the dogged intensity of the American political leadership equivalent.

Obviously, this makes Aubrey Norton the man to be most watched, win, lose, or draw. A school of thought is that it does not matter for the PPP which PNC leadership candidate succeeds, so effective is its national lockdown, so confident it is that it can deal with him (more on this later) on its own terms, from within the PNC. Nonetheless, I detect that the party’s brain trust apparatus (all of one) has a preferred winner, one making certain business possible. It is not Mr. Norton, which means trouble for him.

My reading is that Candidate Norton must battle on two fronts. His competition within the party holds key organisational cards, management control cards, others of lesser weights. They will not step aside, allow him to seize the leadership prize. The usual internal party dynamics that surface on these occasions are among obstacles ahead. Said differently, intrigues and machinations that characterize party Congresses (the PPP is no exception, nor Guyana unique) could be to his disadvantage. There is no easy way to nuance this, but here goes: he must do whatever it takes to hold on to his lead.

Horse trade, wheel and deal, form strategic alliances, and always with tactical eyes on surrounding cast of characters. In the shifting sands of party emotions and party loyalties, Mr. Norton must manifest how much of a negotiator and bargainer he is, the depths of his confidence building prowess, and the kind of inspirational leadership he can provide in the clinch.

This is his crucible, the first crucial one. Overpower adversaries, and overcome the environment gathering steam against him, and he is home. But not until the last vote is officially read into inerasable and irreversible scrolls.

At this juncture, I revisit something hinted at earlier: how the PPP absorbs this, meaning, Mr. Norton’s formidable emerging status. This is the external component of his worries; one which the PNC has some hard memories of, when its people failed to answer the bell in some elections stations, because they had been reached and touched by the PPP. The PPP has assets to sway people from Mr. Norton, and it will do so, whatever the cost. Further, I think Exxon must be alarmed by what Aubrey Norton as PNC leader embodies for its own affairs in Guyana.

Hence, I think it can lend resources to the PPP to diminish his present numerical surge, dilute his appeal, weaken his prospects. In a word -money, and lots of it. It is why I said earlier that Mr. Norton must be vigilant to internal and external menaces to his chances. He does not want to be the victim of a political St Valentine’s Day massacre on December 11th.

Elections 2020 is a good indicator; he must hold his enemies close; friends closer, until he is past the finish line, when a whole series of new challenges are his to own. As I see it, the PNC leadership race is his to lose.

GHK Lall

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