Wednesday 11 December, 2019

Analyst: Bunting should be sanctioned for 'turning back on PNP ideal'

Peter Bunting on the political platform.

Peter Bunting on the political platform.

Political analyst, Michael Burke is of the view that Central Manchester Member of Parliament, Peter Bunting should be sanctioned by the People’s National Party (PNP) for stating publicly that he does not subscribe to the principle of democratic socialism.

Democratic socialism was one of the main principles/ideologies on which the 81-year-old PNP was established, and members are still expected to subscribe to it.

It is a term used to refer to the socialist political philosophy which advocates political democracy alongside a socially-owned economy, with an emphasis on workers' self-management and democratic control of economic institutions within a market or some form of a de-centralised planned socialist economy.

However, when the PNP was returned to Government after the 1989 general election, then Prime Minister Michael Manley embraced a more market-driven economy. The PNP, at least publicly, has seemingly continued to move in that direction since.

Burke... Bunting's membership should at least be questioned.

Also, many democratic countries, including the United Kingdom, have political parties that embrace democratic socialism.

However Burke, a self-declared socialist, said he found it disturbing that Bunting, who is not a democratic socialist, could have received so many votes in the recently-concluded presidential election, which saw him edged out by a mere 76 votes by Dr Peter Philips in a closely-contested race.

When the votes were counted at the end of Saturday’s special delegates' conference to elect the president, Bunting received 1,351 votes to the 1,427 received by Phillips. Some political commentators have said the closeness of the election makes Bunting the second most powerful person inside the PNP. But Burke has a different take on the matter.

“I don’t care how much money he spent on the campaign. I agree with my brother Paul Burke, that his membership should at least be questioned by the party’s Executive,” Burke told Loop News during an interview.

In July, when Bunting declared during a radio interview that he would not subscribe to the democratic principles embraced by the PNP, Paul Burke, a former PNP General Secretary, suggested that such a position should disqualify him from leading the PNP.

Burke backed Phillips in the presidential race while his wife, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, was Bunting’s campaign director.

“Every member of the PNP signs a document stating that they agree to the programmes and principles of democratic socialism, even when the party shelves democratic socialism,” Michael Burke said.

“The fact that Bunting got so many votes despite his position means that the political education within the party has fallen down." And he blamed former Prime Minister PJ Patterson for that.

Burke, a Roman Catholic, said he is not calling for Bunting to be expelled from the party. But, at the very least, he believes he should be censured.

“We at least need to put the question on the book and let people find out what is socialism but the PNP probably will not do it,” he said.

Burke argued that no Catholic bishop would escape sanction for publicly talking out against the fundamental doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

“They would be suspended right away, they wouldn’t be removed from the church but that person’s faculties as a priest would be suspended,” he insisted.

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