Suckoo defends party politics
(CNS): With a backlash against party politics and expectations of significant numbers of independent candidates declaring for the May 2013 General Election, one would-be politician running with a party has said that the resistance to party politics is misplaced and is a result of the last three years in which voters have been shown exactly how not to run a political party. PPM member Al Suckoo said that once the voting public has seen the Progressive’s manifesto and how each party member will play their role in implementing those commitments, they will be ready to accept that a properly run political party is actually good for the country.
“We should not pre-judge all political organizations as power hungry and selfish simply because the UDP has shown us how 'one man rule' and flawed motives can bring economic failures, loss of reputation and loss of confidence in the country,” said Suckoo who is hoping to run with the PPM in Bodden Town. “What we must realize is that there is a right way and a wrong way and if done properly parties are the ideal form of organized politics, but each member must subscribe to the rule of law, respect the constitution and play by the rules.”
He said he was not concerned about the backlash against party politics as the Progressives have recruited a number of younger, educated, experienced people who understand the need for honest, open, consultative and transparent government. “We realize that we are not only contesting the upcoming elections, we are also re-building confidence in the party system. I am confident we will be successful in doing both,” he told CNS.
Suckoo said that the idea parties do not consult was misguided and pointed to the PPM’s constitution, which outlines how policies are developed among members of the parliamentary group and considered by the party executive, who can either accept and approve the policy or require further discussion.
Using the proposed dump move issue as an example, Suckoo said there would be no chance of getting a real solution to waste management if voters do not elect people in Bodden Town who have a common agenda and who have committed to a plan, and who will present their plan prior to the elections.
“Simply hoping that four independents in Bodden Town will work together is not enough,” he said. "The former UDP representatives in Bodden Town have made clear their position to bring a dump to Bodden Town, and the Progressive team in Bodden Town has stated our disagreement with the proposed facility.”
With both sides of the argument already represented by the parties, he said, no one knows what a loose coalition of independents will bring to the table.
“We will not know what they will do until after they are elected,” he warned. “This is not realistic and if we resort to electing people because of what we hope they may do, we might find out the hard way that their collective solutions will not reflect the wishes of the electorate.”
Unity in the party does not signify blind loyalty, he said, explaining that all of the potential PPM candidates challenge Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin on many issues. The Progressives' policies have undergone significant discussion, debate and even argument prior to that position being made public, he noted.
“Party politics is not for the meek; one has to be prepared to argue strongly for the ideas you propose and to be prepared to accept that consensus is a requirement," he explained. “No one individual should be able to run off and, at will, implement political change and/or policies without having to first convince his or her peers. Once consensus is achieved, all members will then be on board with the most practical and acceptable solution or position.”
Suckoo said he is convinced that the most efficient and effective way to accomplish a set of objectives and goals is through a well disciplined and functioning organizational structure.
“This is not a new concept. Successful companies achieve their objectives through the division of effort, creation of a hierarchical management structure, consolidation of diverse skills, sharing of knowledge, establishment of a common set of goals, shared policies and principle. I fail to see how a loose coalition of independent thinkers, who are bound to have equally diverse priorities and objectives, can be more effective than a team or organization working together as a unit,” he added.
With party politics being blamed for the country’s ills, especially by the Coalition for Cayman, Suckoo pointed out that the things they want, which is people working together, is exactly what happens in the party structure.
“It gets individuals working together, sets the ground rules, establishes the goals and provides the mechanism for achieving them,” the would-be Bodden Town representative added.
“There are so many other organizations that successfully operate the way parties operate and just about every successful business venture uses the same principles. One has to question if a coalition of Independents will work, not because there are so many differing opinions and viewpoints but because each independent will not be committed to a common goal and will consider his or her agenda to be more important than those of the other 17 members.”
He said his party would "put its cards on the table and state, prior to the voter deciding who to vote for, what its position and policies will be,” while he noted that there were no guarantees from the independent candidates. He said whatever great ideas may be put forward, there was no way to know whether, if elected, they will be in a position to follow through.
“They will be competing with 17 other independents that also have great ideas,” he pointed out. “It is also contrary to the principle of collective responsibility to think that a government can be formed and will function successfully without having a close working relationship and consensus on the priorities prior to becoming a government.”
Suckoo is making his first run for office but he is no stranger to politics, having been heavily involved in the recent OMOV campaign, and he has worked on various committees with several of our present and past politicians, including Roy Bodden and Gilbert McLean on their past campaigns.
Suckoo said he wanted to be part of a group that encouraged participation rather than simply support their policies. He said the PPM’s efforts to improve accountability in politics impressed him and the party has a solid team of candidates who have the passion, experience, knowledge and skills necessary for the job.
“There are no shortcuts with the PPM,” he added. “No substance over process. The party leadership hold themselves to the same standards as everybody else. We are all expected to give the same level of commitment, meet our obligations and deliver on our promises. The party operates like a well-oiled machinery and everyone is acutely aware of the consequences of one component of the machine breaking down.”
With transparency at every level and diversity in the party, he said, the Progressives come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and educational disciplines. Suckoo said he believes the party will win people over to the benefits of party politics and overcome the suspicions when the PPM hits the campaign trail in earnest.
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