I helped recruit many young people for the PNC
Stabroek News
January 18, 2002

Dear Editor,

Mr Dennis Grant's letter captioned "Norton and other critics have been notably deficient in crafting an alternative policy for the PNC" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] (11.1.2002) is a classic case of deception that demands the records be set straight.

In Mr Grant's letter he states that "Mr Norton failed because of a lack of discipline especially in financial matters." At the level of the party Mr Hoyte says that the issue with me had nothing to do with financial matters. However, behind closed doors he tells some people and insinuates to others that there was some form of financial indiscipline.

As to whether I failed as general secretary, the people have already decided on the issue. However, as it relates to financial matters, it is public knowledge that the major finances of the PNC were and are still under the control of Mr Hoyte, even after he appointed a Treasurer in 1998. The finances that were handled by the Secretariat over which I had responsibility were always accounted for by way of a financial report from the Head of Finance. On the issue of finances in the PNC, I can say without fear of successful contradiction that my character is impeccable.

It is true that Mr Norton, Alexander and Willabus did meet Mr Hoyte and a friend of mine at Campala in 1994. What is not true is Mr Grant's view that that meeting was convened "when he (Norton) started to snipe at the leadership of the party and in particular at Mr Hoyte personally" and that "several people undertook to convey his concerns to the leader of the party". The meeting was organised by the friend who informed us that the leader needed help and that he wanted to meet us. We agreed and we met Mr Hoyte. It was decided that we will organise the young people. This was done and the young people started meeting at Campala under my Chairmanship with Mr Alexander and Mr Willabus assistance until they elected their own chairman. Please recall that this process brought to the party many young leaders who were subsequently marginalised.

As for sniping at the leader, that is ridiculous. I cannot be accused of sniping. It has always been a characteristic of mine to express my views in the presence of the party leadership. I said what I think is right and fair at various party fora. These views were expressed in the presence of the founder leader, in the presence of Mr Robert Corbin as Chairman of the YSM and Mr Hoyte both as president and party leader in opposition. Not sniping, my honest opinion.

As to the alleged offer by myself and Mr Alexander "to craft a document which will not only redefine policy but, more importantly, reorganize the secretariat", this is not true. That apart there were many documents produced by many people in and out the party aimed at reorganizing the party that were never implemented by Mr Hoyte, including, The Way Forward proposals. This is just a red herring.

Mr Grant in his letter seems to be suggesting that Norton and his young colleagues were pushing the society towards confrontation and that it 'took the very statesmanship of Mr Hoyte ... to rescue the PNC and this nation from the misguided and ill advised actions of Norton and his cohorts". All I will state here is that the reverse is true and that while I cannot discuss the truth in public, I am prepared to discuss this period in private with honest and decent non PPP people who are not prepared to make partisan political capital out of it. I am sure that at the end of the discussions the young people will stand tall and proud. We demanded power sharing. Suffice to state that nothing close to what happened in 2001 happened in 1997 when young people had a say. In 1997 our strength was our capacity to mobilise large numbers. The young people made our point with mobilisation and organisation.

The attempt is to shift the focus to Norton the issue is not me, the issue is that Mr Hoyte has failed our supporters as Opposition Leader and it is time for him to retire to his rocking chair.

Yours faithfully,

Aubrey C Norton