As PN councillors you are entrusted with the responsibility of filtering nominees for the election of the next leader of our party.
There has been so much talk bandied about that this candidate or that one should have been prevented from contesting. That there should have been vetting of candidates before the process started and only eligible candidates allowed to run.
You are best suited to make just that choice. You are the correct party organ to make a call like that. Because filtering nominees is a political decision and you are best qualified to take it. You have heard enough the past several weeks to make that call and you will now need to judge, on the basis of what is known or should be known but seems hidden, who should make it to the ballot sheet on the 16th September.
If you’re eligible to vote tomorrow you are what many others are not. The many who have been long-term supporters of the party and who have voted for it all their adult lives are nowhere near as committed as you are to the politics of the party.
For you are not merely supporters of the PN. You are the PN. You are elected from and by your communities and from and by your peers and you are chosen by them to represent their views in helping to mould the politics of the PN.
Sometimes that feels to you like meaningless hyperbole. You are often frustrated because you wish to contribute more and you find that other actors within the party who should know better limit your ability to do what you wish. But that too is a part of politics. No one can achieve anything on their own. One can only be of use in a team and to persuade and negotiate and help to make the team work. No one knows this better than you.
You have experience in choosing leaders within your own community or section committees. You have experience with the better leaders and experience with the worse ones.
You also have experience with election candidates who rely on you to help them reach out to your neighbours.
You figure out the abilities of candidates instinctively, recognising very early on the smooth-talkers, the good-for-nothings, the prima-donnas, the hard workers, the unapproachable, the affable, the charismatic, the ineffective, the promising, the delusional, the genuine, the duplicitous, the slow, the reliable, the self-absorbed and the efficient.
You worked for years in your community and you have acquired an understanding of expectations and aspirations of the voting population unparalleled in any branch or organ of the party. But you know when people are fickle and spiteful. You can tell true hardship from petty bargaining and you understand it better than politicians with higher ranks.
You know the strengths of your party and you know it has plenty. You know its weaknesses and you know it has plenty of those too.
You aspire for change but you are not easily excitable and without thinking too much about it, you balance enthusiasm with caution.
You have long been considered the right people to choose alone the leader of the party and you have never really got it wrong. Your record as electors is better than some conclaves.
Short-listing candidates for a wider suffrage is not a relegation in your function or the confidence you enjoy. Once the job of confirming legal eligibility is done you are the ones with the responsibility to choose the politically eligible.
You will now use your well-honed skills and experience to choose the candidates that can really do the job. You will resort to the same instincts that help you distinguish between election candidates in your ordinary course of business as sectional and peer committee members and filter the candidates who would make suitable leaders of the PN from the ones less so.
You will rely on your experience of promoting candidates in the difficult market of the streets out there by selecting the candidates who will not only be an easy sell the first time round but will continue to be appreciated when the novelty wears off.
Because you know the public changes its mind very quickly and will crucify on Friday the prince it hailed on Sunday. You know better than anyone that a candidate will need to fight for and win support every day against ever the toughest odds. They must be good leaders of the party, good leaders of opposition, good campaigners, but also and most importantly good prime ministers who earn the support of the people every day they go to work.
You will choose between the candidates and put aside the momentary swings of popularity. You will put aside what people think they “want” now and think about what they will need for the five, ten, fifteen years to come: maybe more.
You have the responsibility to assess the candidates dispassionately and like a juror in a courtroom to ignore all that you have heard outside. Your decision cannot be conditioned by the applause or the criticism you expect the right decision might attract.
You will not be conditioned by the bickering on Facebook or the anonymous letters or the political spin designed to confuse you rather than inform you. But you will not ignore the facts that you do know to be self-evident.
You will not be blind to the truth but you will block out the noise of manipulation, particularly the threats and the wild gesticulations of trolls who all over social media pretended to be your colleagues although they have names you never heard and pressed you hard against a trend they want you to believe exists.
You will do what you think is right for this party you have committed so much time and effort to, because it is now your responsibility to choose.
If you want to do what is right, choose what you know in your mind and your heart to be the best choice.
After Saturday, when the outcome is known, it’ll be out of your hands and a larger crowd will make the final call from the short-list you have drawn up. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
For now, remember you are the party. Go on. Do your duty.