'Mark-ing' time

'Mark-ing' time

Golding still to decide if he will seek PNP's top job and defends decision not to sign letter endorsing Phillips

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 17, 2020

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MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew Southern Mark Golding is rejecting claims that he was opposed to outgoing president of the People's National Party (PNP) Dr Peter Phillips being named Opposition leader on Tuesday, following the party's massive defeat in the September 3 General Election.

On Monday reports surfaced that Golding had not joined the other 13 victorious PNP candidates in signing a letter sent to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen indicating that they supported Phillips to be named the leader of the parliamentary Opposition.

But yesterday, Golding told the Jamaica Observer that while it is correct that he did not sign the letter, he wrote to the party's chairman, Fitz Jackson, indicating why he had not signed, and his reasons did not include a disagreement with his colleagues on the Opposition benches in Parliament on who should be the Opposition leader.

“I am a team player and the 15 [14 after Luther Buchanan lost Westmoreland Eastern in court] MPs are a team, and we have to play well for the best interest of Jamaica and the Opposition in Parliament,” said Golding.

“Dr Phillips has been chosen as leader of the Opposition and I am fully on board with that during the transition period until a new leader has been elected, or whatever the process ends up being. This is not a time for division.

“I had some concerns about the process which I outlined in a letter to the chairman of the party, which I believe is in the media now. I don't really want to discuss that any further, but in answer to your question, I am fully supportive of the leader of the party in the interim period as leader of the Opposition and party president until we get through the interim period and a new leader is chosen,” added Golding.

While Golding was not prepared to state his concerns, Observer sources say in his letter to Jackson Golding expressed concern that he was asked to rubber-stamp the appointment of Phillips as Opposition leader without a discussion, despite Phillips submitting his resignation as party president following the 49-14 defeat in the general election.

According to PNP sources, Golding also expressed concern about the process used by Phillips to select the eight individuals to represent the party in the Senate, although he is on his way out.

The sources added that many senior members in the party, who are not necessarily opposed to those selected, are also concerned that Phillips might saddle his replacement with senators who can opt not to resign when a new Opposition leader is selected and prevent that person from naming his or her team.

Last year Phillips indicated that he would resign if he failed to lead the PNP to election victory and confirmed that position on the morning of the election. Following the party's walloping at the polls by the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Phillips kept his word and submitted his resignation.

But the party's executive is yet to work out the process of how his replacement is to be elected, and Phillips remains in the PNP's top post for now, despite being the only president of the 82-year-old political party not to be elected to lead the Jamaican Government.

With the PNP's executive still to work out how and when it will choose a new president, Golding has not ruled himself out of the running.

“I am considering all possibilities, I have not made a final decision one way or the other,” declared Golding, who was a major backer of Peter Bunting in his unsuccessful bid to unseat Phillips last year.

Bunting suffered a surprise defeat to the JLP's Rhoda Moy Crawford in his Manchester Central constituency in the last general election which could have opened the door for Golding or another aspirant to emerge as the replacement to Phillips, despite the polls showing the former presidential candidate as the popular public choice.


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