A J boost for Bunting

A J boost for Bunting

PNP officer emeritus Nicholson backing younger Peter to lead party

Executive Editor – special assignment

Sunday, September 01, 2019

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OFFICER emeritus of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), A J Nicholson, last night became the latest heavyweight to throw party leader Dr Peter Phillips under the bus in favour of challenger Peter Bunting, head of the 'Rise United' faction.

“…Based on his service and accomplishments, both in the public and the private sectors, there is every good reason why the prospects for the fortunes of our party are projected to rise under his leadership. Peter Bunting has my support,” Nicholson told the Jamaica Observer.

Dr Phillips and Bunting will go head-to-head for the position of PNP president on September 7, Bunting's birthday, ahead of the annual conference, after the latter declared that the party could not win another election with the current leader and threw his hat in the ring.

As the ensuing campaign turned nasty, Nicholson, then a neutral, on May 31 lashed supporters of both Dr Phillips and Bunting for their ugly behaviour, saying: “There is therefore the requirement, first and foremost, for a sense of decorum — an upful tone — to be injected at once into the exercise.”

However, Nicholson indicated that the straw that broke the camel's back for him was the 2008 allegation by Wikileaks quoting Dr Phillips as secretly telling US diplomats that then PNP President Portia Simpson Miller “disgusted him”, and how a government led by her would be inimical to the development of Jamaica.

Phillips at the time denied the allegation contained in the series of classified cables sent from the United States Embassy in Kingston to the State Department, Washington DC, and released illegally by Wikileaks.

Clearly going for the jugular, Bunting's Rise United has let loose a video on social media in which a female supporter lashed Phillips for the Wikileaks allegations.

“No public explanation has ever been given as to why revelations by Wikileaks should, in this particular instance, be regarded as being grounded in other than the truth,” Nicholson lamented in a statement exclusive to the Sunday Observer.

“…Such unflattering, deeply held feelings, to serving representatives of a foreign government no less, constitutes a decisive disqualifying breach that must render ANY such individual — no matter his/her record as a minister of government — judged by any ethical or moral compass, totally unfit to receive our vote as leader of NW's/our party,” he declared.

The loss of Nicholson's support is bound to shake Phillips' 'One PNP' campaign, which appears to have been overtaken by Rise United in support from current or former Members of Parliament.

Nicholson, besides being a long-standing Comrade, former attorney general and justice minister; foreign minister and former parliamentary secretary, was the man who moved a successful motion to restore Phillips to grace after his failed second bid to topple Simpson Miller in 2008.

“I am concerned that a refusal to be obedient to that principled standard which so deeply touches and concerns loyalty in every sphere of human interaction, specifically so within the machinery of Cabinet government, sets an unpardonable example and precedent which cannot be ignored and certainly ought not, without more, to be endorsed and, by our vote, given a stamp of approval.

“Is that not an inescapable and honest measuring rod [of correction] by which some of the qualities required of Comrade Peter Phillips in this contest for leadership are to be judged?

“Elsewhere, and decidedly in the political arena, my watchword always has been loyalty and its contours.

“And, as the officer upon whose NEC (National Executive Council) motion Comrade Phillips was fully brought back into the fold of our party during Comrade Portia's presidency, after that distinctly game-changing 2008 challenge, I consider myself to be in an unquestionably fitting position to make such a judgement,” Nicholson said.

Accusing Dr Phillips of a “dismaying display of disloyalty and downright disrespect” for Simpson, the officer emeritus added: “Left unattended, the contours of disloyalty quickly develop into an incurable disease that overtakes the entire body of any institution…Peter Bunting, in seeking the presidency of our party, is not saddled with any such disabling issue,” said Nicholson.

Bunting in a response last night responded positively to Nicholson's move.

“For more than two decades the erudite jurist A J Nicholson, QC, retired attorney general, has been legal advisor to the PNP. We welcome his endorsement of the Rise United movem,ent as indication that both experience and youth think that ours is an idea whose time has come. We intend to transform the party and transform the nation. A J's endorsement is a sign that we can win and we are winning,” Bunting said.

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