Internal party poll shows St Ann MP with commanding lead over Golding, others


Sunday, September 27, 2020

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LISA Hanna has moved closer to delivering the knock-out punch to her opponents' cheeks, as the boxing match to decide the new leader of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) intensifies.

Hanna, 45, who secured a narrow 31-vote win over newcomer Delroy Granston of the Jamaica Labour Party in the September 3 General Election, is seen in a Don Anderson poll, commissioned by a group which includes elders P J Patterson, the former prime minister; and Burchell Whiteman, retired Member of Parliament (MP) and former education minister, as the individual best suited to take over as president of the PNP from Dr Peter Phillips, Jamaica Observer sources have said.

Dr Phillips, who has led the PNP as its president and serves in the Parliament as leader of the Opposition, announced on election day that he would demit office as head of the party, and all the related appointments, if the PNP lost to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).The PNP won 14 seats to the JLP's 49, in an act of humiliation that had been predicted by only a few analysts, foremost among them pollster Bill Johnson whose August survey, published in the Jamaica Observer on September 1, showed the JLP going into the election with a 14-point lead.

Dr Phillips reiterated his position after the election, hence the move by senior officials to make themselves available to the party's delegates at a special conference touted for November.

Hanna, who has served as MP for St Ann South Eastern since 2007, was surprisingly placed under pressure by virtual unknown Granston in a seat that the PNP has never lost in a contested election since it was formed in 1944, the year of Jamaica's first general election, as part of St Ann Eastern.

In fact, the first candidate to have represented the PNP in the seat, Dr Ivan Lloyd, served as Jamaica's first leader of the Opposition, a job thrown into his lap unexpectedly, after PNP President Norman Manley suffered a surprise loss to Ed Fagan in the St Andrew Eastern seat.

Hanna's performance against Granston has also earned her criticism, but the woman who won the Miss World title as an 18-year-old in 1993 remains hugely popular.

One member of the Jamaica Diaspora in the United States suggested yesterday that Hanna should review her own situation in the St Ann South Eastern seat, as “you want to have a leader with a safe seat, and not one who is looking behind him or her morning, noon and night”.

The Anderson poll, according to sources close to the PNP leadership, was conducted mere days ago, over a 72-hour period, and interviewed around 1,100 people. She reportedly enjoys a nine percentage points lead, close to the 10 per cent that a Jamaica Observer-commissioned Bill Johnson poll showed last week. The lead was among ordinary Jamaicans who support both major political parties.

Information reaching the Sunday Observer also revealed that Hanna enjoyed a commanding double-digit lead over Golding among potential delegates of the party, although the exact figure was not revealed.

Among the other potential candidates who got support in the poll, the Sunday Observer understands, are Julian Robinson, the party's general secretary, and vice-presidents Phillip Paulwell and Damion Crawford.

Last week businessman and former PNP treasurer Norman Horne confirmed that he would contest the presidential election, if it was the will of the delegates. Horne was named by Dr Phillips as one of eight PNP senators two weeks ago.

But yesterday, word emerged that Horne was re-examining the move to go forward as a candidate. He could not be reached for a comment last night, but a PNP official close to him suggested that Horne could announce that he would change his mind about contesting the post “within days”.

Johnson, in the poll findings published Wednesday, September 23, asserted that:

“A strong plurality of Jamaicans believe Lisa Hanna should be the future of the People's National Party. She is particularly strong among those under 35 years old where she is supported by more voters than all of her opponents combined. Her strongest opponent, Mark Golding, is strongest among those 55 years and older.”

Johnson said that among respondents in the 18-24 age group Hanna has 30 per cent support, while Golding has four per cent. In the 25-34 age group the spread is 22 per cent for Hanna, compared to eight per cent for Golding, while in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups Hanna enjoys 15 and 19 per cent, respectively, compared to 12 and nine per cent, respectively, for Golding.

In the 55-64 and 65 and older age groups, Golding commands 18 per cent and 19 per cent support, respectively, compared to Hanna's 11 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

The breakdown of the Anderson poll could not be determined, nor was it known if other questions relevant to the party's loss in the last general election were asked. Also, it was unclear about the margin of error, although most of Anderson's polls are tagged with margins of error of plus or minus three per cent.

Hanna, in a news release on the day the Johnson poll results were published, said that she would take nothing for granted “or make assumptions.

“Of course, the poll done 10 days ago is heartening, but it is equally humbling as many Jamaicans, young and old, are still looking to the PNP with high expectations. It is imperative that the party responds by first renewing itself as a united force before it can contribute to helping Jamaica weather the storms ahead,” Hanna stated last Wednesday.

Hanna has not declared her intention to run as a candidate, but it is widely accepted as fact that she is putting her machinery in place and expanding her consultative base as she looks ahead.

Golding, who announced his intention to run by way of social media last week, could not be reached for comment yesterday, as he was said to be travelling to rural Jamaica.

A crucial meeting of the party's National Executive Council will be held today and it is felt that Hanna will formally announce her candidacy.

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