One By One

Bunting supporters to declare daily, says western Jamaica MP

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-large
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — A daily declaration in favour of Peter Bunting is said to be the game plan among members of the Opposition's parliamentary group who support the Manchester Central Member of Parliament's (MP) bid to wrest leadership of the People's National Party (PNP) from President Dr Peter Phillips.

“Yesterday (Sunday) Dayton Campbell came out and endorsed Bunting; the day before it was Mark Golding; tomorrow (today) it will another MP. This is a part of our strategy,” one MP in western Jamaica, who did not want to be named, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

According to the MP, Bunting has strong support across western Jamaica. However, when the Observer contacted a number of PNP MPs and constituency representatives they were tight-lipped about who they support in the leadership race.

Many said they would make their decision public at a later date.

On Sunday, though, PNP Vice-President Senator Damion Crawford openly declared his support for Phillips.

“I think Peter Phillips brings to the party what is necessary; he understands the issues. There is no doubt that mistakes have been made in the past by Government and the PNP, but because of Peter Phillips's experience he can show us the mistakes that were made and ensure that they don't happen again,” Crawford told the Observer after his address at the party's Mount Salem Divisional Conference in St James.

He said that, while he congratulates Bunting for “having sufficient public acceptance, at the end of the day my personal opinion is that Peter Phillips is the better one”.

Earlier, Crawford told the meeting that Dr Phillips has the requisite leadership skills and experience to guide the younger members of the party.

“The responsibility of a leader is to make sure we don't lose; he is the goalkeeper. We know Peter [Phillips] is old, but with all his age he has never been accused of being a thief,” Crawford said, adding “he will make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes that have been made before.”

Bunting, on the weekend, announced that he is challenging Dr Phillips for the leadership of the 80-year-old political organisation. He said that speculation is rife that under Dr Phillips's leadership the PNP cannot defeat the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in a general election.

Under the watch of 69-year-old Dr Phillips, the Opposition has lost two parliamentary by-elections to the JLP the first in St Mary South Eastern in October 2017, and the other in Portland Eastern, a seat which the PNP held for 30 years, last April.

Yesterday, as other members of the PNP parliamentary group started endorsing either of the candidates, Phillip Paulwell, a PNP vice-president and MP for Kingston Eastern and Port Royal, told the Observer that he is in full support of Dr Phillips.

“I will be working hard to convince as many delegates from Region Three and Region Four to support the party leader,” said Paulwell, who was chairman of Region Three before becoming a vice-president. Region Three comprises Kingston and St Andrew and is considered to have the most delegates, while Region Four comprises St Catherine and Clarendon.


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