Don't Destroy Lisa!

Elders say PNP must make use of Hanna's national popularity

Sunday, September 20, 2015

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THREE veteran members of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) are peeved by what they believe is the unwarranted pressure being placed on Member of Parliament for St Ann South Eastern, beauty queen Lisa Hanna.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer last Tuesday, the three bemoaned what they consider the short-sightedness of the party in allowing what they described as a "bright, young talent with tremendous national appeal" to be pushed against the wall by leaders of the PNP.

The three, who spoke on condition that they are not identified, want Hanna to be, instead, encouraged to prolong her life in politics and project what one sees in her as "uncommon talent and ability".

"How can you be treating Lisa that way?" one said. "This woman is the third most popular politician in Jamaica. Are we to say to Jamaica that, although she is a favourite of the people, some delegates of the party do not want her, and as a result she cannot play a role in politics?"

The popularity tag that the veteran referred to was recent opinion polls which placed the minister of youth and culture high on the list of politicians who enjoyed favourable ratings nationally.

She has been thrown in the top four alongside Leader of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party Andrew Holness, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, and Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips.

Hanna also has a considerable following on social media, with around 100,000 contacts and followers spread across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the most by any local politician.

But she has not enjoyed a close relationship with Simpson Miller of late, nor is it perceived by the veterans that she is liked by PNP General Secretary Paul Burke, and Burke's influential wife and PNP Vice-President Angela Brown Burke.

Hanna's critics cite comments that she made about the party leader, which reached the ears of the alert Simpson Miller, as one of the reasons for the strain in relations.

But that is something that has happened before with other people, and they have been pardoned, another veteran argued.

"I don't know what Lisa has done that others before her have not," he stated.

"You can call the names of people who have bad-mouthed Portia, including KD (Knight) and Peter (Phillips), yet they are not being squeezed out of their party responsibilities.

"Anytime you see a Cabinet minister under pressure, and the party leader does nothing about trying to protect that person, you know that the leader wants that person out," the party elder went on.

"(Councillor) Lydia Richards is challenging her for the seat, but as I understand it, even if Lydia wins, she will not be contesting the seat in the next general election. So, in effect, Lydia is just entering the contest to try and build a platform for someone else -- a prominent person whom we all know," the veteran went on.

The PNP is hosting its 77th annual national conference, which will end today with the public session to be addressed by Simpson Miller. The matter of the discord in St Ann South Eastern was mentioned at the private session of the conference, one source told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Hanna and Richards are expected to face delegates of St Ann South Eastern next weekend, and although the sitting MP does not have the backing of three of four councillors of the St Ann Parish Council, from all accounts, she is still the favourite among delegates.

However, word has reached the Sunday Observer that one influential PNP member and supporter has been already offering money to certain delegates in a bid to have them not attend the selection, and thus eliminate the possibility of voting for Hanna. The lowest offer being made to delegates is $5,000.

"We have to look at ourselves and our party and determine whether or not we want to move the organisation and the country forward," the third veteran stated.

"We cannot forever allow people, some of them of questionable character, to dictate the electioneering process. In the past we have had criminals and drug dealers dominating the proceedings, and we must ensure that we get rid of that for good," the veteran said.

St Ann South Eastern remains the only seat that the PNP has never lost in a contested general election, since it was formed in 1959. It was won first by Dr Ivan Lloyd, who also served for a short period as leader of the Opposition, and is known for having MPs such as former deputy prime minister, the late Seymour 'Foggy' Mullings, and Aloun Assamba, who now serves as Jamaica high commissioner to the United Kingdom. Hanna has been MP since December 2011.






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