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Bunting promises issues-based presidential campaign

Monday Exchange

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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THERE was a noticeable toning down of the bitter rhetoric which has so far marred the People's National Party's (PNP) presidential race when the 'Rise United' team launched its campaign on Sunday, and its leader, Peter Bunting, has said that was by design.

“We mustn't waste time cussing one another when the real danger comes from those with their hands in our pockets, and their knives at our throats,” declared Bunting during the glitzy launch at Manchester High School in Mandeville.

From the platform, speaker after speaker — including Bunting's business partner Chris Williams, Members of Parliament Ronald Thwaites and Colin Fagan, and even the sometimes acerbic Dr Dayton Campbell — extolled the virtues of their candidate without taking jabs at their opponents.

With only a few exceptions, Ian Hayles and Dean Peart, there were no references to the One PNP team led by Dr Peter Phillips, and Bunting later told a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange that this will be the tone of his campaign going forward.

“We have been very deliberate, from the choice of the name of the campaign, 'Rise United', because we always have an eye on September 8 and an understanding that we will have to work together,” said Bunting in reference to the day after delegates will vote to elect the PNP's president.

“I'm not going to tell you that there might not be two or three people who will say they prefer not to work with me. But in a party with 400-and-odd thousand regular supporters at the ballot box, you have to make allowance for a few switches or fallout.

“But, generally speaking, I am confident that if we continue on message, if we largely ignore those who are bitter and toxic, because they were bitter and toxic before the challenge and they probably will be bitter and toxic after… but if we largely ignore them and stay on our positive message and what our plans are, then we will minimise that fallout,” Bunting added.

According to Bunting, the PNP has gone through internal challenges in the past and has emerged united, and there should be no difference this time around.

“I am not going to pretend that there will not be some hurt or disappointment, but we can move past that because once we keep the transcendent purpose of why we are involved in politics at all in the forefront, we can put that aside. We are not about personal likes and dislikes, we are about the betterment of the Jamaican people.

“If we focus on that, I think it will allow us to transcend whatever personal hurts and differences we have and move forward together,” Bunting told the Observer editors and reporters at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters in St Andrew on Monday.

During Sunday's official launch of his campaign, Bunting had argued that under his leadership Comrades would get a party that works for them, one that provides real opportunities and protects the rights of workers, one that inspires the youth and galvanises the foundation members, and one that can win.

“The PNP has always been about giving every child, no matter from how modest the home, the chance to make it inna life. At the same time, many of our foundation Comrades need help. Mark Golding has volunteered to develop a PNP endowment fund that will use all of our knowledge of finance to raise and invest funds to assist these stalwarts who served the party for decades and have fallen on hard times.

“More importantly, we must help prevent younger Comrades from getting into these difficulties. So part of our political programme of work must be membership development. We must show that we care for our own Comrades, and not just use them for elections,” Bunting told the cheering supporters.

He also argued that the party's constitution needs to be simplified so the PNP can move more quickly to the issues at hand, while the party's communication strategy has to be completely overhauled to make it more attractive and able to recruit the best minds in Jamaica.


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