PNP focused and ready after retreat

PNP focused and ready after retreat

By Balford Henry
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 13, 2020

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People's National Party (PNP) general secretary, Julian Robinson is confident that the wounds from the challenge to Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips last September will heal before the next general election.

“That is a process. You had a contest in September [and] it was bruising. I think bringing back Dayton Campbell [to the shadow cabinet] is a start,” said Robinson, who did a solo act, representing the party's leadership, at a press briefing which followed the two-day retreat on the Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies, yesterday.

However, Robinson admitted that the healing would not happen overnight. He said this was a part of the reason why the party staged a retreat so early in 2020.

Robinson was reacting to traditional and social media focus on the disunity created by the close battle between Dr Phillips and Peter Bunting, at its annual conference at National Arena in September.

Phillips retained the leadership of the party by beating Bunting by 76 votes. He received 1,427 votes to Bunting's 1,351, with a 96 per cent turnout of delegates.

The bitter contest continues to haunt the party and could impact its chance of returning to government, as some members refuse to bury the hatchet.

The race cost Campbell, the Member of Parliament for St Ann North Western and one of the leaders of Bunting's campaign team, his position as spokesman on health in the PNP's shadow cabinet.

But he was last week returned to the shadow cabinet as the party's spokesman on special projects, “with a particular eye on implementation during the first 150 days” of a possible return to power by the PNP after the next general elections.

This sparked claims that Campbell was to replace Damion Crawford as the party's main spokesman on its manifesto. But yesterday Robinson dismissed this claim.

“Crawford gave a presentation on the preparation of the manifesto [at the retreat],” Robinson said as he indicated that the Crawford, a vice-president of the party, had done extensive work within and outside the party for the manifesto.

However, he admitted that concerns have persisted that the disunity created by the September contest continues to feed a disjointed membership, while rumours continue to swirl about resignations from the shadow cabinet over the reappointment.

According to Robinson, other Comrades who supported Bunting's challenge will be given lead roles as the party goes forward.

He also noted that candidates have already been selected for most constituencies, and at least 20 of those selected so far will be facing the electorate for the first time.

Robinson told journalists that the retreat also focused on crime, corruption and what he termed “inequality”.

He described inequality as the “distance between those who have and those who didn't have”, which he claimed was partially fed by the $1.5-million income threshold which was at the heart of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party's 2016 victory, as well as the absence of a “livable wage” for minimum wage earners and the increasing use of contract workers.

He said that Phillips spoke to the delegates on the three issues and noted that there is nothing that gives the PNP confidence in the Government's plan to reduce crime and violence, or when outstanding results from investigations into alleged cases of corruption in government will be released.

“It was a very productive retreat and the feedback has been positive. I think it has been good for us to come together as a team,” declared Robinson.


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