Golding: There is no immediate plan to change Opposition senators

Golding: There is no immediate plan to change Opposition senators

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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MARK Golding, the man seeking to replace Dr Peter Phillips as the People's National Party (PNP) president next month, says he has no “immediate intention” of reversing the party leader's Senate appointments should he emerge the victor of the internal election.

Golding, who would also become Opposition leader should he beat competitor Lisa Hanna, said he has met with the eight senators appointed by Dr Phillips — some of whom he has worked with during his stint in the Upper House — and was satisfied with the discussion they had.

“So, I have no immediate intention to change that,” he declared, during this week's virtual Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

“I think there's a big difference between a situation in which there are vacancies to be filled and a situation in which there are persons sitting in those positions,” he added.

Golding, who served as Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate before being elected to the Lower House as Member of Parliament for St Andrew Southern in 2016, said his priority going forward is to unite the battered party.

He said that needs to be done in a way that does not create waves.

“I don't foresee a need to make any major changes, but this is a dynamic situation and we will assess it as time goes by. But I'm quite pleased that the team that we have there [can] acquit themselves well and so I have no present intention to make any major changes,” said Golding.

Dr Phillips, only weeks before his November 7 date to step down as PNP leader, announced his Senate picks, surprising some political watchers when he opted not to name former Manchester Central Member of Parliament Peter Bunting among them.

Bunting, whose loss in the September 3 General Election sent shock waves throughout the political arena, had challenged Phillips for the top job, losing by some 70-odd votes in an internal contest just over a year ago. He was backed by Golding, his business partner and friend.

Dr Phillips, though managing to retain his St Andrew East Central seat in the just-concluded parliamentary election, led the PNP to a crushing 14-49 defeat by the Jamaica Labour Party.

In identifying the senators, he said that the group reflects the party's commitment to a Senate that is a distinct deliberative body as intended by the Constitution of Jamaica and does not, as a consequence, include any of the party's unsuccessful candidates in the general elections.

He said it has been a long-standing principle of the party.

Since that time Norman Horne, one of Phillips's picks, has signalled his intention to resign once a new leader takes the reins of the 82-year-old organisation, creating a vacancy.

Horne said his decision would give the next Opposition leader a free hand to appoint his or her senators.

On Monday, Hanna, who was also a guest of the Observer, while reiterating the party's position on Senate appointments, suggested that Bunting could have a future there.

“It's normally not the practice within the party to appoint persons who have necessarily lost their seat to the Senate but it's a dialogue we can all have, certainly moving forward, to build the unity. I believe all Comrades have a space and I believe that we need the best people with the best talents in the best positions,” the Member of Parliament for St Ann South Eastern said.

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