Majority PNP Patriots backing Golding, says president

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Majority PNP Patriots backing Golding, says president

Friday, October 23, 2020

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PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP) Patriots President Omar Newell says most of the group's members have committed to giving Mark Golding the nod to succeed party leader Dr Peter Phillips, who is set to demit office next month.

In an earlier interview with the Jamaica Observer, Newell had said the members of the young professional arm of the Opposition party would meet to discuss which of the two presidential candidates would receive their collective backing.

St Ann South Eastern Member of Parliament (MP) Lisa Hanna, who was nominated on Wednesday, is the other candidate vying to lead the party.

Since that interview, the group has been unable to definitively settle on one candidate, and its members have since been steadily declaring support for either candidate.

The Patriots boasts 26 delegates, who are expected to cast their ballots in the November 7 internal election.

“There are some members who believe that we should go individually, and there are some members who believe that we should endorse as an organisation. My own canvass is that my position has the support of the majority of members, but there are some formalities to be sorted. In terms of my own thinking of what the party needs, I feel Mark is the better of the two candidates, so I'm going with him,” Newell told the Observer earlier this week.

The group had previously met with both candidates, who are said to have presented their plans for the PNP.

He said that the party, having suffered its worst defeat in recent years, needs an institutional builder.

“We need somebody who can go from constituency to constituency, properly assess what the needs are, and will be able to spend time working with candidates at the constituency and divisional level to rebuild the organisation. We need someone who will ensure that training programmes are put in place to properly monitor and see how they are executed.

“I think Mark has a whole lot of experience between his law firm and private sector entities that he has spent time building. That, I feel, is transferable to the kind of work that is needed in the PNP now. Additionally, I think the party has just been so fractious over the last couple of years, we need somebody who is not polarising, who people don't have strong negative feelings about, within and outside of the party,” said Newell.

The Patriots president said of the two candidates who have so far declared their interest, Golding — the MP for St Andrew Southern and former justice minister — has checked all the boxes.

Golding, he added, is a “unifier”, pointing to members of his campaign team who were on the opposite side last September when his friend and confidant Peter Bunting challenged Dr Phillips for the presidency.

“Also, his constituency, in my mind, demonstrates that he is a unifier. He won the challenge against Colin Campbell for chairmanship, and then went on to smooth things over. His constituency is one of the constituencies that you haven't seen any signs of division coming to the public fore. All the leaders in his constituency are behind him, and he has been able to actually increase his margin in the constituency coming out of that contest,” Newell told the Observer.

He said Golding has also displayed a deep commitment to young people, with the largest youth organisation in the PNP coming from his St Andrew Southern constituency.

He noted, too, that Golding has made himself available to young people within the party, providing both advice and support when needed.

“So I think he comes with the technical skills. I think he comes with the soft skills that are needed, and I think, just based on his track record, that he'll be able to attract the resources to fund the kind of programmes the PNP will need,” he said.

— KIMONE FRANCIS


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