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No vengeance after election

Phillips confident of victory, says he will operate on principle but PNP's structures must be respected

BY VERNON DAVIDSON
Executive editor — publications
davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Dr Peter Phillips is going into the People's National Party (PNP) presidential election confident that he will beat the challenge mounted by Peter Bunting.

But after September 7 when the party's almost 3,000 delegates make their choice, the victor will have a bit of a task suturing the deep wounds inflicted on the 81-year-old party by Comrades from Phillips's 'One PNP' camp and those supporting Bunting's 'Rise United' campaign.

It is obvious that Dr Phillips and his supporters are deeply hurt by the Rise United camp's insistence that the PNP president doesn't have the ability to lead the Opposition party to victory over the governing Jamaica Labour Party in a general election.

However, Dr Phillips is assuring the party that those comments, and others made against him since the campaign started, will not influence his attitude to his opponents after the votes are counted.

“I've always been a believer in the fact that the party needs to accept diverse views and needs to be willing to accommodate people with divergent views, we've always had that, [but] these views and divergencies all have to fall within a framework of party discipline, because it is also true that a house perpetually divided against itself will suffer, he told the Jamaica Observer in an interview at the Office of the Opposition Leader in St Andrew on Friday morning.

“I have never been a vengeful person. Life is too important to spend it settling old scores; and my own record, since assuming leadership of the party, has been to accommodate everyone. So I will certainly do all I can to operate on the basis of principle, on the basis of accommodation, but I am equally going to ensure that the party, its structures, its principles, are respected,” Dr Phillips said.

Until the internal election date, the PNP president said that he and his team will continue meeting with delegates in what is regarded as the constituency conference season leading up to the annual conference, the party's highest decision-making body.

“We have met with them, I think in every part of the country essentially, and there may be a few where we will meet again,” he said. “And we will continue to do the work of the party, as we did yesterday (last Thursday) with the press conference to put out the constitutional changes, the second phase of the covenant discussions within the party so that the party can have a sense of its philosophical foundations and the kind of policy commitments that those philosophical foundations direct us toward.”

But even has he and his team do all that, Dr Phillips is making it clear that while they are confident of ending Bunting's leadership challenge, they will not be complacent.

“What I've learnt about elections is that you do your homework,” he told the Sunday Observer. “We've done that and will continue to do it right through until the final ballot is counted and we achieve the results we expect.”