Regional

St Aubyn Bartlett targets Central Manchester

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 07, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The "interest" being shown by former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) parliamentarian St Aubyn Bartlett in this south central parish is focused only on Central Manchester, a seat currently held by National Security Minister Peter Bunting, an impeccable party source has confirmed.

Addressing Labourites at a North East Manchester constituency conference in Christiana on March 30, Bartlett declared that "I have an interest in a constituency in Manchester".

Bartlett did not name the constituency of interest and when quizzed by the Jamaica Observer Central refused to do so.

However, the JLP source told the Observer Central on Saturday that Bartlett's only interest is "Central".

"There are processes he has to go through so that's probably why he didn't want to specify," the source said.

Bartlett, a veterinarian, told the Christiana meeting of having lived in Mandeville — the heart of Central Manchester — and of voting for the JLP back in 1980 when the Opposition party, then led by Edward Seaga, won a landslide victory over the Michael Manley-led People's National Party (PNP).

A younger brother of East Central St James MP and former tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, St Aubyn Bartlett served for two terms as MP for Eastern St Andrew — 2002-2011.

However, he was dropped as a candidate by the JLP for the December 2011 contest.

One of three Manchester seats held by the PNP, Central Manchester is seen as the most vulnerable, despite being held by the high-profile Bunting. The latter defeated the JLP's Danville Walker by 539 votes in the 2011 poll.

Earlier this year, Bunting dismissed speculation that he may be contemplating moving from Central Manchester to a perceived safer seat.

"Absolutely not! I have no intention of moving from Central Manchester," Bunting told the Observer at the time.

Bunting, who at that time had signalled his intention to walk away as general secretary of the PNP, said then that he would be focusing more on building his support base within the constituency.

"I expect now to spend more time (within the constituency) and to continue to consolidate...," he said then.

The recent constituency conference in Christiana was hosted by North East Manchester member of parliament Audley Shaw. The meeting was addressed by JLP leader Andrew Holness, signalling a further mending of the fences following a divisive leadership contest between Holness and Shaw last year.

Both men committed themselves to unified action in order to defeat the ruling PNP when parliamentary elections — which are constitutionally due in three years — are called.

Holness, who was warmly greeted by Labourites in Christiana, declared satisfaction with the progress of the healing process following the leadership challenge.

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