Hopscotching councillor cries shame on PNP, declares himself independent again
GRANGE HILL, Westmoreland — Councillor Lawton McKenzie on Monday signalled his intention to make another jump in his political allegiance hopscotch, declaring that by today he will be an independent for the second time in six months, after being snubbed by the People’s National Party (PNP) as a candidate for the upcoming local government elections.
“I am telling you that by tomorrow (today) I will declare myself as an independent candidate for the people of Grange Hill. I am willing to win the seat for the people,” McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer hours after the PNP presented its candidates for Westmoreland at Manning’s School in Savanna-la-Mar on Sunday evening.
Up to Sunday at 5:00 pm, just an hour before the PNP unveiled its candidates, McKenzie was locked in a meeting in his division with his delegates, charting the way forward.
However, during the meeting he received news that left him fuming.
“I had a meeting yesterday and I was fully briefed by my supporters that Ian Hayles said that I cannot run for the PNP,” McKenzie said.
Hayles is a vice-president of the PNP and chairs the party’s Region Six, which encompasses St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland. He has faced stern opposition from Comrades in the parish, particularly Westmoreland Western where he was selected as the party’s candidate for the next general election.
Last July, McKenzie was among three councillors within the Westmoreland Western constituency who resigned from the PNP and initially declared themselves independent. The others were Ian Myles (Little London Division) and Garfield James (Sheffield Division).
However, while Myles and James have since switched allegiance to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), McKenzie retuned to the PNP last September.
On Monday, McKenzie told the Observer that after saving Savanna-la-Mar Mayor Bertel Moore from being ousted last September, he is yet to get a call from Moore following Sunday’s announcement by the PNP leadership.
“The mayor has not called me yet, after all I have done. They played tit for tat with me,” McKenzie bemoaned.
He said up to last Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation he was awaiting a call from PNP President Mark Golding, as well as Peter Bunting, on the way forward.
He further stated that the party had suggested doing a poll to determine the councillor candidate, but he opposed it.
McKenzie cried shame on the PNP for feeding him false hope as he was under the impression that he would be the candidate for Grange Hill.
“Promises were made to me, and I will address that at a later date. They should be ashamed of what they said to me. Even before Christmas they said that I am the candidate and that I must continue to work,” McKenzie told the Observer.
Contacted for a response, Hayles sounded surprised at hearing of McKenzie’s decision.
“Okay, he’s going independent?” Hayles questioned.
“Okay, McKenzie has the right to do whatever he chooses to do, that’s his right. It wouldn’t be the first he had gone independent,” Hayles added.
He explained why Warren Llyttleton was chosen to represent the PNP in the division.
“It is not a matter of McKenzie not being selected. The gentleman has been in the post for two years; McKenzie had gone independent. The party went through a selection process where the polls and other scientific methods were done in terms of arriving at a candidate,” Hayles said.
However, McKenzie insisted he is a diehard Comrade but that he and Hayles just cannot see eye to eye.