Two St Elizabeth Comrades on Golding, HannaMonday, November 09, 2020
BY GARFIELD MYERS
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The contrast was stark as People's National Party (PNP) delegates gathered in friendly but rival camps close to the entrance of the voting centre at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) on Saturday.
At close to midday, many had already voted for either Mark Golding or Lisa Hanna to replace Dr Peter Phillips as president of the People's National Party (PNP).
Across the road from the school's gate, scores of Golding supporters appeared to be in a party mood despite an annoying drizzle, milling about chatting and laughing to a backdrop of reggae music.
Right beside the school gate, Hanna supporters in much smaller numbers seemed far more subdued.
Long before 5:00 pm, even before some St Elizabeth delegates had left Santa Cruz for home, the official result of the internal poll was announced in Kingston. Golding had won comfortably, by 296 votes.
But at midday and deep into the afternoon, the question which had dominated discussion within and outside the PNP for weeks, remained topical. Which of the two candidates was best suited to become the sixth president of the 82-year-old PNP?
In separate interviews, Hanna supporter Errol Hummingbird, a former PNP councillor for the Ipswich Division, and Golding supporter Everton Fisher, current councillor for the Balaclava Division and former mayor of Black River, appeared to largely capture the essence of opposing views.
Hummingbird said Hanna was the right person to lead the PNP “at this time” because she was the choice of the “people”, and best able to beat Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) when the next parliamentary elections are called.
“If I am going to listen to the people on the ground, there is no other choice but Comrade Lisa Hanna,” said Hummingbird.
Fisher pointed to what he suggested was Golding's history going back to activism as a youthful follower of legendary, former Prime Minister Michael Manley, and an unblemished reputation in public life, both in terms of capacity and integrity.
“I have listened to persons who have not been voting... in the last election [63 per cent of Jamaicans] did not vote, and when I talk to them, they are looking for someone who can bring back the integrity to politics. At this time, Mark Jefferson Golding is the best person I see,” said Fisher.
The former mayor of Black River hailed Golding for his role as justice minister during the last PNP Administration led by Portia Simpson Miller.
“A lot of the legislation that was put through during the Portia Simpson-led Administration, he piloted those... At this time his track record is impeccable, he came out highest in the integrity index, and I believe, at this time, Jamaicans are looking for someone who they can really trust in terms of their credibility...” said Fisher.
For Hummingbird, the parliamentary election, due in a few years time, should be foremost in the minds of Comrades.
“The important election is five years down the road... who is going to go up against Andrew Holness? And the young people are saying the best person to beat the Jamaica Labour Party is Lisa Hanna. None of us can take anything away from Mark Golding, but you have to have the connection. In politics there is no second place, you win or you lose...” said Hummingbird.
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