Pa­tri­ots will de­cide who to back in PNP race

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS - BY KIMONE FRAN­CIS

FRONT-RUN­NERS in the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party’s (PNP) lead­er­ship race, Lisa Hanna and Mark Gold­ing, will know by next week which of the two has the back­ing of the PNP Pa­tri­ots and its 26 del­e­gates ahead of the Novem­ber 7 in­ter­nal poll.

The group rep­re­sents the young pro­fes­sional arm of the Op­po­si­tion party, now at a cross­roads fol­low­ing its bat­ter­ing at the polls last month in a run­away con­test that went 49-14 (seats) in favour of the Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP).

PNP Pres­i­dent Dr Peter Phillips has since in­di­cated that his in­ter­est in lead­ing the 82-year-old or­gan­i­sa­tion has waned and so he will step aside to al­low for a suc­ces­sor.

Yes­ter­day, Pa­tri­ots boss Omar Newell con­firmed with the Ja­maica Ob­server that un­like last Septem­ber’s lead­er­ship chal­lenge be­tween Dr Phillips and Peter Bunt­ing when the group failed to en­dorse a can­di­date, a de­ci­sion has been made that the cau­cus must have a say in who sits on the throne this time around.

Al­ready, Newell said one can­di­date has reached out to the group for a meet­ing to shore up sup­port. The Pa­tri­ots are ex­pected to formally in­vite the other can­di­date to a meet­ing this week.

The group is then ex­pected to meet with its del­e­gates, eight of whom come di­rectly from the party’s Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil, fol­low­ing which ei­ther Hanna or Gold­ing will be en­dorsed.

Hanna, the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for St Ann South East­ern, holds a 10-per­cent­age point lead over ri­val, Gold­ing, the St An­drew South­ern Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Bill John­son sur­vey that was com­mis­sioned by the Ob­server.

The poll was con­ducted Septem­ber 11 to 13 among 1,000 vot­ing-age Ja­maicans is­land­wide and has a sam­pling er­ror of plus or mi­nus three per cent.

“Once that is done we will demo­crat­i­cally agree on a can­di­date based on what we feel the party needs. Once we de­cided on a can­di­date we will make that known,” said Newell.

He told the Ob­server that the party had first sought to put for­ward a con­sen­sus can­di­date but some, in­clud­ing those from the Pa­tri­ots, were of the view that a de­ci­sion like that has not proven to be ef­fec­tive in the past.

“You’d see in re­cent his­tory that An­drew Hol­ness was se­lected as a con­sen­sus can­di­date for the JLP [and] there were al­ways el­e­ments within the party won­der­ing what would hap­pen if there was a con­test. The same hap­pened with Peter Phillips. It’s al­ways best to have a can­di­date tested or have a can­di­date test the level of sup­port he or she has from the del­e­gates and cloaked with that au­thor­ity from the del­e­gates,” said Newell.

“So, our view is that a re­spect­ful ex­change of ideas, fol­lowed by a vote is the way to go about se­lect­ing a can­di­date — not a few peo­ple in a room de­cid­ing who they want but through a demo­cratic process,” he added.

The Pa­tri­ots pres­i­dent, at the same time, ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that the process ex­cludes the wider mem­ber­ship of the party in terms of de­cid­ing on a leader but said that that is a mat­ter to take up at the party’s an­nual con­fer­ence, usu­ally sched­uled for Septem­ber but ham­pered by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

In the mean­time, he said while there has al­ways been “fringe mem­bers” who have proven dif­fi­cult to con­trol in the past, the pos­ture so far in the con­test from both camps has been re­spect­ful.

“The two can­di­dates who have de­clared so far, we think, are lead­ers in their own right. We can’t fool our­selves; it’s a pretty nar­row field com­ing from where we are as of Septem­ber 3. How­ever, some of us would have loved to see Loth­ian Cousins in the race as a wild card but we know that will not hap­pen. Nev­er­the­less, we’re pretty com­fort­able that Lisa or Mark would be a good choice to lead the Op­po­si­tion and the PNP,” said Newell.

Cousins is a first-time Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment rep­re­sent­ing Claren­don South Western.

HANNA... an­nounced at PNP Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil meet­ing that she is in the race

Mark Gold­ing has con­firmed that he will run for of­fice of PNP pres­i­dent.

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