Sunday 25 October, 2020

Brown-Burke calls for PNP introspection after councillor moves to JLP

Angela Brown-Burke

Angela Brown-Burke

Member of Parliament (MP) for South West St Andrew, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, has called for introspection within the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) following one of its councillors in Manchester opting to join the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) on Thursday.

The PNP, in a statement, insisted that it was its decision to replace Councillor Faith Sampson as the party's candidate for the John’s Hall Division in Manchester that led to her changing party affiliation.

But in a Facebook post on Thursday night, Brown-Burke said the party will have to assess how it handled the situation of one of its members stepping out of the party to join another.

She elaborated that, "I don’t believe persons just step out of one party to join another. I think when this happens, we have to do some introspection: Did this move catch us by surprise? If it did, then things are worse than we think (that means we are not connected, missing them clues, tone deaf)."

The latter statement hinted at the divisions that surfaced within the party following last September's bruising presidential race between the incumbent, Dr Peter Phillips, and Central Manchester MP, Peter Bunting. Phillips defeated Bunting by only 73 votes.

Councillor Faith Sampson

Further rifts developed in the party, as for months, the Opposition parliamentarians who supported Bunting were isolated from those who had supported Phillips in the leadership race.

Then in a stunning move in February of this year, the PNP's two-term Trafalgar Division Councillor in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, Kari Douglas, crossed the floor to join the JLP. The move sent tongues wagging about further divisions within the Opposition, and the possible intentions of other elected PNP representatives joining their proverbial opponents.

In a move by the PNP hierarchy geared towards unification, Bunting was appointed co-campaign director and Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives last month, replacing Central St Mary MP, Dr Morais Guy, who supported Phillips in his successful bid to retain the presidency of the party.

In relation to the present switch by another PNP councillor, Brown-Burke's Facebook post added that "If it did not take us (the PNP) by surprise, then we also need to examine the steps we took to resolve the (relevant) issues."

The former PNP vice-president said oftentimes members of the party have taken each other for granted. Further, she shared on Facebook that some concerns of party members were ignored.

"Too often we take each other for granted as if some contributions are more valuable than others. Too often we ignore the concerns of others and expect them to “forget about it” just because we say so," added Brown-Burke.

Of note, the parliamentarian did not reveal the nature of the concerns that she suggested were being ignored, or who had not paid attention to the concerns.

Peter Bunting

But Brown-Burke, who supported Peter Bunting in his quest for leadership last year, asserted that "We (the PNP) cannot take the public for granted, and we shouldn’t take each other for granted either."

Despite the perceived criticisms directed at some officials within the organisation, the seasoned politician reaffirmed that she is still a "Comrade".

"Yes, I’m a Comrade. I believe the PNP is still the best party to lead Jamaica and to reduce the inequality we see in so many areas. But let’s ensure that we remain grounded, with a listening ear and an open mind," she posted on Facebook.

She ended her post by suggesting that "It will take many (some of whom will not follow without questioning) to succeed. Let’s be willing to work together for the greater good. #comradeforlife #broadenthebase #lookingoutforeachother."

Up to time of publication, the PNP's leadership had not respond to Brown-Burke's Facebook post.

Dr Peter Phillips

Meanwhile, in an earlier statement, the PNP said Faith Sampson, a three-term councillor, had been suffering from a decline in support and favourability, and that a recent internal assessment confirmed that her candidacy would present a challenge for the upcoming local government elections, which are due in November of this year.

The PNP said it met with Sampson on Monday, and the divisional executive on Tuesday, when she decided to resign from the party.

The PNP said against that background, it was "not surprised" by her change of affiliation to the JLP.

"The PNP thanks Councillor Sampson for her years of service to the party and people of the John’s Hall Division, and wishes her well in her endeavours," the party said, adding that it was forced to listen to the voice of the people "who have expressed their concerns about Councillor Sampson’s ability to champion the seat on behalf of the party."

The party said it would immediately proceed with a selection process to determine a new councillor/candidate for the division.

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