Tuesday 31 March, 2020

PNP Officer Corps to meet to discuss Bunting challenge

Peter Bunting

Peter Bunting

The influential officer corps of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is to meet at 3pm Monday to discuss matters related to the leadership challenge that is being mounted by Central Manchester Member of Parliament, Peter Bunting against PNP President Dr Peter Phillips.

Bunting, a former PNP General Secretary and Minister of National Security, on Sunday publicly announced his decision to challenge Phillips for the leadership of the party at its annual conference in September.

The annual conference is the highest decision making body of the party. However, Loop News sources claim that this afternoon’s meeting is an attempt by the Phillips camp to have the leadership challenge held earlier than September.

“That’s what they (the Phillips camp) want but I am not sure if that is going to be agreed to,” said a party insider who is close to the development.

The concern among those supporting Phillips is that the more time Bunting gets, the more Members of Parliament and delegates he will be able to peel off, according to Loop News sources.

“That would make it difficult for him (Phillips) to win,” a source said.

Bunting, who addressed a conference of the PNP's Knockpatrick division in his Central Manchester constituency Sunday night, signalled that he will formally launch his campaign in July. He also insisted that there was no hostility between himself and Phillips.

Last month, Bunting turned down an offer to be Phillips’ campaign director for the next general election which is constitutionally due by 2021 thus confirming what Loop News had been teasing for months – that he was positioning himself to challenge Phillips for the leadership of the 80-year-old organisation.

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With two by-election defeats since 2017 and with a much younger Prime Minister Andrew Holness connecting with young voters, in addition to an improving economy, there are growing fears within PNP circles that Phillips is not electable.

In fact, Bunting said so in a lengthy statement he issued on Sunday in which he explained his reasons for mounting the challenge against Phillips at this time.

Already, South St Andrew MP, Mark Golding, a long time friend and business partner of Bunting, North West St Ann MP, Dr Dayton Campbell, and the MP for Southern Manchester, Michael Stewart, have announced their support for Bunting.

Reports indicate that the party’s four vice presidents – Damion Crawford, Phillip Paulwell, Dr Wykeham McNeill and Mikhail Phillips who is the son of the PNP President, are lined up behind Phillips.

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