Thursday 24 September, 2020

‘Ruddy’ Spencer resigns from politics; intriguing by-election looms

Rudyard 'Ruddy' Spencer (file photo)

Rudyard 'Ruddy' Spencer (file photo)

Member of Parliament (MP) for South East Clarendon and State Minister for National Security, the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Rudyard 'Ruddy' Spencer, has resigned from representational politics with immediate effect.

The resignation was announced by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Charles Snr, on Tuesday. The announcement was followed by glowing tributes to Spencer from his colleagues on both sides of the political divide.

A by-election is now on the cards, as National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, who is also the JLP’s General Secretary, said the intention of the Government is to fill the seat soon.

Senator Pearnel Charles Jnr, son of the speaker, is expected to contest the by-election on behalf of the JLP.

With talks that general elections are likely to be held this year, although constitutionally due in 2021, it is not immediately clear whether the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) will contest another by-election immediately ahead. It would be mindful that it has lost two crucial by-elections to the JLP since the 2016 poll. But, if the PNP decides to contest the by-election, the party is expected to be represented by its caretaker/candidate, Patricia Duncan Sutherland.

Senator Pearnel Charles Jnr... expected to replace Spencer as the JLP candidate for South East Clarendon. 

A daughter of former top-ranked PNP politician, Dr DK Duncan, Sutherland lost the seat to Spencer in the 2016 General Elections by close to 1,000 votes. However, she remained in the constituency and PNP insiders believe she can pick up the seat for the party, based on the work she has put in and the fact that Charles Jr is being parachuted into the constituency.

Patricia Duncan Sutherland... presently the People's National Party's (PNP) caretaker/candidate for South East Clarendon. 

The younger Charles, who is a Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, had ambitions of replacing his father in North Central Clarendon. At age 84 years, the speaker is bowing out of representational politics after several decades. However, Charles Jr’s attempts to replace him in the constituency failed, as the party gave the nod to his fellow senator, Robert Morgan, who is from the area. Morgan is also Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.

From indications, it appears that the compromise of offering Charles Jnr the South East Clarendon seat was reached in an effort to stave off continued feuding between him and Morgan over the North Central Clarendon seat, with Spencer’s resignation being secured to facilitate the overall process.

At age 76, Spencer is a veteran trade unionist who first entered Parliament as a senator in 1993. He entered the lower House in 2002, and has won every election he has contested since.

He is being linked to a move to the Jamaican Embassy in Germany.

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