Dayton Campbell flays prospects of party leader with 31-vote majority
Dr Dayton Campbell
Former firebrand People's National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament (MP) for North West St Ann, Dr Dayton Campbell, is adamant that an individual who won her constituency by a majority of only 31 votes, cannot adequately offer support to defeated candidates in future elections should the person become the party’s leader.
Campbell, who is backing PNP presidential aspirant, Mark Golding, in the lead-up to the November 7 internal poll, suggested that the individual should instead focus on rebuilding her constituency.
The two-term MP did not actually name the individual, but his outline pointed directly at Golding's competitor, Lisa Hanna, who is the parliamentary representative for South East St Ann.
Hanna was declared winner of that seat by a margin of 31 votes after a magisterial recount that was requested by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate, Delroy Granston.
In a live video posted on his Facebook page on Saturday night, Campbell, who was speaking at a Mark Golding campaign meeting, said when he won North West St Ann by under 500 votes in the 2016 General Elections, he was told that he would not win the next time around.
"When I won the election the last time (in North West St Ann), we won by 450 votes. And from the day I win the election, some people - PNP tuh enuh - say mi can't win it back because the margin too small.
"Now it look like them did right because we actually never win it back," he expressively outlined.
Campbell was defeated by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate, Krystal Lee, in the September 3 General Elections.
He went on to point out that despite winning with under 500 votes in 2016, he was still expected to rebuild the constituency.
"However, the point is that in their minds they thought that if your margin is below 500, you need to go in the constituency PD (polling division) by PD, (electoral) division by division, and rebuild the structures (within your constituency)," he stated.
In continuing, the firebrand Comrade said: "To my surprise... I am now hearing persons say that somebody who won by 31 votes can be the leader of the party, to move around the country fi guh help mi inna my constituency in order fi win it back.
"Fi guh help unnu over here so inna East Central fi win it back, fi go help ova South East fi go win it back. Nobody who wins by 31 (votes) can leave their seats to go and do that. Every single one of us in this room know that," he contended.
"If your margin is like that, you need to go back in your constituency and rebuild that constituency..." he told the audience, several of whom applauded him.
But despite her meagre victory margin in the September 3 General Elections, Hanna shortly after announcing her leadership bid, declared that "not only am I the person (who) can lead the party to regain the confidence of all our people, but the woman (who) will."
She also said since the September 3 polls, she had been active with her councillor candidates in her constituency.
"The people of SESA (South East St Ann) and I are committed to working together in building bridges and improving our foundation. This I believe may serve as a catalyst in improving and transforming the party, as I must lead by example," she stated then in a release.
Despite those assertions from Hanna, Campbell was adamant that someone such as Mark Golding with wider margin of victory in his constituency is better suited to lead the Opposition PNP.
"And that is the reason why somebody now who won by a margin of 6,000 (votes) will be able to get up and come down to my seat to walk with mi inna my seat so that mi can go back inna Parliament because mi a 37(-year-old)," quipping that "Mi nuh want nobody call mi father MP. Mi too young fi that!"
He added that "I don't understand what is taking place in the PNP because we normally reason out things, but... because we want to support someone, wi throw wi reason aside some of the time."
"If we are using logics to make this decision, this decision is easy. You're voting for somebody who can unite the party. You're voting for somebody who believes in organisation, somebody who is connected to the society who can raise money, and who has done it before for the People's National Party, and somebody who has the margin in their seat so they can leave their constituency and go to the more vulnerable ones to go to the weaker ones to shore up that base so that the PNP can win back those seats and form Government," Campbell further argued.
"I highly recommend to you Comrade Mark Golding as the next leader of the People's National Party," he concluded to loud cheers from members of the audience.
The developments in the PNP follow the party's bruising defeat to the JLP in the September 3 polls, in which the JLP claimed 49 seats to the PNP's 14.
A day later, PNP President and Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, announced his intention to resign from both positions, fulfilling a promise he made on Election Day, to go if he lost at the polls.
Phillips is to remain in both positions until the conclusion of the party's internal presidential race.