Comrade laments lack of momentum for PNP

Comrade laments lack of momentum for PNP

Former MoBay deputy mayor says party needs to identify key issues that will move voters

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-large
Western Bureau
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 24, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Gerard Mitchell, a former deputy mayor of Montego Bay, has a message for his People’s National Party (PNP) for it to snatch victory from the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the September 3 General Election.

“The party [PNP] needs to identify some key issues that are going to move the voters. It has not done that up to now, and it’s not too late to do that, so really, I hope that they have something in the bag that they will come up with after today,” Mitchell told the Jamaica Observer on Nomination Day last Tuesday.

Mitchell, who served as PNP councillor for the Mount Salem Division in the then St James Parish Council from 1998 to 2007, pointed out that there is no drive with the Opposition PNP at this time, due mainly to the popularity of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader and Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

“The momentum is not with the PNP and it probably has to do with leadership… the PNP was there [in power] for 18 years and people still believe that they want to see a younger person in leadership, and that’s why so many people are gravitating to him [Holness]. It’s not because he is good, it’s just because of age, people prefer to see a younger person…,” said Mitchell, who was among a number of retired St James politicians, including former two-term PNP Member of Parliament for St James West Central Arthur Nelson and former Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris, who came out on Nomination Day to support Andre Haughton, the party’s candidate in the St James West Central constituency.

The constituency, which is commonly referred to as a swing seat, was last won by the JLP’s Marlene Malahoo Forte who defeated the PNP’s Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams by 1,261 votes in the 2016 General Election.

Some local political observers believe that it could prove difficult for newcomer Haughton to unseat the incumbent.

Mitchell disagrees.

“It is not as difficult as people make it out to be. I think that it can be won, it is still not too late to put in some work and at the end of the day, any number can play,” he argued.

“It is borderline, but I really don’t think the people in the constituency have seen enough of the worth and work on the incumbent to give her the necessary support. She is not visible in the constituency, and she has not made any mark in the constituency.”

The 86-year-old Nelson said Malahoo Forte has a “bad name” in many areas of the constituency including places like Irwin.

“The selfishness in satisfying the party comes out in how she operates,” Nelson stressed.

But Malahoo Forte has defended her stewardship of the seat, brushing aside critics who claim she is not visible in the constituency, as she vowed to retain it for her ruling party.

“Detractors will always say things. I have been here in the constituency working. I really don’t business with detractors [as] detractors intend on diverting attention away from what you really want to focus on,” she told the Observer after she was nominated at Catherine Hall Primary School last Tuesday.

“The work that I have done is for everyone to see. It has been an amazing journey and it will continue,” she stressed.

She cited the rehabilitation of 48 roads across the constituency, which she claimed is a record for any single term, as well as a significant increase in the supply of potable water and financial assistance to hundreds of students.

“But more importantly, the seat has never looked this good. People have seen the marked difference that I have made to their lives and, in spite of that, I will be doing much more,” said Malahoo-Forte.

Meanwhile Haughton, a native of the constituency and who has been working in the seat for almost two years, expressed confidence in getting the nod of the electors.

“The seat has been swinging, but for me, I don’t think it is going to be difficult [to win] because we have been preparing for this election… victory is not an outcome, victory is an event, and we have been participating in that event since I joined politics over a year and a half ago,” he argued.

“We are focused on winning the seat, the people are hopeful about what they are about to see; they want to see positive economic change, they want to see upliftment and they have been studying my movements and have realised what I am doing, and they know my utterances are not just talk, they are real substance for the country to move forward,” he said.

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