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Silly supporters

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Silly supporters

PNP presidential candidates reject backers involved in mud-slinging

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 05, 2020

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PEOPLE’S National Party (PNP) presidential candidates Mark Golding and Lisa Hanna have moved to distance themselves from purported supporters who have been spewing bile in the lead-up to Saturday’s election.

Head of the committee established to monitor conduct during the campaign, attorney-at-law Norman Minott, yesterday told journalists that while he was satisfied with the behaviour of both candidates and the leadership of their teams so far, he was disappointed with the utterances of some of their supporters.

“We have received… some complaints that we have had to deal with. I would say, by-and-large however, that the manner in which both campaigns have dealt with the whole process of staying in line with the Code of Conduct is quite admirable,” said Minott.

“There are some fringe persons, I would call them, who have become a little bit too enthusiastic and we are dealing with that,” he added.

He said while the committee is satisfied that the candidates have done a good job of adhering to the code, which they signed, there have been occasions when his team has had conversations with members of both teams about the conduct of their supporters.

“But it is not many, and I would say that the response we have got from those persons was quite positive. It seems to me that there is a serious understanding from both campaigns that this is not the time for conflict… and that the party needs to move together as one,” said Minott.

Golding later underscored that he and Hanna had always worked well together and are close friends who would work together no matter the result on Saturday.

According to Golding, the problem of persons going over the top during campaigns has been an issued faced by the party for some time.

“And the way we have been dealing with that is to reach out to them when it’s brought to our attention that they have gone too far with what they have said and to try to ask them to take it down or retract it,” said Golding.

“Generally speaking, going forward we have to build a culture of respect for each other in how we discuss issues and also a need for discipline in how we present ourselves to the wider public,” he added.

Hanna was equally forthright as she argued that in previous internal elections she has seen how vitriolic people can get as they behave in a manner that is not “Comrade-like”.

“Some of them might not even be supporters of either side but just create accounts on social media in particular to denigrate, eviscerate and bludgeon people’s identities and their families,” charged Hanna.

“It is a problem, and while you cannot identify ghosts in the dark who throw arrows at you, certainly in the way forward that I have presented, if I become party leader, is to make sure that members of the party understand that by damaging the brand of the PNP, you are eroding the trust of electorate,” she added.

According to Hanna, some of what has been written during this campaign has not been easy for her family to look at and she is sure that it is the same for Golding’s family members.

“But going forward there has to be sanctions, especially for members who you can identify, who willingly go into the media and decide to discredit any candidate without proof,” declared Hanna as she argued that there has been an erosion of Jamaica’s value system and this cannot be accepted in the PNP.

The two candidates were responding to questions from members of the media after they signed an agreement governing their behaviour after the presidential election.

The agreement, which is in addition to the Code of Conduct they already signed, was reportedly drafted by “party elders” to preserve unity after the election.

Among the terms of the latest agreement is that whoever wins will work to facilitate the healing of the PNP and to ensure that all resources of the party and its members, “will be deployed on the basis of talent, without discrimination or factional favouritism”.

The two candidates also agreed to, “accept that unity of purpose is an imperative which, regardless of the leadership race will require the full engagement of us both, and to that end we commit ourselves to give of our time and skills in whatever office or position which the rebuilding of the party may require”.

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