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Pryce raps PNP - MP suggests party 'tricked' youths ahead of 2011 election

Published:Monday | July 20, 2015 | 7:00 AM

Raymond Pryce, the People's National Party (PNP) deputy general secretary and one of several parliamentarians fighting to hold on to their constituencies, has taken a swing at his party for what he has suggested is a move to replace some of its young incumbents four years after enlisting their support to win state power.

Pryce was addressing the People's National Party Youth Organisation's (PNPYO) biennial congress in Ocho Rios on the weekend when he observed what he described as the tame and laid-back attitude of the meeting and questioned the reason for it.

"Is it because you are naturally laid-back, this batch of [PNP]YO leaders and supporters? And I am going to be just a little bit controversial, or could it be that you, the youths of the People's National Party, are at a crossroads in your mind, wondering if the organisation depends on you for numbers to win elections?" he questioned.

The member of parliament for St Elizabeth North East did not stop there, raising questions about whether the PNP selected him and other young persons as its representatives in the 2011 general election because the Jamaica Labour Party had unanimously selected as leader the youthful Andrew Holness, then 39, to replace Bruce Golding.

"I am wondering if you are concerned that the People's National Party played a trick on you, because it was only after that switch [from Golding to Holness] that Damion Crawford became a candidate, that Dayton Campbell became a candidate, that Hugh Buchanan became a candidate, that Raymond Pryce became a candidate, that Jolyan Silvera became a candidate, that André Hylton became a candidate, that Winston Green became a candidate, and I could go on," he said to loud applause.

"I am wondering if you are laid-back because in 2011, when there was a switch from Bruce Golding to Andrew Holness and there was an argument that it was time for young people and for leaders who were born after 1962," Pryce continued.

Crawford, who is also the junior minister for tourism and entertainment, told The Gleaner yesterday he had "no doubt" that the 'young-people-time' argument that was being bandied about in 2011 made him and others more "likely and viable candidates".

However, Crawford said he did not feel tricked, because he went in with the understanding that it was the pro-youth wave "that was carrying myself and others".

"I have no remorse or reservation in accepting that I only, or most likely, got an opportunity because Mr Holness was selected to lead the JLP," Crawford said.

"If I was to feel tricked, it would have been that they would have told me something else. They didn't tell me anything," he underscored.

Buchanan, who is also being challenged for his St Elizabeth South West constituency, did not share Pryce's view, explaining that he was selected as the PNP standard-bearer in 2011 under different circumstances.

According to him, the PNP sent out an open invitation to members interested in contesting the seat and he was the only one who believed the party had a winning chance.

"So it could not be a case that the party used me because there was no one else who wanted to go forward," he underscored.

Pryce, in his address at the PNPYO meeting, also questioned whether young Comrades believe they were "tricked" in the March 2012 local government elections when, according to him, the PNP selected the "most young people as councillor candidates".

"And I am wondering if some of you are confused as to whether or not it is the same People's National Party, in 2015, that is replacing, changing, moving out, removing, sidelining [or] retiring all of the under-40s ... so if you are sitting down there a little upset, then I can't blame you. No music will correct that," he said.

"I am going to ask you, as I have been asking myself over the last few months, is this People's National Party the same People's National Party that said 'we care for the development of youth'?" the first-term MP questioned.

See commentary by Raymond Pryce on Joan Gordon-Webley's PNP membership.