Sat | Jun 24, 2017

Christopher 'tuffing it out'

Published:Tuesday | September 29, 2015 | 9:00 AMDaraine Luton
Christopher Tufton

Dr Christopher Tufton says he is not yet ready to leave politics despite seeing his latest attempt to get back to the House of Representatives blocked by delegates on Saturday.

"That issue does not arise at this point in time for me. One always has to assess one's future when one encounters this kind of scenario," Tufton, an opposition senator, told The Gleaner yesterday.

"My ambition is to serve."

Having been elected to Parliament in 2007, Tufton set about building a national profile as part of what political commentators said was preparation for 'prime ministership'.

But a shock electoral defeat in 2011 caused grave damage to his foundation, which was further compromised by Saturday's internal loss.

Tufton is alleging that operatives in the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) unfairly organised against him and eventually caused him to lose Saturday's internal race to represent West Central St Catherine on the party's ticket in the next general election.

Tufton, a former agriculture minister, who fled the marginal constituency of South West St Elizabeth after been unseated by Hugh Buchanan in 2011, was in search of safer territory and had headed to the West Central St Catherine seat, from which Dr Ken Baugh is retiring as the JLP standard bearer.

On Saturday, Devon Wint, the councillor for the Point Hill division and Baugh's deputy, beat Tufton by 15 votes in a race to decide who should represent the JLP.

"I am still committed to giving service," said Tufton, who was once considered a rising star in Jamaican politics and possible JLP leader.

But having opposed JLP Leader Andrew Holness in a bitter leadership challenge which saw him backing Audley Shaw's unsuccessful attempt to take the top job, Tufton, while being guarded, says he may have suffered the residue of that race.

"I don't want to say it is overwhelming, but it certainly played a part," he said.

Official complaint

Tufton said he felt the party should not sign off on Wint, at least not yet.

"We will be filing an official complaint to the party," Tufton said, while charging that there were "significant resources used to influence votes" as well as problems with the voters' list and a breach of electoral guidelines.

He said he had received credible reports of "crude, vulgar" vote buying in the race.

"We are going to lodge the concerns and ask for a discussion around the issue. How far we take it is a function of the discussion with the secretariat," Tufton said.

"I am not saying it is going to end up in my favour, in terms of me being the candidate, but I think it is sufficient to allow the concerns of the general workers to be discussed and for them to be satisfied things went the way they should have gone. I am prepared to accept any result, once we are all comfortable of that," Tufton said.

"We were at a disadvantage from the start, but we felt we could have overcome it by the support on the ground," he added.

Tufton claimed that Baugh, despite indicating he would not have got involved in the race, campaigned actively for Wint.

"His weight behind Wint carried some mileage because of his long-term relationship with the constituency, " Tufton said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com