JLP pushing to install Tufton
There are indications that the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is engaged in a push to fast-track an internal process to install Dr Christopher Tufton as its candidate in the troubled St Catherine West Central constituency.
With the nation on edge and the secretariat of the People's National Party (PNP) signalling that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is set to announce the date of the impending election, the JLP is being forced to move with dispatch to appease disgruntled supporters who want nothing to do with Tufton.
JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang told The Gleaner late yesterday that his party's secretariat met on Monday with constituents of West Central St Catherine.
"We have met with the leadership of West Central St Catherine and have indicated a process that would take place for the way forward," said Chang.
He said this includes declaring the seat vacant and then identifying a candidate.
Chang told The Gleaner that constituents with whom he met were accepting of the proposal.
"It will be done quickly, but we have to follow due process," he said. "We will go through a process and ensure that it fits within a deadline."
When asked how likely it is that Tufton would be the next standard-bearer for the JLP in St Catherine West Central, Chang said: "I don't want to anticipate that."
But well-placed party insiders told The Gleaner that the way is being paved for the eleventh-hour instalment of Tufton by the party leadership.
It has been a week since the party leadership announced that Devon Wint was removed as the prospective JLP candidate for the next general election.
A long-standing councillor for the Point Hill division in the constituency, Wint had narrowly defeated Tufton in a September run-off for the right to represent the JLP.
But while Chang insisted yesterday that Wint was not removed to facilitate Tufton's return to the House of Representatives, he declined to elaborate.
Over the last four years, Tufton has had a series of rocky experiences in the JLP.
After losing the St Elizabeth South West seat he held for a term by a mere 13 votes to PNP newcomer Hugh Buchanan, Tufton was appointed a senator.
However, after supporting Audley Shaw's leadership challenge to the JLP's Andrew Holness, he was thrown out of the Upper House courtesy of an undated, pre-signed resignation letter, but a court ruling returned him to complete his tenure.
He has since been making bids to return to representational politics but his efforts have been thwarted.
Tufton's entry into West Central St Catherine threw the constituency into turmoil, with some JLP supporters resisting his advance.