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VIDEO: Turmoil at PNP HQ - Pryce supporters flock Old Hope Road, demand Redman's removal

Published:Tuesday | January 12, 2016 | 1:00 AMGary Spaulding
Julian Robinson, People’s National Party deputy general secretary, attempts to bring order among supporters of Raymond Pryce, who journeyed from North East St Elizabeth to the party’s St Andrew headquarters yesterday. The supporters were calling for Raymond Pryce to remain as candidate.
Supporters of Raymond Pryce who journeyed from North East St Elizabeth to PNP headquarters yesterday.
Richard Gray, a supporter of Raymond Pryce, who journeyed from North East St Elizabeth to the People's National Party's Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters yesterday.
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A stalwart of the People's National Party (PNP) lamented yesterday that Norman Manley, the founder of the organisation, and his son, Michael, were "turning in their graves at National Heroes Park" as the party's Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters nearby teemed with remonstrating supporters.

The declaration came from Heather Robinson as the supporters who travelled all the way from North East St Elizabeth to back Raymond Pryce, their member of parliament, came away from the long outing disappointed.

As a contingent of police personnel kept watch, some supporters told The Gleaner that they came to see not only their political representative but PNP President Portia Simpson Miller in order to broker a long-overdue deal.

But this was not to be.

The embattled parliamentarian was nowhere to be seen, even as word emerged that he was not party to a release issued last week indicating that he had endorsed Redman.

 

FIRMSTANCE

Well-placed insiders told The Gleaner that the leadership of the party would not be recanting its decision to install Evon Redman as the candidate in the upcoming general election and that the supporters would be so advised.

While Pryce was not in or around the PNP headquarters during the early hours of the demonstration, Simpson Miller was presiding over the weekly Cabinet meeting at Jamaica House.

PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, General Secretary Paul Burke, the vice-presidents and Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson were present at the headquarters.

Pryce's initial absence sparked a debate among some of his loyalists, while others complained that Simpson Miller was too silent and absent once again - even as the executive corps of the PNP signalled that they were bracing for a showdown.

"I had expected that the honourable prime minister would have come and addressed our delegates from the constituency," said Richard Gray, one of the supporters who were bussed into Kingston.

"I can't say that I feel good about that (her absence)," he added. "It's getting late, but it's better late than never."

Gray said that if Pryce was not returned, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was likely to win the seat as the Pryce loyalists would be staying away from the voting booths.

"We will not be voting for anyone else," he declared.

But late yesterday, Pickersgill maintained that Redman would not be removed.

As they rolled into the PNP headquarters, the buses were marshalled through a designated gate and into the parking area, after which Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson greeted the throng.

Robinson led 10 representatives, selected by the supporters, into the meeting room of the PNP headquarters, while those remaining were led to the rear of the premises.

Some chanted "No Redman!" as the buses entered the headquarters about 1:15 in the afternoon.

Gray, who came to the perimeter fencing to speak with The Gleaner, warned that there would be no turning back.

 

PRYCE DETRACTORS

"The bottom line for me and most of the people is first and foremost, Raymond Pryce is a bright, intelligent man," he said.

He charged that Pryce's detractors were opposed to the MP's stance against pork-barrel politics.

"They are against him because he is not into handouts, politics shouldn't be like that."

Added Gray: "If you come to represent and are good for the people, not one who gives $1,000 today and next week you don't see him again ... the bottom line is handout. What he does in his personal life is his business."

Continued Gray: "Why are you throwing him away now? Let the man do his work."

In contrast, he claimed to have heard of Redman's interest in the seat only recently.

"I understand that he was there since the days of Sydney Pagon, Roger Clarke and Kern Spencer," he said.

"If he was interested in the people of North East St Elizabeth, why didn't he grab the many opportunities to represent the people?" he added.

Gray told The Gleaner that it was unfair for the leadership of the party to install Pryce for only one electoral term.

"For four years, the people embraced who came to us. Why are you pushing him away now?"

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com