Fri | Aug 18, 2017

JLP flays PNP on debate issue

Published:Saturday | February 13, 2016 | 2:31 PMGary Spaulding

Gary Spaulding Senior Gleaner Writer

CAMPAIGN MANAGER of the People’s National Party (PNP) Dr Peter Phillips has been challenged to tackle the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) Audley Shaw in a debate if party president Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller refuses to take on JLP leader Andrew Holness. “If you think you bad, I dare you!” declared Daryl Vaz yesterday.

Phillips, the finance minister, was slated to battle Shaw, the opposition spokesman on finance and former minister. “The PNP enjoyed the moment in 2011 when it was in opposition, so why are they ducking out now that they are in Government since the format has not changed?” asked Vaz, who charged that Phillips was the point man shielding Simpson Miller.

The PNP was yesterday raked over the coals by a scorching lineup from the JLP at a press conference in the aftermath of the PNP’s last-ditch withdrawal from the leadership debates. The JLP brought correspondence from the National Debates Commission to back up its claim that the PNP was engaged in a disingenuous ploy to avoid the debates.

HUGE SURPRISE

JLP Deputy General Secretary Audley Gordon, who represented the party in the debate talks, said that no mention was ever made of the house being built by JLP leader Andrew Holness in the discussions.

“It was a huge surprise to me when I learnt of the about-face of the PNP as up to the 11th of November, we had a signed MOU agreeing for these debates to be held,” he asserted. Matthew Samuda, president of Generation 2000 (G2K), was also scathing.

He described the PNP as the “bastion of unfulfilled promises”. “It is despicable, and even worse, is that the youth of the PNP have had nothing to say, signalling that they are clearly no different from their parent party,” he said. But it was Vaz who was at the vanguard of the firing line at the press conference.

He labelled Phillips as intellectually deceitful and charged that the PNP had turned democracy on its head. He charged that although there are indications that Jamaicans have not been focusing on Holness’ house as a political issue, the PNP has made it a bone of contention in its “feeble” attempt to create a distraction.

ACCOUNTABILITY

“Prime Minister Simpson Miller, lest you forget, you and your Government are accountable to the people of Jamaica at all times,” declared Vaz. He added: “The PNP’s campaign strategy is on polls, crowds, and fluff – no substance – and now, they have added distractions while failing to present a growth plan [or] job creation plans to make people’s lives better.”

Stressing that the debates have become an integral part of the electoral process, another member of the JLP’s campaign team, Kamina Johnson Smith, emphasised that the JLP was registering its outrage on behalf of Jamaicans at the stance adopted by the PNP.