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‘Pack your bags and go’ - Pressure mounting on PNP elders to call it a day

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

There are increasing calls for the People's National Party (PNP) to do some serious house cleaning following its defeat at the polls.

Outspoken political commentator Dr Paul Ashley is among those who have joined the call as he believes some of the more senior party members should now hand over the reins to younger people.

"Age has caught up on a whole lot of them. Some of them must go home. It's as simple as that," Ashley told editors and reporters last Thursday during a Gleaner Editors' forum at the newspaper's North Street headquarters.

"Being a member of parliament is an honourable position and one of national service, and you are supposed to do it for a time. Time has come for a whole heap of them," declared Ashley.

PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, the party's Chairman Robert Pickersgill and its campaign manager, Dr Peter Phillips, are among some of the PNP heavyweights who have served in the Parliament for decades and who are all close to or above the top level of the private-sector retirement age of 65.

According to Ashley, while the nation is grateful for the service they have rendered as political representatives, the time has come for a change. "Make way for the youth. Things have been changing," he said.

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He was supported by prominent attorney Bert Samuels, who believes the nature of the campaign by both political parties during the election suggested that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was much more in tune with technology than the PNP.

"They didn't even have an app to put on the phone like the JLP did," said Samuels.

"They are out of touch. Obama was showing them in their face that this is how I did it. A black man in the United States used technology and surmounted much more than the PNP had to surmount successfully," he said.

Former member of parliament, Maxine Henry-Wilson, who was instrumental in three successful PNP election campaigns, did not join the call for senior members of the party to quit, but made it clear that she has danced her last election dance.

"I am finished with that. I am one of the people who need to be out to make space for the people coming," Henry-Wilson told the forum.