Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Eyes on the prize! - Hanna, Arscott avoiding internal squabbles as they aim for PNP vice-president posts

Published:Sunday | September 11, 2016 | 9:00 AMErica Virtue

Lisa Hanna has vowed to keep her energy focused on Saturday's election of four vice-presidents from a slate of five candidates, while avoiding the internal wrangling now rocking the People's National Party (PNP)

The former PNP regional chair last week told The Sunday Gleaner that she will not be sidetracked by anything that is not in the interest of the party.

"I am focused on the vice-presidential elections. I am focused on rebuilding of the party. I am focused on

the implementation of the recommendations contained in the appraisal report led by Julian Robinson, and once that is over I will focus on the campaign for the local government elections," said Hanna.

While shying away from detailed comments on the campaign-finance scandal now rocking the party, Hanna admitted that the allegations are cause for concern.

"Like every Comrade, I am concerned about what is going on. But I await the outcome of the investigations that are under way," said Hanna, as she moved quickly from the issue that has captured the interest of Jamaicans for weeks.

"I want to focus on my campaign, and I will say that I am comfortable. I am comfortable with my chances. I have been meeting with the delegates and I am making my pitch to them. The delegates are the ones who vote and they are the ones I have met with and we talk about the issues," added Hanna.

Hanna focused

Campaigning on a platform to 'Ignite, Energise and Inspire,' Hanna said she shares the views of the delegates and supporters that the PNP remains the best chance of hope for many, and still has core values on which the party can build.

"Between now and Saturday, I am working on the logistics, not looking left or right, just focused on bursting through that tape," said Hanna, as she argued that there were too many individuals expending negative energies in the party.

"I do not allow myself to be bothered by political knives. You take the issues one by one and you deal with them systematically. I do not believe in tearing people down, and I believe this party is still the best party to move this country forward."

According to Hanna, if she is not one of the four given the nod by the delegates, the show will still go on.

"I won't give up on what I want for the party. The same things I want to do as vice-president, I will work with the party to pursue them because my goal for the movement is for us to win the local government elections and then the general election, and at the same time, fixing the things that need to be fixed as an entity going forward.

"It's not the position that I strive for ... I want the position to be the voice of the ordinary Comrades at the officer table. I am thrilled to go into a classroom to see a roomful of party workers hungry for knowledge. That's why I do this for the betterment of the lives of the ordinary people," said Hanna.

Arscott says 'choose me'

In the meantime, Noel Arscott is asking delegates to choose him as one of the four vice-presidents, "because, now more than ever, there is much more work to be done".

Arscott, who has served as a PNP vice-president since 2008, is a strong supporter of the party's president Portia Simpson Miller, and has made no attempt to hide the fact that he believed he was elected on the tide that allowed her to defeat Dr Peter Phillips in the presidential election of that year.

"I supported the leader in that 2008 challenge. But I was not elected just because I supported Portia, because I got delegate support from all regions," said Arscott.

"I did not run because I wanted to become vice-president and then leader. I was not plotting any path to the top. There is a need to maintain a political organisation so that the party can be strengthened. And that is my mission, to build the organisation, bring new members to the party and develop the people," added Arscott, as he appealed to the delegates for their support.

"I think I have been out there working with the people, where I have maintained an open-door policy where individuals always have access. I try to engage the people, always listening to them, learning from them. This is how the renewal process begins through thought, sifting through the ideas, putting them into policy where possible, for the greater good," he explained.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com