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Picking on Portia - Simpson Miller is to PNP as Bolt is to track, says Arscott

Published:Thursday | September 1, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
In this 2006 photo, PNP president Portia Simpson Miller (centre) collects the baton from former PNP president P.J. Patterson (left) and prepares to hand it off to the party’s chairman, Robert Pickersgill.

With more and more senior members of the People's National Party (PNP) seemingly lining up behind Portia Simpson Miller in her bid to stave off a challenge from Dr Karl Blythe for the party's top job, Noel Arscott has added his name to the list of those on whom she can depend.

Arscott, who is in a battle of his own to retain one of the party's four vice-president slots, says those calling for Simpson Miller to go are guilty of "political back-stabbing."

According to Arscott, some "power-hungry" people are hell-bent on committing political suicide.

"I am baffled by a lot of the damaging action of some of the individuals in the PNP. If you are a manufacturer, you identify your bestselling product, protect it, market it and preserve it," Arscott told The Sunday Gleaner.

"In the PNP right now, there is nobody with the marketing skills of Portia Simpson Miller. No one comes even close. And even when she leaves the scene, you are going to need her to campaign on behalf of the party. So the people calling for her head, for her to leave before time, are short-sighted. Blind, if you ask me," added Arscott.


Grave danger


According to Arscott, the PNP would be in grave danger if Simpson Miller were to leave now.

"It's the same question we are asking: who is going to replace Usain Bolt? We are at that stage. The party has been used to leaders who endear themselves to the people. So no one is going to live forever. And Portia is not going to remain leader forever. And no doubt, a new leader will emerge," declared Arscott.

He said the renewal of the PNP is written in its constitution, and that renewal continues, and hence the annual meetings, the changing or retention of constituency and divisional executives and members of the NEC.

The sitting member of parliament for South West Clarendon said he is baffled by the calls for renewal, which must happen.

"I am not part and parcel of anything like that," he declared. "There were too many mischief-makers in the party whose actions are buoyed by the advent of social media."

Arscott said it was easy for individuals to use social media to make mischief, which was damaging to the party's image.

He charged that among those clamouring for power in the PNP were some losing first-time MPs who lost because they did very little political work.

Arscott's comments came days before Simpson Miller's backers released claims that she had received overwhelming endorsements from the regional leadership and the arms and affiliates of leadership of the party.


Specially arranged


According to the backers, in a specially arranged conversation with the leadership and arms and affiliates of the PNP last week, glowing endorsements where given to Simpson Miller.

"Leaders of the six regions that make up the 78-year-old political organisation pledged their full support for the distinguished Comrade who has served the PNP for over 40 years," said the release.

"Representatives of the National Workers' Union, the PNP Women's Movement and the PNP Youth Organisation also voiced their support for Simpson Miller. Michael Stewart, member of parliament for South Manchester, and Senator Floyd Morris spoke on behalf of the PNP Parliamentary Group and unequivocally voiced their support for the president of the PNP. Mayor Scean Barnswell also gave a strong endorsement on behalf of the members of the Caucus of PNP Councillors," the release added.

Approximately 3,500 delegates will cast their votes for the PNP president and four vice-presidents on Saturday.