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Comrades call for unity ahead of Saturday's elections

Published:Wednesday | September 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Simpson Miller
Dayton Campbell

Days ahead of this Saturday's internal elections to choose four vice-presidents and, possibly, to return Portia Simpson Miller as People's National Party (PNP) president, Comrades are preaching unity, begging individuals to put aside personal ambitions and rebuild the party in the interest of Jamaica.

Two weeks ago, St Ann North Eastern Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Dayton Campbell promised that he had a special speech to deliver at Simpson Miller's conference, where he was the guest speaker.

He did not disappoint.

The young MP, who recently became the chairman of the party's Region One, lit a political fire on the platform, telling divisive Comrades who he accused of ripping the party apart, to leave.

"All sorts of forces are at play in the PNP and in the country. And I am telling you tonight, Comrades, that this is a fight for the heart and soul of our movement. Let us not lose focus. Let us understand why the PNP was created and what it represents to this country," said Campbell.

He said the PNP represents a conduit through which the poorest class of people in Jamaica can realise their dreams. The founding fathers, he said, recognised that although it is a class alliance, the interest of the masses must dominate, and the PNP must, at all times, know that it represents the average Jamaican.

"I hear some people say there are PNP from the womb to the tomb. But I am telling you tonight, you need a little more than that. You need to indoctrinate yourself with some of the gospel of the PNP ... ," he told Comrades to rapturous applause.

According to him, the rejection of the party in February's general election has given clear direction as to what some so-called Comrades were doing.

"We must use this opportunity to rebrand our party, rebuild our structures, and come together. Let us not reduce our movement to the point where we are forgetting what we are here for.

"Michael (Manley) said if we are not careful, this thing will become about the distribution of scarce benefits and cussing your opponents. That's why mi nuh come here tonight fi talk bout dem people deh. Mi come here tonight fi talk bout PNP," said Campbell, telling the conference that the party had a duty to protect the most disadvantaged in the country.

Campbell, in saluting Simpson Miller and thanking her for the greatest infusion of young people in the party, said the recent issue of the now-abandoned debate (which was neither scheduled nor agreed by the party) was tantamount to "big sound" and "drum pan" clash.

"Maximum respect, Mama P!" said Campbell.

Simpson Miller's speech about the upsurge in murder, and especially its impact on children, elicited knowing glances from some platform attendees, as she repeated the same information three times. Although interrupted by music at intervals during the presentation, it was not immediately clear if her comments on the murders were read from a script.

She read a long list of achievements in decades of representational politics in the constituency of St Andrew South West in response to critics who accuse her of not doing anything or enough for her constituency.