No campaign of vitriol - Peter Bunting campaign raising the bar on civility – Campbell
Rise United, the campaign of People’s National Party (PNP) leadership challenger Peter Bunting, is vowing not to operate from the political gutter, but instead take the discourse around moving the party and the nation forward to a higher level.
Campaign chairman Dr Dayton Campbell told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last Thursday that there would be strong support for either side, and even fierce debates, but there would be no mud-slinging from his side.
“As a physician, we don’t want to create any wounds that we can’t repair. But we are running a campaign, and other than pointing towards the statistics, as in the polls, we don’t have anything else to say about the camp we are up against. Our campaign is about what we plan to do and how we plan to transform the movement and the country,” Campbell told the forum.
“Rise United is something we intend to have after September, where the entire movement will rise, united, to take on the mission of transformative development of the party and society.”
On September 7, at a special delegates’ conference, Bunting will challenge Dr Peter Phillips for presidency of the 81-year-old PNP.
Campbell was at pains to point out that “no member of the Rise United team felt that Dr Phillips was not a good man and has done well in the different ministries in which he has been placed”. However, he said, it was not a fait accompli that the current PNP president is the best person to lead the party to victory in the next general election.
He said that despite Phillips’ efforts, the country was just not responding to him.
Campaign chairman Mark Golding, who is also Bunting’s longtime friend and business associate, said there was no need for acrimony.
‘No need for acrimony’
“They are our friends and our colleagues, and we will embrace them after September 7. There is no need for acrimony and vitriol. And where that happens, it must be shut down immediately,” Golding said as the campaign team addressed Gleaner journalists at the newspaper’s North Street, Kingston, offices.
Meanwhile, Campbell said that the PNP was more reinvigorated than divided by the contest.
Scientific information from polling, Campbell said, showed that with a change in leadership, the party had a better chance of winning at the national polls. However, the PNP, under Portia Simpson Miller, narrowly lost the 2007 general election a year after she became president.
Campbell said that Rise United was echoing the views of the people as the majority of the persons in the party and country were supportive of the campaign.
“I trust the delegates to make the right decision because they are not persons who come from Mars. They know what is happening, and they know what the conversation is. A political party’s purpose and mission is to secure an electoral victory,” Campbell said.
“So it’s people versus the hierarchy, the establishment, and they are clamouring for change. Currently, the PNP wants to see a PNP separate from the Jamaica Labour Party, and right now, they are not seeing much difference.”