‘One PNP’ three years in the making - Phillips’ sights set on being prime minister, wants to hand party over to youth
With his eyes sharply focused on sitting in Jamaica House as prime minister in the near future, Dr Peter Phillips is insisting that the People’s National Party (PNP) will not be derailed by the pending leadership challenge as it continues to organise itself to capture at least 10 seats currently held by the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Peter Bunting’s decision to challenge Phillips’ presidency of the political party, or the “disruption”, as some within Phillips’ ‘One PNP Powerful Together’ camp put it, has rubbed them the wrong way.
Not because they consider it undemocratic, they say, but because the opposition party’s machinery has been in the process of rebuilding after its dramatic collapse, losing nearly a dozen seats to the JLP since the 2016 general elections, and they consider the action of the Manchester Central member of Parliament a setback.
Phillips, who officially launched his leadership campaign on Thursday evening at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston, is adamant that the progress he has made at the helm of the 81-year-old party will be protected as it is repositioned to align itself with socially democratic principles.
“Since I became party president two years ago, I have spent my time building the ‘One PNP’ and laying the foundations for victory. Winning begins with a good slate of candidates, winning begins with a good team, and there is no ‘I’ in team,” the PNP president said as he defended his stewardship of the party, which has been brought into question by critics.
“We have recruited a fine team of candidates, a mixture of youth and energy, competence, maturity, and experience, that is what is required for victory.”
Outlining the names of some of the younger candidates the party has installed as caretakers since he took over as president, he continued: “It couldn’t happen overnight. We spent a lot of time beating the bushes to find the right people. There was a time when few people were coming forward.”
Phillips also underscored that under his leadership, the party was flourishing with the injection of youth, which included the renewal of the PNPYO as well as Damion Crawford and Dr Andre Haughton now playing integral roles.
“My mission is to bring the youth, push them forward and make them take control of the future of the party and our country,” stated the East Central St Andrew member of Parliament since 1994, touting that the PNP has never been in a more organised state.
While maintaining that his party was on the road to victory when the next general elections are called, Phillips promised that a government led by him would end squatting, root out corruption, and fix the education system.
“Nuff things a gwaan, and the PNP is on the road to victory. Dancing couldn’t take us so far down this road. It’s real work that will count. We have more work to do, and we will get the job done,” Phillips said, taking a swipe at Bunting, who has stepped up his public relations campaign for the leadership of the party.
The PNP’s special delegates’ conference for the leadership challenge of the party is set for September 7.