PNP delegates war - NEC members clash over list for September election
The People’s National Party (PNP’s) two-day National Executive Council (NEC) meeting was transformed into a battleground this past weekend as allies of incumbent president Dr Peter Phillips peppered their opponents over the delegates’ list, which has been submitted for the September 7 leadership showdown.
The stage was set on Saturday’s first day of the meeting as supporters of challenger Peter Bunting and some of Phillips’ followers positioned on the corridor leading to the NEC meeting venue at The University of the West Indies, Mona, engaged in testy exchanges.
Yesterday when Phillips entered the venue, he was greeted with chants of “One PNP, One Peter!”, and he responded by punching the air with a clenched fist.
Phillips is running his campaign under the theme ‘One PNP: Powerful Together’ while Bunting has taken on the ‘Rise United’ slogan.
Tempers flared after the leadership of the National Workers’ Union (NWU) was accused by Phillips supporter K.D. Knight of hatching a bogus delegates’ list for the presidential election.
The list, a copy of which has been obtained by The Gleaner, has 64 names, and members of the Phillips camp says that among them are people with no affiliation to the NWU.
But Granville Valentine, NWU president, is insisting that the list can stand up to scrutiny.
Overall, the preliminary delegates’ list presented to the leadership contenders on Friday comprises 2,800 voters.
Knight told The Gleaner yesterday that he would be waiting to hear from the PNP election monitoring committee as to when the One PNP team would have an opportunity to present its case but made it clear that he was taking the matter very seriously.
“I would pursue one delegate,” Knight said.
Yesterday, as the in-fighting continued over the delegates’ list, some NEC members also accused Bunting’s ‘Rise United’ camp of hijacking the delegates’ list presented by the Patriots, the young professional arm of the PNP.
That list comprises nearly 40 delegates.
Also yesterday, Dr Dayton Campbell, the campaign manager for ‘Rise United’, was heckled by supporters of the ‘One PNP’ camp who accused him of being disrespectful to Phillips.
“Some Comrades felt that he should not have called the leader a poppy show,” said one NEC member.
But in response, Campbell said that he did not say that Phillips was a poppy show.
“I made the point to say, ‘Do not allow the people around you to turn you into a poppy show’. I didn’t call him a poppy show. I never would,” Campbell later explained.
The feisty Campbell further told his detractor that he would not be silenced or intimidated as he was a legitimate member of the NEC.
Neither Phillips nor Bunting intervened in the fracas that erupted at the NEC over the delegates’ list.