Fri | Jun 5, 2020

PNP, JLP ready to cross swords as Spencer bids goodbye

Published:Wednesday | February 5, 2020 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
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Hours before Rudyard Spencer announced his resignation as member of parliament for Clarendon South East last night, canvassers for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) expressed confidence about the readiness of their teams ahead of a general election constitutionally due by 2021.

Arthur Coleman, vice-chairman and supervisor for the Rocky Point cluster, said that the key concern for Labourites there was to organise a smooth transition to heir apparent Pearnel Charles Jr and assuage loyalists who wanted Spencer to remain in representational politics.

Coleman said his team was pounding the pavement, armed with the voters’ list. He told The Gleaner he knew exactly who to target and was engaged in drumming up support for “the new man”.

“He is the man I am rooting for because he is a man that I can rely on. He delivers,” said Coleman, referring to Charles, the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. Charles was parachuted into South East after attempts to install him as successor to his father, in Clarendon North Central, were rebuffed.

Coleman believes that the Rocky Point division – which incorporates a section of Lionel Town, Portland Cottage, Mitchell Town, and Water Lane – will carry convincing support if Charles runs in a by-election or national poll. Rocky Point carried home the bacon for Spencer in the 2016 general election by 3,177 votes to PNP caretaker Patricia Duncan Sutherland’s 2,401.

Spencer won the seat by just under 1,000 votes.

RECRUITING EFFORTS

The cluster vice-chairman said that his supervisors from the respective communities have reported that they are seeking to recruit more outdoor agents in the run-up to the polls.

Hugh Masters, who canvasses for the Lionel Town cluster, said he could record success in winning over people “from the other side” and described the support as “solid”.

However, ground troops for Duncan Sutherland said that the JLP will have a rude awakening.

Basil Goldson, assistant constituency organiser with responsibility for enumeration and canvassing, told The Gleaner that the constituents of Clarendon South East were concerned about infrastructural decay and a deficit in opportunities.

“No development, no moving forward. Instead of moving forward, we are going backyard,” he said. “So what we have decided now, Tricia (Duncan Sutherland) has lost the election to Mr Spencer and she is here as if she is the member of parliament,” he said, adding that he firmly believed she would double the votes in victory.

Goldson said that he was personally aware of disheartened Labourites who were planning to switch allegiance.

“Portland Cottage was a JLP stronghold, and they have decided that they are tired of this foolishness ... . Monymusk was allowed to be closed down,” he said, referring to the shuttering of the sugar estate that had been divested to Chinese outfit Pan Caribbean Sugar Company.

“I am confident 110 per cent this is Tricia’s seat. We are in election mode – not preparation – ‘cause we expect it and we are raring to go,” he said.

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