Mon | Jul 13, 2020

JLP supporters back by-election call in Clarendon SE

Published:Thursday | February 6, 2020 | 12:22 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters in Clarendon South East are convinced that Prime Minister Andrew Holness did the right thing in calling a by-election following the resignation of Member of Parliament Rudyard Spencer.

Holness announced yesterday that nomination day would be on February 12 and the by-election on March 2.

The JLP will install Pearnel Charles Jr as its candidate. He currently serves as a senator and government minister and would have to resign from those posts before nomination day to contest the seat.

His exit from the Senate would also mean that a vacant seat from that chamber would be in the Cabinet, needed to be filled for the administration to fulfil its constitutional obligations.

Holness in a statement said it was his duty to ensure the proper functioning of the Government, “which includes keeping the parliamentary majority intact”.

Claudia Forbes, a long-time delegate in Clarendon South East, told The Gleaner by phone last night that it would have been a prime opportunity to test the political waters had People’s National Party caretaker Patricia Duncan Sutherland contested the seat.

The PNP indicated yesterday that it would be skipping the by-election.

“Let me tell you. Is the right thing him do. We down here support him 100 per cent and we ready fi the road,” Forbes said.

CAUGHT FLAT-FOOTED

PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson contends that Spencer’s resignation has not been occasioned by any personal or national emergency, but was contrived to quell a internal row between Charles Jr and Robert Morgan who both had sights on being the successor to Pearnel Charles Sr in Clarendon North Central.

Robinson argued that the people of Jamaica could not, therefore, reasonably be expected to provide the Electoral Office of Jamaica with tens of millions of dollars to fund a by-election when a national poll was imminent.

But Winston Simpson, a senior organiser of the JLP in Clarendon South East, said that the PNP had taken that position because it was caught flat-footed.

“Politics is bloodsport and you must always ready. The PNP have no chat in this. No excuse!” Simpson asserted.

Of the 11 contested parliamentary general elections from 1959 to 2016, the JLP has won Clarendon South East nine times compared to two for the PNP.

Clarendon South East, which evolved from the former constituency of Clarendon Southern, has a unique history in that it produced two prime ministers – Sir Alexander Bustamante and Hugh Shearer.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com