Fri | Jan 22, 2021

Running scared - Morgan slams PNP’s Duncan Sutherland for skipping Clarendon SE by-election

Published:Thursday | February 6, 2020 | 12:19 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Patricia Duncan Sutherland, PNP caretaker for Clarendon South East.
Patricia Duncan Sutherland, PNP caretaker for Clarendon South East.

People’s National Party (PNP) caretaker Patricia Duncan Sutherland has been criticised for opting out of the March 2 by-election in Clarendon South East after Member of Parliament Rudyard Spencer resigned on Monday.

Robert Nesta Morgan, parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and putative heir in the neighbouring Clarendon’s North Central seat, said that the PNP decision was born out of fear of losing to Pearnel Charles Jr, Spencer’s anointed successor.

Morgan dubbed as “spurious” the PNP’s argument that a by-election need not be called because a national poll was imminent.

“As it relates to the PNP candidate’s fear of going up against Pearnel Charles Jr in a by-election, I’m very fascinated by that decision, as if indeed you’ve been working in a seat for over six years and if you say, as you assert, you’ve made inroads into the strength of the Jamaica Labour Party in that constituency, then logically it would follow that you would jump at the opportunity to sit in the Lower House,” he told The Gleaner yesterday after a Lions Club of Kingston meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.

Morgan cited JLP communications point man Matthew Samuda’s pithy declaration that “there is no route through South East Clarendon for Patricia Duncan Sutherland to end up in the Lower House”.

The government senator, who defended the work of the Government and Spencer in the constituency, said he was confident of a JLP win even if Duncan Sutherland, who is affectionately called Tricia by her supporters, had faced the starter’s gun.

He also took a swipe at Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, who eked out a less than three per cent victory in a party presidential election over challenger Peter Bunting.

“The reality of it is that the current opposition leader is walking on one leg, and if he loses another by-election, he will have no leg to stand on for the general election. I think that is the real story.”

In a statement yesterday, PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said that the people of Jamaica could not reasonably be expected to provide the Electoral Office of Jamaica with tens of millions of dollars to pay for a “contrived” by-election when a national poll, which will cost more than $1 billion, was due in 12 months.

Spencer’s four terms in the seat date back to his election in 2002.