Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Bell tolls as Douglas dumps PNP

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:19 AMRomario Scott and Nickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writers
Trafalgar division Councillor Kari Douglas.
Trafalgar division Councillor Kari Douglas.

The People’s National Party (PNP) continues to haemorrhage from internal squabbles, with Kari Douglas, the firebrand councillor for the Trafalgar division, firing a parting shot yesterday at the party leadership as she announced that she was switching political allegiance.

Douglas, who The Gleaner understands has been waging war with several influential figures in the PNP, including General Secretary Julian Robinson, who also serves as member of parliament for South East St Andrew, where the Trafalgar division is located.

Gleaner sources say the relationship turned sour months ago when Douglas felt that she was being disrespected in her division by members of the party’s hierarchy.

Douglas, who had backed losing presidential aspirant for the PNP leadership back in September, Peter Bunting, said she has had enough of the Comrades.

According to Douglas, for some time, the PNP has not been a space where creative ideas, especially from young people, were encouraged and treated with seriously.

Douglas said, too, that making the transition across the political aisle was not an easy decision.

“For some time, I have been deeply concerned that my former party has become a political organisation which is primarily focused on winning elections at any cost, as opposed to pursuing an unswerving commitment to national development and, in that process, listening to the people and creating policies to meet their needs.

The JLP now has 22 seats in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, and the PNP’s minority caucus has been reduced to 18.

The Gleaner understands that the PNP is about to announce that Jesse Clarke will be its standard-bearer in the Trafalgar division.

According to Gleaner sources, Clarke has already been interviewed by the party’s integrity commission and other PNP functionaries.

Douglas’ decision to resign from the PNP has sent ripples throughout the party and comes days after Keisha Hayle, who also backed Bunting and was booted from the PNP’s St Andrew North West chairmanship, blasted party President Dr Peter Phillips for choosing not to contest a by-election in Clarendon South East.

Douglas revealed at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation yesterday that she was moving to join the JLP because she believed that Prime Minister Andrew Holness had a refreshing approach to politics.

“There are many people across Jamaica, especially young people who have had a reawakening of their political views due to the prime minister ... . I am one of the many who have had to decisively rethink past political ideologies and affiliation,” Douglas asserted.

“Today I am happy to announce that I have made a decision in the interest of my country,” she added.

There was a mixture of celebration and shock at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the KSAMC when Douglas announced her intention.

“I would like to formally advise of my intention to cross the political aisle this morning, Your Worship.

“I have two letters to inform both yourself and the CEO of the council of this intention,” Douglas said to rousing of applause from Jamaica Labour Party councillors and Juliet Holness, member of parliament for St Andrew East Rural, who was on a special visit to the council.

But in the midst of the excitement, PNP councillors mostly remained silent, seemingly blindsided by the announcement by Douglas, whose late father, Easton Douglas, was a stalwart for her now-former party.

“What?!” echoed through the ranks of the PNP when the announcement was made, while JLP councillors shouted, “Welcome!”, subsequently breaking out in a song, bellowing the JLP anthem before Douglas took her seat next Andrew Bellamy, councillor for the Mona division.