Thu | Oct 1, 2020

JLP could create upset in Westmoreland, Samuda declares

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2020 | 12:20 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Matthew Samuda: Look out for an election upset in Westmoreland.
Matthew Samuda: Look out for an election upset in Westmoreland.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ national popularity could help the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) create a political upset by snatching at least one seat in Westmoreland, a parish that has long been a People’s National Party (PNP) stronghold.

That’s the view of Matthew Samuda, who leads the party’s public relations machinery and who once headed the young professionals’ group, Generation 2000.

Citing Ann-Marie Vaz’s 2019 electoral victory in Portland Eastern, Samuda believes that a Westmoreland parliamentary scalp would have equal seismic effect.

“I think the last local government election would have certainly pointed to some weaknesses in Westmoreland for the PNP in terms of its structure,” Samuda said.

“You have a mixture of old and young candidates in Westmoreland. You have a parish with what would have been a reflection of what would have taken place in East Portland, where the people are not happy with its level of development with consistent PNP stewardship, so I think there is real opportunity for the conversation to be had and for the people to be convinced,” he told The Gleaner.

In the last local government elections of 2016, the Petersfield, Frome, Savanna-la-Mar, and Cornwall Mountain divisions of Westmoreland Central, and the Friendship division in Westmoreland Western voted green, as the Labourites overturned strongholds in two powerful PNP constituencies where Dwayne Vaz and Dr Wykeham McNeill, a vice-president of the PNP, are the respective members of parliament.

Luther Buchanan holds the other seat in the parish - Westmoreland Eastern.

In the February 2016 general election, the JLP won eight of 14 western parliamentary seats in its Area Council Four political structure.

READY TO RETURN

Samuda, a former president of the JLP’s Generation 2000 (G2K), said that the JLP has been ready for much of the last two years to return to the people for a second term.

“It’s a unique political combination. The JLP has been honing its readiness for the last 12-24 months,” Samuda told The Gleaner.

“We have a formidable structure led by the juggernaut Andrew Holness,” Samuda said of the party’s readiness in its Area Council Four.

He believes that the results of a plethora of polls are sending a clear signal that the country is ready for a second term with the prime minister at the helm. Several opinion surveys by at least three different polling organisations have shown Holness is more than three times popular than Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips.

“I am of the view that with the general mood and the general feeling that is coming out in the national polls, that we will not be losing any seats that we currently hold. I expect the number to increase,” Samuda added.