Fri | Oct 23, 2020

‘Wright-ing’ was on the wall in Westmoreland Central

Published:Saturday | September 5, 2020 | 12:13 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Not many diehard People’s National Party (PNP) supporters anticipated the political thrashing meted out to them by the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in Thursday’s general election.

The JLP outmanoeuvred and outpolled the PNP to win 49 seats compared to just 14 for the Dr Peter Phillips’ PNP. In the JLP’s win, the PNP lost some key constituencies formerly considered safe seats by the Opposition. Westmoreland Central was one of them. It has long been seen as the safest of safe seats for the PNP among the constituencies in western Jamaica. However, by late Thursday afternoon, it was clear that the status was likely to be changed.

And change, it did as the JLP’s George ‘Masquerade’ Wright (4,485 votes) wrote his name into the history books by defeating Dwayne Vaz, the PNP incumbent, who could only muster 3,958 votes.

The win shattered more than three decades of unbroken PNP rule in the seat that was the domain of Dr Karl Blythe from 1989 to 2011 and Roger Clarke, who held the seat until his passing owing to ill-health.

Right man at the right time

Wright’s campaign manager, Harry Morrell, said that the member of parliament-elect is “just the right man at the right time and in the right place”.

“I can tell you, Mr Wright is a well-respected and humble human being and one who is not afraid to get dirty in doing his job. He is a businessman in the truest sense, and he will make a good MP,” he said.

“He is not only humble, but extremely hard working and practical. If you see him, you will want to underestimate him but only to your own detriment as he will be successful. The people know this,” said Morrell.

The mostly young, first-time JLP voters, who spoke with The Gleaner on election day, said they had rejected Vaz and the PNP, describing them as “out of touch” and “unfit” to lead.

“Tell Dr Phillips that is young people do this. We tired of the PNP not doing anything for the constituency!” shouted a young lady while in the back of a pickup leading the victory motorcade.

Twenty-four-year-old Robert Harlan, who stood buying a bag of sugar cane near the Savanna-la-Mar Bus Park in the centre of the town, had his head wrapped in a green handkerchief. He noted that his family had voted for the PNP over several generations but had chosen to do the “impossible” by voting for Wright.

Harlan said that the PNP has no more real value to younger voters.

“The PNP is an expired product. The people have no need for them and have rejected their philosophy and whatever they stand for,” he said.