Letter of the Day: A few Scree-ching errors!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I REFER to an article entitled, 'Time to renew PNP' by noted historian and former legislator, Mr Arnold 'Scree' Bertram in The Sunday Gleaner of April 3, 2016 in which he stated that the PNP moved from the humiliating defeat in the 1944 general election... "To lead both the JLP and the independents with a majority of the popular vote in the 1947 local government election."
Well, that's not what really happened at all.
In the first local government (parish council) election under Adult Suffrage in October 1947, it was the Independents that swept the polls and comprehensively crushed the two major parties. Independents polled 88,111 votes (37.6 per cent), won 93 Divisions (47 per cent), won seven Councils and tied (6-6) with the JLP in Hanover, but ended up controlling just the 7 Councils (St. Thomas, St. Mary, Trelawny, St. James, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth and Clarendon), because Hanover's two JLP MHRs (Malcolm and Dickson) as ex-officio members gave the JLP the majority in that Council.
The JLP came third in the popular vote with 65,285 (27.8 per cent) to the PNP's second place with 68,784 (29.4 per cent), but won 54 Divisions (27 per cent) to the PNP's 52 Divisions (26 per cent). The JLP also won 2 Councils (plus the tie in Hanover) to the PNP's victory in 3 Councils (including the KSAC), but with their preponderance of MHRs (5-1) as ex-officios in the KSAC, they were able to take charge of 4 Councils (KSAC, Portland, Hanover and St. Catherine), leaving just St. Ann and Manchester controlled by the PNP.
However, it is a fact that the PNP first became the well-oiled, mean organizational machine from the late 1940s to the early '50s, which won the majority of votes in the 1949 general election (though defeated), took 8 seats from the JLP and cut their seat-margin from 17 in 1944 to 3 in 1949, although failing to make any impact on the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, Trelawny and Hanover.
But the PNP were outstanding in the 1951 local government election which turned out to be the first national election won by the party. They polled 80,912 votes (42.6 per cent) to the JLP's 68,057 (35.9 per cent) and 36,766 (19.4 per cent) by the Independents. The PNP won 81 Divisions (41 per cent) compared to 61 (30 per cent) by the Independents and 57 (28 per cent) by the JLP, but won the majority of divisions in only 5 parishes (St. Thomas, St. Ann, Trelawny, St. James and Manchester) and tied (5-5) with the JLP in Clarendon and (6-6) with the Independents in St. Mary. Consequently, the PNP controlled only 6 Councils (and not 7 as stated in the article), which comprised their 5 and the KSAC through a reversal of fortunes with ex-officio members from their parliamentary conquest of the Corporate Area in the 1949 general election.