Tufton on path to Parliament return
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
HIS RETURN to active service in the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) now official, former member of parliament for South Western St Elizabeth, Dr Christopher Tufton, seems set to occupy one of the strong seats being represented in Parliament by a member of the party.
With veteran politician Dr Kenneth Baugh, the member parliament for West Central St Catherine, announcing his decision to call it quits in representational politics at the completion of his elective tenure, insiders say Tufton is being considered to run on the JLP ticket by the leadership of the party.
JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang announced on Tuesday that Tufton, a former deputy leader, was back in the fold. He said Tufton's return to an active role in the JLP materialised out of several internal election activities.
"The question of the seat is not yet settled, but we are involved in positive discussions," said Chang in relation to Tufton's prospects in West Central St Catherine.
For his part, Tufton, a former senator who was booted from the opposition benches in the aftermath of last year's leadership election, declined to comment.
"I have no comment on this matter at this time," was all that Tufton would say when contacted by The Gleaner.
Chang said the focus of Monday night's meeting was no different from previous ones.
"Essentially, we would not be 100 per cent prepared now and we do need resources for the kind of high-intensive preparations that will be involved," he said.
Added Chang: "Last year, attention was focused on fixing human-resource gaps such as candidate selection … . A few ticklish ones are left, followed by training."
He said in the coming year, the JLP will be focusing on those issues "and I expect that we will succeed".
SHOT IN THE ARM
Highly placed sources said the election of Tufton, a former deputy leader, would be a shot in the arm.
Tufton is considered to be one of at least three members being eyed to take Baugh's place as the candidate for the party in the next general election, with members suggesting his selection would be good for the JLP at this time.
Last month, Tufton vehemently dismissed claims that he was demanding a safe seat if he is to represent the party in the next general election and poured scorn on suggestions that he was eyeing a switch to the People's National Party.
"I am still a member of the JLP and still see it as an important vehicle for change," said Tufton.
He said the break did not mean that he had abandoned the JLP as he had taken a year's leave, in the hope that tensions emerging from the leadership contest would ease.
Chang disclosed that Tufton was included among the 10 members elected to the Central Executive from the membership of the JLP. Also elected was Audley Shaw, the man who challenged Andrew Holness for the position of JLP leader a year ago.
JLP Chairman Robert Montague and Deputy Chairman Aundré Franklin were returned, along with Chang as general secretary.
The four deputy general secretaries - Audley Gordon, Dr Andrew Wheatley, Homer Davis and Richard Creary - as well as Phillip Henriques, treasurer; and Leslie Campbell, deputy treasurer, were elected unopposed.