Fri | Sep 22, 2017

JLP says it's in control of St Elizabeth

Published:Thursday | February 4, 2016 | 2:02 PM
Jamaica Labour Party supporters gathered in Junction, St Elizabeth for a mass meeting Thursday evening.

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

There are two unique things about the two southern seats in St Elizabeth.

They have been won by the winning party in all general elections since 1980, and the voter turnout there has consistently been high.

No wonder, the Jamaica Labour Party, after having its top brass camp out in southern St Elizabeth their towards the end of last year is back in the locale.

South West St Elizabeth and South East St Elizabeth have been marked as must wins for the Labour party if it is to retake state power from the People's National Party (PNP).

Witter has now lost three elections, beginning in 1997 when Derrick Rochester beat him by 2,004 votes.

In 2002, Witter lost by 82 votes to Len Blake.

However, in 2007, he beat Norman Horne by 544 votes.

Buy in 2011, Witter was beaten by incumbent, Richard Parchment by 980 votes.

Witter's supporters told The Gleaner that Parchment is on the ropes and is almost certain to lose in this election.

 "A lot of the people who voted for him are from the Myersville Division and there was goodwill because he was a good councillor. Things have changed since he became MP. A lot of people won't be voting for him," one man told The Gleaner.

Another said the wind of change is in the air.

"It is like 2007. We just know it, Frank is going to take it home," he said.

The number of persons on the South East St Elizabeth voters list has increased since 2011.

In the 2011 polls, 68.7 per cent of the 27,617 people voted.

The list has since moved to 29,855 electors.

When Witter lost his first elections, 75 per cent of the people had voted.

The national average then was 60 per cent.

That proportion dipped slightly to 71 in 2002, which was above the national average of 65 per cent.

In 2007, when Witter beat Horne 74 per cent of the people voted.

The national average was 59 per cent.

However, by 2011 only 68.4 of the people cast ballots although this turn out was above the national average of 53 per cent.

In South West St Elizabeth, the total number of electors stands at 30,250, way above the 27,710 on the 2011 list, 68 per cent of whom voted.

Voter turnout has fallen from 81 per cent in 1997 to 74 per cent in 2007 and 68 per cent in 2011.

Floyd Green, has replaced Dr Christopher Tufton as the JLP's man for the South West St Elizabeth.

Tufton who won by 1,825 in 2007 was beaten by 13 votes by the PNP Hugh Buchanan in the 2011 general election.

Tufton dropped 459 votes from his 2007 numbers polling 9,440, while Buchanan's 9,453 was 1,379 more than the PNP got in the previous election.

Desmond McKenzie, a JLP deputy leader says North East St Elizabeth is also set to fall to the JLP.

"After the 25th I am not sure whether that constituency will continue to be called PNP territory," he said.

He said too that the support for JC Hutchinson in North West St Elizabeth suggested he was large and in charge.

"Labour party is in control of St Elizabeth," McKenzie said.