Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Waiting, waiting, waiting - Peter won't push Portia despite uncertainty over when she will depart

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Dr Peter Phillips (left) has no intention of pushing Portia Simpson Miller (right) out of the job of president of the People’s National Party.

People's National Party (PNP) president-in-waiting Dr Peter Phillips has downplayed reports that he is becoming anxious to ascend to the throne.

PNP insiders have told The Sunday Gleaner that the failure of party president Portia Simpson Miller to give a definite time line for her departure - having indicated months ago that she would not seek re-election come September - is causing tension inside the party and anxiety for some Comrades.


Growing concerns


Last week, Phillips confirmed that there is a growing concern among some Comrades about the absence of a definitive date when the new president will take charge but said that there is no indecent haste on his part.

According to Phillips, he has made it clear to Comrades that he will not undermine Simpson Miller and will not seek to push her away from the position she has held for the past 11 years.

"The officers of the party and the party leader, as I understand, are in discussion about issues of timing. The specifics of the transition are being worked out, and I am content to wait until the issues are determined," said Phillips.

"In the meantime, I continue to fulfil my responsibilities in my constituency, as opposition spokesman, and to formulate my thoughts about the challenges of renewal and recharging of PNP's energies," added Phillips.

The veteran Comrade, who seems poised to be elected PNP president unopposed, said that individuals from a wide cross section of the party have reached out to him and there is a continuous exchange of views at divisional and regional levels.

Phillips said that individuals have sought his advice on some party issues, and while he has shared his views, he has pushed matters to the right channels, while advising that the instant concerns must be addressed elsewhere.

"In doing all of this, one has to be mindful all the time that there is one president of the party, and in any organisation, you can't confuse authority that flows from the office in that sense.

"So we are doing all of this but still recognising the centre of authority, which still exists, amid all of this, through the party president," said Phillips.

He added: "One has to be mindful of confusion, and at the risk of causing offence, unwittingly, that can arise in situations. But I think our understanding in the party, and that of the party leader, is clear cut, and I am certainly not going to usurp any decision that properly belongs to the president of the party."


Unusual situation


Phillips, who has held several roles in the PNP over the years, including the key organisational posts of general secretary and vice-president, admits that the current situation is unusual.

"It is true that in all the transitions we have had thus far in the party, you have had a period declared for the contest. There has been a contest and result following that.

"In this particular circumstance, what you have is no other declared candidate and a period of transition that is indeterminate. Not by any action on my part ... ," said Phillips.

"It is unusual in that sense, but I think it will be well managed by the party because the PNP has durable structures and enormous goodwill within the party among the Comrades, which will keep everything on a proper and even keel," added Phillips.