Comrades pin hopes on 'The Rock'
Faced with repeated claims that it is a fragmented party not displaying the intellectual rigour to convince Jamaicans that it is a government-in-waiting, the People's National Party (PNP) has closed ranks behind Dr Peter Phillips and now wait for March 26, when he will be officially crowned as its fifth president.
But critics have charged that the Comrades are giving Phillips a long-service award rather than selecting a president with the future of the party in mind.
Last Wednesday, as scores of Comrades turned up at the PNP's headquarters to endorse Phillips following his nomination, we asked some senior members of the party to respond to the critics.
That is a nonsensical argument. If they look at his performance as minister of finance and as spokesman on finance, they would say something with sense.
When you think of the record of Dr Peter Phillips and the experience he has gained, I can't think of anyone else in the party with his proven acumen to do this task.
The PNP is looking at the future, plus somebody who can organise the party right now. I'm not suggesting that the former leader could not have organised the party, but there has been a transition and he is the best person for the job.
I don't think the critics know what they are talking about. The party has looked into itself and the majority believe that at this time, Dr Peter Phillips is the best person to lead the party and to follow the wonderful leg run by Comrade Portia Simpson Miller.
Peter is the man right now who can unite the party and ensure that it continues on its mission started in 1938 under the leadership of Norman Washington Manley. It is a mission that requires inclusiveness of all generations ... I think he is the right man for the time because I think everybody in the party accepts his leadership and will rally around him.
There is nothing wrong with long service. It just means that he is committed to the party. There are other people with other attributes and they were considered, but we all felt that Peter Phillips is the best person now to lead the party and the country. His long service has given me confidence that there is very little risk with Peter Phillips leading the party and the country.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Dr Peter Phillips is tried and proven. The PNP knows this and the people of Jamaica know it.
Dr Dayton Campbell
Dr Phillips is probably the most qualified person who could run for president of the party, having served at all levels of the party and several portfolios of the Government.
I reject totally that this is a long-service award. Anywhere in the world you go you find examples of persons in their 60s and even in their 70s who are serving in the highest capacity. We believe that Comrade Peter Phillips is the best person to lead the party at this time and to become prime minister of Jamaica.
Dr Wykeham McNeill
I think that Comrades from the length and breadth of this island and all walks of life unanimously believe that he is the best person for the job. He is true Comrade and a true performer.
He is the best person to replace Comrade Portia Simpson Miller. Peter's clarity, capacity for work and his service to the party all reflect his strength as a Comrade and make him the best choice.
There is no expiration date for service. Service of any kind is valuable whether to a cause or a nation. If persons want to focus on somebody's date of birth that is entirely up to them, but I believe that there are greater issues that face us.