People's National Party stands by its seniors
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
A PROPOSAL aimed at relegating long-serving People's National Party (PNP) members to the back room has been rejected by Conference, the highest decision-making body of the party.
Paul Burke, a former chairman the PNP's powerful Region Three, had moved a resolution aimed at retiring old parliamentarians in order to foster renewal in the party.
"... Whereas for renewal, rethinking and the repositioning of the party, there must be aggressive and timely succession planning, thus requiring some of these long-serving Comrades, regardless of their desire to continue serving and their ambitions, to step back in the interest of the greater good of the People's National Party and in order to allow younger members who have demonstrated their commitment and who are performers to have an opportunity to move forward ..." the resolution read.
It further proposed that members who have already served 10 years as Cabinet ministers and who are also over age 60 "outside of Comrade Portia Simpson Miller and Peter Phillips, who are expected to play key and pivotal leadership roles", should step back.
However, according to 67-year-old PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, the resolution was " roundly thrown out".
Had the motion succeeded, Pickersgill, as well as Central Westmoreland MP Roger Clarke (70), South St James MP Derrick Kellier (63), and South St Andrew MP Dr Omar Davies (63), would have been forced to step back.
"I never took any part because I never wanted it to appear as if I was attempting to defend myself. I depend on the inner wisdom of the party and I am not at all surprised at the outcome," the party chairman said.
Meanwhile, Pickersgill said the party does not yet have a position on the issue of term limits for prime ministers.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said he would be taking legislation to Parliament aimed at limiting the length of time a person can serve as prime minister to no more than two terms.
During the public session of the PNP 72nd annual conference on Sunday, several veterans lined up as part of a team which the 64-year-old Simpson Miller says represents "a blend of youth and experience".
The team, she said, would be unbeatable when it faces the electorate in the next general election.
At least four long-standing PNP MPs, Dean Peart, Sharon Hay-Webster, Dr Donald Rhodd and Maxine Henry-Wilson, have indicated they will be stepping back from representational politics at that time.