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Peter, Audley still lead. Jamaicans pick finance gladiators as best replacements for party leaders

Published:Monday | October 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor

Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips and Audley Shaw, his opposition counterpart, remain the two front-runners to take over the leadership of their respective parties based on the findings of the latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson polls.

The 64-year-old Phillips, who made two unsuccessful bids for the leadership of the People's National Party (PNP), enjoys the support of 23 per cent of Jamaicans as the ideal person to lead the party if Portia Simpson Miller were to walk away.

This reflects a seven percentage-point increase in those who see Phillips as the next PNP leader as compared to December 2011 and reflects the good press he has been receiving locally and internationally for his efforts to fix the country's macro-economic fundamentals.

Phillips is head and shoulders above Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna (10 per cent, up from six per cent in 2011) as the persons Jamaicans think would best replace Simpson Miller.

Crawford on the lead

The outspoken, first-time Member of Parliament Damion Crawford, with four per cent of public support, continues to lead heavy hitters National Security Minister Peter Bunting and Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell in the polls despite indications from inside the PNP that they would be among the first names to be thrown into the ring should Simpson Miller call it a day.

In the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Shaw, who made an unsuccessful bid to replace Holness last year, is a far way in front of any other potential candidate to replace the party leader if he decides to call it a day.

Shaw, now 62 years old, has long been seen as a leader of the JLP and enjoys the support of 30 per cent of Jamaicans as the man to replace Holness.

Dubbed 'Man A Yard', Shaw has seen his stock rise by 11 percentage points since 2011, making him the biggest mover in the latest poll conducted from September 5 to 7 and from 13 to 14 with a sampling size of 1,208 and a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

Trailing Shaw by a massive 21 percentage points is Dr Christopher Tufton, who gained three percentage points since 2011 despite being dumped from the Senate by Holness and who resigned as the JLP's caretaker for the South West St Elizabeth seat at the start of this year, effectively ruling him out of representational politics.

Dr Ken Baugh and the always visible Daryl Vaz are the only others to make a statistical impact on the polls as other potential leaders of the JLP failed to resonate with a significant number of Jamaicans.