Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Can PNP face the lantern of scrutiny?

Published:Sunday | October 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMGeorge Davis, Contributor
Lydia Richards, disgruntled councillor of the Bensonton division in St Ann.
Paul Burke, general secretary of the People's National Party.

Diogenes of Sinope, the most famous of all the Greek cynics, used to walk around the marketplace in Athens with a lit lantern in broad daylight. For him, it was a move intended to goad those around him into asking him about the lantern, so he could, in turn, insult them.

So when he replied that he was using the lit lantern, under the broiling sun, to shine it in people's faces in his search for an honest man, many people used to shake their heads and remark that he was nothing but a madman looking to draw attention to himself with his silly antics. Others who wanted to appear intellectual would seek to convince sceptics that a lantern in daylight holds a magical key to character illumination.

If the councillor for the Bensonton division in South East St Ann, Lydia Richards, is to be believed, perhaps there is a need for special lanterns to be bought for the examination of the character of the secretariat of the People's National Party. Richards, a professed Comrade from the womb, has been crying foul even before the selection non-contest, two Sundays ago, for the right to represent South East St Ann on the PNP ticket at the next general election.

An email thread, published by her, between herself and PNP General Secretary Paul Burke on Saturday, September 26, the eve of the selection exercise, lays bare her complaints and concerns about the integrity of the voters' list. Her complaints are weighty enough to get a concession from Burke that the list could possibly have been corrupted. That's an astonishing claim, elevated to the level of fantastic, after Burke acknowledges that this possibly corrupt list would be used to determine which of the two aspirants would be selected by delegates as the party's representative in South East St Ann.

Pause for a moment and digest that. The general secretary of arguably the most well-oiled and efficient political machinery in this region acknowledges that an internal election is being contested on a voters' list that's possibly corrupt? Wow! But then Burke goes on to say that Richards has nothing to complain about because the same possibly corrupt list was used by the party to select her and her colleagues to the positions from which they then proceeded to run successfully as councillors in the last parochial elections in 2012.

So is it that a possibly corrupt voters' list is not a big thing then? And is it safe to assume that it's a waste of time to purge those corrupting elements from the list?

That latter assumption is a safe draw because according to Richards, in a letter to Burke, there were at least 10 things that tainted the delegates' list used in the September 27 contest. Among those points is the use of the name of a St Ann businessman and his company's name in a minor delegate group that he was said to control.

The man, Alfred Hoilett, wrote to Burke, dismissing the claim that he was a delegate and charging that his name had been added to the delegates' list by fraudulent means. He told my substantive employer that Burke has yet to respond to him.

And so we return to Diogenes. For in isolation and now backed up by Hoilett's claim, it would appear that dishonesty is at the heart of the PNP secretariat. But when you consider that Richards has made a claim of bias against not only Paul Burke, but Julian Robinson, Wensworth Skeffery and Raymond Pryce, clearly, something is amiss. Pound for pound, these are honest men. Perhaps not even Diogenes' lamp is penetrating enough to reveal any dishonesty among this band.

Worse yet, when you analyse the numbers and realise that Lisa Hanna was always going to be a hard horse to beat, you are led to dismiss the concerns of school principal Richards.

But then again, when you consider the written claims made by Richards against her Comrades-in-arms, clearly there's need for some of the damning charges made to be addressed. I am waiting on Burke and his team to address these issues.

And I am walking with my lantern to that press conference.


- George Davis is a news editor and morning host of Nationwide News Network. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.