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Mark Wignall | A win for a loss, Peter Phillips?

Published:Thursday | July 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM

According to most of those who have identified themselves as firmly in support of Dr Peter Phillips’ presidency, there is only a minuscule chance that he will lose to Central Manchester MP Peter Bunting, when the September date for the PNP leadership challenge comes around.

To those people, it is safer to label Bunting as an arrogant challenger who is not content to sit and wait for ‘the right time’. But even if they are prepared to adopt that position openly and officially, they are just now catching up with the Bunting message of selling his PNP as a winning probability.

KD Knight, a staunch supporter of Phillips, has been recruited by the better side of his political brain and has introduced much-needed levity into the larger political narrative. In a not-unusual bit of political histrionics, liberally drawn from his natural wit and his performance during the Manatt Inquiry, he is calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to pack an oversized bag.

“Buy a bag, Andrew; you will soon have to pack it and go,” said the well seasoned politician recently at the official launch of the Phillips campaign. It is entirely within the realm of likelihood that KD Knight is a more pragmatic man than that and, quietly, he fears what is likely to be another JLP win.

Andrew Holness may increase the live body count of those who sit in parliament when the next election is held instead of toting his political belongings and exiting Jamaica House. KD Knight ought to know that, but, in politics, one learns early that the only message to carry is the one where winning is everything, even if the signs point differently.

In addition to those loud voices, some still struggling to come to terms with the negative poll findings of Phillips, there is that question or two that Dr Peter Phillips must ask himself just before he retires to bed each night. If he wins against Bunting but suffers a trouncing against Mr Fit to Fiddle, Andrew Holness, will he accept that the loss is mostly due to him hamstringing the PNP by increasing the electoral chances of the JLP, led by Holness?


For Peter Phillips personally, the best outcome of the electoral fortunes is a Bunting win followed by another Holness win. The seat count will not be that material in a second win for the JLP.

Dr Phillips is trying to mix the political pot by asking those in the PNP to look at his more-than-a passing-grade performance in various ministries. Surely, now he ought to know that in party politics it is never about what was done in the yesterday years. It is always about what he brings to the party leadership as a ‘winning’ leader. Opinion polls indicate that his very presence is a big weight holding down the PNP.

Those numbers must haunt him as he crawls into bed at nights. One MP supporting Bunting said to me recently, “The delegates are reading the politics of self-interest this time around. I heard you on radio a few weeks ago speaking about Bunting in Clarendon and I am now seeing the kind of political strategist he is.”

Political campaigning is not necessarily strategy-heavy as it is in pounding the pavement. It is physically taxing and the contenders will be called on to run 18-hour days. It is never easy on the body and it costs money.

Plus, the brawling on social media is likely to increase. Such is the reality of internal elections. Both Bunting and Phillips need to hammer the JLP on the never-ending saga at Petrojam. They need to hope that something finally sticks to Andrew Holness.