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Lloyd B cries foul - Central St James delegates reject MP, Smith cites corruption, skulduggery

Published:Sunday | September 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Lloyd B. Smith, member of parliament for Central St James, soaks in the result of yesterday’s ‘affirmation conference’, during which People’s National Party delegates rejected his bid to represent them at the next general elections.

Western Bureau:

People's National Party (PNP) delegates in Central St James yesterday voted by an overwhelming 66-36 margin to reject the bid by their member of parliament (MP), Lloyd B. Smith, to be their candidate when the next general elections are called.

Throughout the day, it was quite clear that many of the Comrades who showed up at the Barracks Road Primary School, where the exercise took place, were not in favour of Smith, openly criticising his leadership style and questioning the quality of his stewardship.

After the votes were counted, a somewhat subdued Smith declared the process, which was supervised by former PNP Councillor Donald Colomathi, as badly flawed and riddled with irregularities.

"There were several anomalies, skulduggery, and acts of corruption that took place today ... . This was supposed to be a 'yes' or 'no' vote, yet we had another set of people here campaigning," said Smith, who is deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. "What is happening here is scandalous, and I will make my overall objections."

Smith, a first-time MP, who once ran on a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket, intimated that, should the executive of the PNP fail to listen to and address his concerns, he would be prepared to go public, possibly to the detriment of the party.

"If the party does not act swiftly to address this situation, then I am prepared to go public," said Smith, overruling his supporters who told him he should not speak with the media.

"I am prepared to go public and some of what I will go public with might be earth-shattering ... because what happened here today was a travesty of democracy ... . What happened here today was not democratic ... . The democratic process was hijacked."

In declaring that he was not a sore loser who was complaining after the fact, Smith said that, from the very outset of the exercise, he had raised several concerns, including having Colomathi supervising the process.

"At an early stage today, I made my objections clear about having Colomathi conducting the exercise," said Smith, who defeated the JLP's Heroy Clarke for the newly created Central St James seat in 2012.

However, while Smith was clearly not pleased, one of his councillors, Sylvan Reid, who represents the Salt Spring division, was clearly quite happy, declaring that what unfolded was a case of democracy at work.

"This result is saying that we need to put our house in order and we are happy that we have got the chance to do so in time. This is a clear message to all the representatives of the people ... both PNP and JLP ... . You must listen to the people. The people elect you to perform, so you must either perform... . If you don't perform, the people will tell you in time that you must go."

While the majority of delegates want to see Smith's back, a well-placed PNP source, who asked not to be named, said the party executive would look at the results and do its own sounding before making a final decision on whether Smith stays or goes.