NOV 7 BATTLE - Hanna says she’s a warrior in warning shot to Golding
A fierce political battle for the leadership of the People’s National Party (PNP) between front runners Mark Golding and Lisa Hanna got under way on Sunday, with November 7 set for the climactic run-off for presidency of the deeply divided 82-year-old party.
Amid fracas on the inside of the PNP’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Sunday, the two emerged from the caucus with chanting crowds and early supporters drawing battle lines.
Hanna, the outgoing treasurer of the PNP, told The Gleaner that she will fight for the presidency as she was out to protect the legacy of the party.
“I’m a warrior. I’m a front-line girl and a girl that when it comes to standing on the front line for Jamaican people, that’s me,” Hanna said as she exited the conference centre flanked by supporters.
Hanna had contested a vice-presidential election before but lost. In the September 3 general election, the former beauty queen retained her St Ann South Eastern seat by a whisker – 31 votes – in a one-time PNP stronghold.
“Nothing in my life has ever been easy, but you see all the people here and all the people in Jamaica ... . My courage puts me on the front line,” Hanna further charged, pointing to the women chanting, “We say Lisa!”
Golding, a former treasurer of the PNP and now MP for St Andrew Southern, has attracted at least two failed MP women aspirants who had supported Dr Peter Phillips’ One PNP campaign a year ago in a presidential battle that saw to the narrow defeat of Peter Bunting.
Both Hanna and Golding played key roles in a bitter presidential election campaign between Bunting and Phillips, the latter emerging as the victor by 76 votes.
But with Phillips losing the September 3 general election and Bunting cast in the shadows after being toppled from his Manchester Central seat, Golding is banking on consolidating support from the Rise United team.
Among the early recruits is turncoat Labourite Joan Gordon Webley, who was defeated in her bid to represent St Andrew East Rural in the recently concluded polls. Patricia Duncan Sutherland walked in with Golding into the conference centre.
“I feel very good about it. It’s a big tent, and we welcome everybody on board,” Golding told The Gleaner on Sunday, reacting to the expanded support as Comrades dressed in black greeted him outside the Kenneth Rattray Conference Room.
“We have reached a particularly low ebb in what happened in the last election, and the only way to move forward is if we join hands and hearts and purpose, and I intend to ensure we identify that common purpose in the 21st century, rooted in our history, and rally ‘round it and bring the party together,” Golding said.
Appearing to respond to the cries of delegates who sat on the outskirts of the meeting demanding that the leadership of the PNP unite, Hanna told The Gleaner that healing the party was one of her missions.
“It can’t be done singularly. It has to be done with inclusivity. I don’t see myself as ‘one president’; all of us are in leadership, and everybody here is an extension of me, and that is why I’m putting myself forward.
“We are bringing back the love in the PNP. We are building the unity in the PNP, and it’s going to take all of us to do that. This is not easy, but I’m ready!” Hanna said.
On Sunday, PNP Vice-President Mikael Phillips, son of the outgoing party leader, disclosed that he was putting his presidential ambitions on ice.
Another putative aspirant, Vice-President Damion Crawford, said he was still consulting on whether he should throw his hat into the ring.
Nominations for the presidency will open on October 19 and will close on October 23.
A draft list of the delegates eligible to vote will be published by the PNP on October 20 and a final list published on October 30.
The PNP NEC voted to have the presidential election by parish instead of having all delegates travelling to St Andrew as consideration was given to prevailing COVID-19 safety concerns.
The Electoral Office of Jamaica will conduct the presidential vote.