Horne to make Senate decision this week
Former People’s National Party (PNP) treasurer Norman Horne, who is at the centre of a controversy over a vacant Senate seat, has told The Sunday Gleaner that he intends to decide this week whether to write to the governor general declining the nomination to pave the way for Peter Bunting, who is waiting in the wings to take the seat.
Horne strongly rejected claims that withdrawing the nomination is dependent on the party repaying him a $10-million debt, down from an initial amount of nearly $20 million.
“It is incorrect and irresponsible to link an October 7, 2020 letter to the former general secretary of the People’s National Party to whether or not I will take the Senate oath,” Horne asserted in a statement yesterday, in response to speculation.
“The party is more important than me and is also more important than any individual. My decision will always be in the best interests of the party,” he told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.
Horne, a former Jamaica Labour Party senator, insisted that he will not be pushed out of the PNP, even as calls grow in some circles for him to be evicted.
“They are just frivolous. I am not a part of Rise United. I’m a member of the People’s National Party. I will never be a member of the Rise United Party. I don’t believe there is room within the party for another party,” he said, referencing Bunting’s failed campaign to unseat then PNP President Dr Peter Phillips in September 2019.
Horne explained to The Sunday Gleaner that he, like other party members, had lent the PNP sums for the 2016 general election campaign.
“When Portia Simpson Miller demitted office [in 2017], ... the leader (Phillips) acknowledged the debt and made a commitment,” he explained.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE DEBT
“Because a new leader [was] being contemplated, [which] could have been Lisa Hanna or Mark Golding, on October 7, the intention was for the general secretary to update his account and to confirm in writing the contribution that I was making to the party, and an acknowledgement of the debt,” Horne said of his letter.
“This has nothing to do with the Senate,” he insisted.
The businessman told The Sunday Gleaner that he is hoping that Golding will acknowledge the debt.
“It would be derelict of him not to,” Horne said, adding that he was not the only one the PNP owed monies.
Horne said that there was no bad blood between himself and Bunting, saying he greeted him subsequent to the former Manchester Central member of parliament lashing him in a WhatsApp conversation when Horne sent a graphic accusing Bunting’s Rise United of creating divisions in the party.
On Friday, plans for Bunting to be appointed to the Senate were railroaded as it was revealed that Horne had not yet withdrawn his nomination.
Horne said that, despite the division, he remains hopeful that the 82-year-old party will heal.
“It requires skilful leadership. I hope that Mr Golding grows in such a capacity and amasses good advice and skilful leadership that will bring about this one, united People’s National Party,” he said.
He called on Golding to be take a conciliatory – as opposed to a dismissive and dictatorial – approach in leading the party.
The former PNP treasurer charged that Golding’s approach to the leadership so far was causing the rift in the party to widen and the reason why three out of the 14 opposition MPs did not endorse him in a letter to the governor general to become leader of the Opposition.
Still, Horne said he was more than willing to assist to unite the party.
“The country demands a united party. The PNP is the people’s party and the people are deserving of a united party,” he said, adding that he was concerned that party issues were being played out in the media.
“The party needs all of its good men and women to advance its cause, because a party that does not amass state power is nothing more than just a lobby organisation,” Horne stated.