‘Fall in line’
Kern Spencer warns Golding antagonists to lay down their swords
Sidelined former People’s National Party (PNP) parliamentarian Kern Spencer has chastised dissident members for sowing discord in the beleaguered political movement. He has also urged rival factions to stop inflicting wounds and accept that they...
Sidelined former People’s National Party (PNP) parliamentarian Kern Spencer has chastised dissident members for sowing discord in the beleaguered political movement. He has also urged rival factions to stop inflicting wounds and accept that they have lost.
The chastening message was issued after veteran activist Karen Cross led a small march on the PNP headquarters in St Andrew last Thursday, offering a stinging rebuke to the party hierarchy.
Cross was expelled from the party three days ago after launching an incendiary months-long campaign rich with invective against General Secretary Dayton Campbell, who has filed a defamation suit against her and Natalie Slack over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Campbell has rejected the claims as false and malicious.
Spencer, who believes that Mark Golding, PNP president, is the most capable person to lead the party after its landslide electoral defeat in September 2020, described the current infighting as a transitional struggle that is playing out because of the party’s democratic principles. However, he charged that it is now a time for rebuilding, not recrimination.
“If you still feel that you should challenge next year, then you challenge. I believe in challenges because it is healthy, and it is part of the democratic process, but after the challenge and the winner emerges, then there has to be one party where everybody will fall in line,” Spencer told The Gleaner.
STRIKE A BALANCE
Spencer has urged Golding to strengthen his inner circle to repel future challenges but to strike a balance by including detractors.
He is wary, however, of calls that equate leadership challenges with disunity.
“It can’t be that every time one Comrade would want to offer himself for leadership, because he thinks he has the competence to do the job, then there is a cry for disunity in the party,” Spencer said.
Spencer, who quit representational politics as he fought fraud charges in the Cuban light bulb scandal, walked free after the Crown’s case collapsed.
He remains non-committal on a future in representational politics but has set his sights on becoming chairman of the PNP’s Region Five. The former MP is optimistic that the PNP could carry the 15-member St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation in the local government polls due in 2022.
Golding’s initiation into leadership, two months after Dr Peter Phillips stepped aside, has been fraught with melodramatic meltdowns that have deepened divisions in the 83-year-old party.
The party president has not escaped the shadow of Peter Bunting, the heir apparent who lost his Manchester Central seat in the 2020 general election. Viewed as Bunting’s proxy, Golding has sought to carve his own path but has been criticised for retaining the Rise United clique.
July’s resignations of vice presidents Damion Crawford, Mikael Phillips, and Wykeham McNeill, as well as chairman Phillip Paulwell, delivered a black eye to Golding’s unity thrust.