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PNP MP accuses party of sidelining youth

Published:Sunday | July 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Raymond Pryce

A member of parliament in the ruling Peoples' National Party (PNP) has taken a swipe at his own party for what he says are efforts to replace young representatives in the aftermath of utilising their support to win elections.

Addressing the PNP Youth Organization’s (PNPYO) biennial congress at the Ocho Rios high school yesterday, Raymond Pryce, the member of parliament for North East St Elizabeth, noted what he described as the “tame” and laid back attitude at the congress and questioned the reason for it.

“Is it because you’re naturally laid back, this batch of YO leaders and supporters? And I’m going to be just a little bit controversial, or could it be that you, the youths of the People’s National Party, are at a crossroads in your mind wondering if the organization depends on you for numbers to win elections?”

He continued, to huge applause: “I am wondering if you’re concerned that the People’s National Party played a trick on you because it was only after that switch (from Golding to Holness) that Damion Crawford became a candidate, that Dayton Campbell became a candidate, that Hugh Buchanan became a candidate, that Raymond Pryce became a candidate, that Jolyan Silvera became a candidate, that Andre Hylton became a candidate, that Winston Green became a candidate and I could go on....”

Pryce asked if the young people feel they were “tricked” again in the March 2012 local government elections that brought “the most young people as councillor candidate across the country”.

“And I’m wondering if some of you are confused as to whether or not it is the same People’s National Party in 2015 that is replacing, changing, moving out, expelling, removing, sidelining, retiring all of the under-40s; so if you’re sitting down there a little upset then I can’t blame you, no music will correct that.”

“I’m going to ask you, as I’ve been asking myself over the last few months, is this People’s National Party the same People’s National Party that said we care for the development of youth?”

At the congress, Andrae Blair was elected unopposed for president of the PNPYO to replace the outgoing Alrick Campbell.

Party chairman Robert Pickersgill, who brought greetings, said he would be meeting with the new executive “as quickly as possible”.

The executive had earlier met with former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) member and now new PNP member, Joan Gordon Webley.