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Phillips urged to resign in PNP WhatsApp war

Published:Sunday | April 7, 2019 | 12:25 AM

There was a war of words in at least three People’s National Party-connected WhatsApp groups Thursday evening into Friday as frustrated Comrades demanded that the party President Dr Peter Phillips resign from the post.

This was prompted by a bruising defeat in Eastern Portland, a seat the party has not lost in 30 years until last Thursday when the Jamaica Labour Party’s Ann-Marie Vaz beat PNP Vice-president Damion Crawford to become member of parliament-elect.

A WhatsApp group formed by faithful delegates in Region Three in the party, one by an alliance of present and past councillors, and another by the leadership of the Region Two PNP Youth Organisation, have been buzzing since the trouncing as Comrades spar over the future of the party.

“With all due respect to the Comrade leader, the party [gave] him a chance and he still has not proven himself. The party has hit rock bottom under his leadership (although he alone can’t be blame).

“[But] the truth is, and we must be honest with ourselves, he (Phillips) has not given us anything to hold on to as a signal of hope and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just keep slipping and slipping,” one of the messages in the private PNP group read.

It was a similar conversation being had in the PNPYO Region Two group as similar calls were made for Phillips to step aside.

‘Peter must go’

“Peter must go,” an executive member of the PNPYO group wrote, complaining that the party was not attractive to young people.

But while some agreed, there were others who did not want to have any discussion on the leadership of the party.

But the executive member persisted, arguing in cryptic terms and colloquial parlance, “if the head of the stream is not good, why look downstream”.

The dissenting member was subsequently ejected from the group as the senior executive members would no longer tolerate him.

PHILLIPS’ DEFENDERS

There were a few backers of Phillips who rushed to his defence as a wave of criticism against his leadership rose.

“Comrade Phillips is doing his best. Remember that the party was in deep hole long before he became leader, so it’s not fair to rest it all on his shoulders. We should not be focused on tearing down the party, we should focus on building up the party, because if you replace him (Phillips) with anybody else, they would not be able to do a better job. It is a party problem and not a one-man problem,” a seasoned campaigner from central Kingston said.

Meanwhile, some councillors in the WhatsApp group believed that Phillips needed to have an “honest” discussion about his future in the party and his intentions in the lead-up to the next general election, which is constitutionally due by 2021.

The PNP has lost two of its parliamentary seats under the leadership of Phillips.

The JLP’s Norman Dunn snatched the South East St Mary seat back in 2017 in a by-election following the sudden death of Dr Winston Green, the member of parliament.

editorial@gleanerjm.com