PNP in a pickle

Outspoken Bunting backer leaves key KSAMC committee after Phillips backers lose confidence in her

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, October 19, 2019

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THE self-inflicted wounds of the People's National Party (PNP) during its recent presidential elections are continuing to bleed despite efforts by the victor, Dr Peter Philips, to cover them with a band aid, with talk of unity and malice towards none.

The latest war zone is the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), where backers of Phillips and the man he defeated, Peter Bunting, seemingly have daggers drawn.

The tension in the municipal body boiled over into the public domain yesterday when Councillor Kari Douglas, an outspoken supporter of Bunting, charged that she was resigning as leader of the PNP's team on the KSAMC's Building and Town Planning Committee because she was being targeted by Phillips supporters.

In a letter to Andrew Swaby, the leader of the PNP's team in the KSAMC, Douglas, the councillor for the Trafalgar Division in St Andrew South Eastern, claimed that she was forced to resign based on resistance from Phillips supporters who were adamant that she should not remain in the post.

But sources close to the councillors who supported Phillips told the Jamaica Observer that there was no need for a resignation by Douglas, as a decision had already been made to replace her.

They said the decision to move Douglas was based on her recent social media posts and not because she backed Bunting.

According to Douglas, the day after Bunting's defeat she had offered her resignation based on reports that some PNP councillors, who lined up with Phillips's 'OnePNP' team, had indicated that they would not sit on the Building and Town Planning Committee if she continued to lead it.

“You may also recall not accepting my resignation offer while indicating that Dr Phillips had called publicly for the party to now unite, and hence you did not expect that type of victimisation or puerile resistance to my continuing to contribute in a space in which I am highly qualified to so do,” said Douglas in her letter to Swaby seen by the Observer.

“It is regrettable that two weeks later OnePNP supporters (names withheld), reportedly wrote you offering their resignation in protest at my continuation as the spokesperson of that committee.

“I gather this is the move which led you to conclude, in your recent letter to me, that it'd be in the interest of unity that I resign as leader of the referenced committee,” added Douglas.

She charged that in light of the vindictive push to have her removed as leader of the committee, she had no option but to resign with immediate effect.

“Minority leader, it remains my view that the various leadership structures of our beloved party, of which you are a part, will not too long from now rue its approach subsequent to the leadership race which has seen talented Comrades sidelined because they dared to take a position towards improving the viability of our party and its chances of success at the next general election,” warned Douglas.

But the Phillips backers pointed to a letter which Swaby had written to Douglas indicating the collective disgust of councillors in the KSAMC about some social media posts made by her.

“In particular, there is a posting which states 'Welcome to Prosperity #New Jamaica' with the V finger sign below. As you know prosperity is the slogan adopted by the Jamaica Labour Party and the V sign is also associated with the JLP,” Swaby said in his letter.

“These postings appear inconsistent with someone who is an elected representative of the PNP, and has caused disquiet, upset and concern among your colleague councillors at the KSAMC.

“There are other posts made by you on social media which have also created upset among your colleagues,” added Swaby.

The sources alleged that with Douglas seeming unapologetic a decision was made for Swaby to replace her in the lead role on the committee – and was not backlash for her support of Bunting.


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