Western News

JLP western losers seek other seats; one to quit politics

Never again

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 12, 2012    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — At least two Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidates in western Jamaica, who failed in their bid to win a seat in the December 29 general election, have vowed not to seek re-election in their respective constituencies.

At the same time, another has decided to quit representational politics.

"I am packing it in; I have had enough," said Corris Samuels, who suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the People's National Party's (PNP) Raymond Pryce in North East St Elizabeth.

Samuels polled 5,498 votes to Pryce's 9,566 in the national poll, held two weeks ago.

It was Samuels' second defeat in that constituency, having lost to former PNP junior minister Kern Spencer in the 2007 general election.

In an interview with the Observer West earlier this week, Samuels criticised the hierarchy of the JLP for not providing him with the necessary support in the run up to the December 29 polls.

" The party did not do anything in the constituency for me. Not even one political meeting was held there. It was only for Election Day that we get some money," he charged.

He said, following the local government election, which he believes will be held in March, he will resign as chairman of the constituency.

" So within the next six months I will resign or certainly by the end of the year," he stressed.

Meanwhile, former Government Senator Dennis Meadows and attorney Don Foote, who unsuccessful contested the constituencies of North Trelawny and Eastern Westmoreland respectively on the JLP's ticket in the recent election, say that will be seeking to contest seats elsewhere.

" I will be seeking a seat in St James. That might be more fertile ground for me," said a disappointed Meadows, who lost to the PNP's Patrick Atkinson by 2,283 votes.

Meadows also tasted defeat in the 2007 general election when he was beaten by the PNP's Dr Patrick Harris.

Earlier this week he told the Observer West that he has had enough of the constituency.

"Having tested the waters twice in Northern Trelawny — where I have extended a lot of time, energy and financial resources because I genuinely believe that the constituency could have been won with the proper organisation — history has proven me wrong there, so I must make a decision now that is in my best interest," he argued.

He added :"I believe that the constituency has enough potential for development and I believe that the vision I took there would have contributed to the development of the constituency but the people have spoken and have made their decision so I believe that I have to move on to greener pastures. I am going to St James to identify a more viable seat to continue my political journey."

North Trelawny has been seen as a stronghold of the PNP, which has won the seat consistently from 1989.

Meadows told the Observer West that he intends to resign as chairman of that constituency within the next three weeks to make way for a new standard bearer.

Already, he said, he has been meeting with supporters in the constituency, expressing gratitude for their support over the years.

He said he also plans to assist representatives in the constituency who will be contesting the upcoming local government election.

The JLP currently holds three of the five parish council divisions in the constituency.

The former senator pointed out that during his tenure as constituency caretaker, he worked assiduously for the constituents.

"I have been the voice for the people and I have earned respect across the political divide, but at the end of the day that accrued to me no political capital," he bemoaned.

He expressed disappointment at Labourites in the constituency who he said, did not go out to vote on Election Day.

" I am most disappointment with the Labourites who did not come out to vote for one reason or the other. Some of them were fed rumours- deliberately by the PNP- on my offering the PNP supporters this and that, so they (JLP supporters) obviously believed and all of that contributed to my overall loss," he argued.

Additionally, he said, he believes that the election was ill-timed, arguing that it should have been called before Christmas.

" If we wanted an election in December, we should have it somewhere within the 16th 18th of December but once you make the Christmas fall within the official campaign period, in real terms you have to be prepared to spend money, in terms of Christmas work and because that was not done our base was demoralised," he explained.

Foote for his part, told the Observer West that he is uncertain where he would like to run again, arguing that "five years is a long time to come."

But he made it clear, however, that he is not retiring from politics.

Already, he said, he has started to say goodbyes to his supporters and is planning a farewell function for them which is expected to be held within weeks.

Foote has chalked up four consecutive defeats in less than 10 years in Eastern Westmoreland, in his quest to enter the House of Representatives.

In the 2002 general election, his task was to unseat then Prime Minister PJ Patterson.

In that contest, Foote lost to Patterson by 4,789 votes from a voter turnout of 59 per cent.

Four years later, Foote again received a hiding. But this time from then PNP councillor for the Leamington division, Luther Buchanan, in a by-election following the retiring of Patterson from representational politics. Foote on that occasion received roughly 3,300 of the ballots cast, while Buchanan polled roughly 6,400 votes.

In the 2007 general election Foote again tasted defeat, losing this time by 3,043 votes to Buchanan.

And in the most recent election, he again lost Buchanan. This time by 4,995 votes.

Foote told the Observer West yesterday that he believes that he had "sufficient enough effort to get the seat for the party so its is now time for someone else to be given a chance to apply different strategy to see if they will be more successful that I am."

He noted that he has left the constituency with a strong organisational structure, which he said, can be improved and develop on, by whoever succeeds him.

"When I went there was hardly any structure or organisation there," he noted.

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