The recently retired Member of Parliament for North West St. Andrew, Derrick Smith, is calling on the hierarchy of the Jamaica Labour Party, JLP, to follow its constitution in selecting a standard bearer to contest the seat.
Smith’s son, Duane, and Dr. Nigel Clarke are the candidates being considered by the party. They were both interviewed by a selection committee on Friday.
Dr. Clarke is reported to be the JLP’s preferred choice. But Smith says the party’s delegates in the constituency should be the ones to decide who contests the by-election.
Duane Smith’s political resume, apart from being the son of the current MP, consists of two terms as Councilor for the Chancery Hall Division in his father’s constituency.
While Dr. Nigel Clarke, new to representational politics, has had the ear of the Prime Minister for the past two years as an advisor, economic ambassador and Vice Chair of the Economic Growth Council.
Clarke is said to be the party’s favourite for what’s considered a JLP safe seat. The elder Smith is questioning whether there’s a plot to bypass the party’s constitution to hand-pick Clarke.
According to Smith, Rule 18 of the JLP’s constitution stipulates that the party’s delegates in the constituency should decide who becomes their standard bearer.
And, he says it’s extremely odd that there’s been no consultation with him as the outgoing MP.
Smith says he accepts that he doesn’t have the right to foist his personal choice on the party. He says he just wants them to follow the rules. And he says things could get messy if they don’t.
Meanwhile, Smith says his son has cleared up concerns about his suitability to sit in Parliament.
These concerns reportedly had to do with the younger Smith’s finances and business dealings. He says Duane explained what happened, and presented letters from his bankers to the JLP’s selection committee on Friday.