For those keeping an eye and listening ear on the political happenings, it would come as no surprise that three People’s National Party Councillors in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation have resigned from the party.
For weeks, the local leaders have been expressing their disapproval with any move to include Ian Hayles in the selection exercise or install him as the Party’s candidate in Western Westmoreland.
They’ve also expressed their reluctance to work with Hayles.
One of the final public indications that this was coming happened last Monday when one of those three Councillors spoke with Ricardo and I on this very programme.
That was Councillor of the Sheffield Division, Garfield James last Monday.
And a week later, James himself, an initial aspirant in the Western Westmoreland selection exercise and two other PNP councillors have registered their disapproval in what seems like one final rebellion to nudge or force the hands of the party’s leadership.
Firstly, some of you may’ve been expecting the defiant four NOT three, namely- James, Ian Myles, Lawton McKenzie and the Mayor of Savanna-La-Mar Bertel Moore.
Mayor Moore was one of the four representatives who wrote to General Secretary Dr. Dayton Campbell in May taking issue with the suitability of Ian Hayles to represent the constituency that is now in the Jamaica Labour Party’s winning column.
But where was Bertel Moore yesterday? And Why did he not resign on Monday with his colleagues?
I understand Moore had given the three Councillors his support and confirmed he’d be present at their press conference.
But at the appointed hour, Moore was missing in action.
The three Councillors I understand were certain they had his support. So what happened?
When our news centre reached out to the Mayor Moore he expressed that he had no intention to resign.
His move not to join the resistance through a resignation is for now maintaining the PNP majority in the Municipal Corporation.
And while I can speculate, I’m not certain if that played a role in Mayor Moore’s no show.
The three resignations has resulted in the Corporation now comprising of five PNP councillors, four JLP councillors and three independent councillors.
The other question is: Was their action worth it?
From the perspective of principle, I’d argue that the move was a reasonable one to take.
If you are against something, voice your opposition strongly. And the gentlemen have done just that.
On the face of it though, it seems their move has not ruffled the feathers of the party hierarchy.
The General Secretary, Dr. Dayton Campbell’s swift response Monday afternoon said just that.
To my mind it read- oh well, so it go. BYE. Have a great life. NEXT!
The statement read-
1.The party thanks them and wishes them well in their future endeavours.
2.The PNP remains steadfast and is moving forward with the organisation of Western Westmoreland.
3.It said, already the Little London division has selected its new divisional Chairman and both the Sheffield and Grange Hill divisions will follow suit at their slated conferences later this month.
This is a most unbothered General Secretary.
He’s stating that the issue of Hayles is settled and they’re going to be moving on without or without the three Councillors.
But is that it for the resistance? A swift rebuke and they’ll go silent?
If they remain resolute in their opposition to the PNP’s candidate, their influence on the ground could do a number of things.
It could eventually force the leadership to reconsider their candidate especially if the people support the position of the three Councillors.
And at this time, there are definitely unity challenges for the PNP in Western Westmoreland.
You heard some of the supporters last evening during Nationwide at 5 noting that the gentleman are active Councillors.
These are local representatives who’ve been at the wicket for several terms and have influence in Western Westmoreland.
You also heard the supporters saying many people didn’t want Hayles.
AND while it’s important for me to point out that Hayles did secure 99 per cent of the delegates votes, it’s also obvious that all is not together for the PNP in Western Westmoreland.
Keen to watch too is how the JLP will further respond to what’s playing out within the PNP in the West.
The governing party did jump in the mix yesterday too with a statement reacting to the Councillors’ resignations.
The headline read that the JLP supported their STRUGGLE for leadership of unquestioned integrity in Western Westmoreland politics.
The JLP also made sure to use the open opportunity to take a swipe at PNP leader Mark Golding in arguing that the resignations were another sign of the ongoing decline within the PNP under the leadership of Golding.
That was the opening play by the JLP whose members must be mindful that they have all to lose and will have to play their cards right.
They’ll be trying to retain these Westmoreland seats that the green tide gave them in the 2020 General elections and the PNP will be working to take them back.
While all might not be well for the PNP in Western Westmoreland now, there are many days left in politics…
The JLP has more to play for because it has more to lose and to my mind will have to be strategic with their cards regarding Western Westmoreland and by extension all the other constituencies in that parish.
One point to note is that the local government elections is coming up and that’s something for the JLP to ponder in relation to Western Westmoreland where there’s only one JLP councillor and four PNP councillors.
In playing the political cards, will one of those moves be an open invitation to James, Myles and McKenzie to join the JLP and will they accept?
More to come.
You can listen to WOMM every week day from 6:00-6:45am