Golding on his ‘Mark’ for any potential challenge

Just in case a member of the People’s National Party (PNP) feels like challenging incumbent President Mark Golding, he has three words for that individual: Bring it on.

The Opposition leader and head of the 83-year-old political organisation does not expect to be taken on for the position during the party’s annual voting conference though, usually held in September and is on target to be staged this year despite COVID-19 considerations, although the possible methods have not been outlined yet.

“I don’t think there is any suicidal person around,” a confident Golding uttered to the Jamaica Observer while being interviewed last Thursday. “While we do not expect it, we are always prepared for it,” he carried on.

“More people are supporting me now than those who supported me in November. Even bloggers who used to ‘bun me out’ are now supporting me. There are only a few holdouts and I don’t know what’s motivating them to hold out, because there are some people who I think have a separate agenda, selfish agenda, an anti-party agenda, and I can’t speak for those people,” he said, the November (7) reference pointing to his triumph over Lisa Hanna by almost 300 votes in the internal party race, necessitated by the resignation of Dr Peter Phillips as PNP president.

Potential challenge aside though, the focus is on finalising a candidate list for municipal elections due now, rather than looking at potential candidates for general elections. And neither is he going to perspire any further on matters relating to the party’s embattled general secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell, who has been embroiled in a civil court matter, for which calls have been made for Campbell to temporarily vacate the chair — a move that Golding disagrees with.

“The focus has been more on divisions rather than constituencies right now because the local government election is expected anytime between now and next February, so we are focused on getting candidates in the divisions and that’s going reasonably well,” the party president said during a late week interview with the Jamaica Observer.

In terms of constituencies, we are in discussion with some people to go to constituencies that we think ought to be in our column and have been in our column for many years, but we weren’t able to keep, and we are working with them. Some of them may not come on board as candidates because we are nowhere near an election right now, but get involved in the constituency, get involved in the constituency organisation, the party workers, get the people to know them and in time they will transition into being candidates. So we are in discussion with a few people around that, and we hope to continue with that.

Golding said that so far, two PNP candidates from the November 3, 2020 General Election — Dwayne Vaz in Westmoreland Central, and Victor Wright in Trelawny Northern — had told him that they were not interested in focusing on elective politics at this time.

Others, he said, who contested the last election, had not made up their minds.

“In the case of Vaz, he said that he will still continue to support the interests of the party, but right now he has to focus on his personal situation. We spoke last Saturday, he is fully on board with helping the party, but right now I don’t think he wants to be a candidate,” Golding said. “Politics has impacted the personal financial situation of some candidates. They had put their personal business on the back burner and are now trying to sort themselves out.”

He said he has the confidence that the people who did not support him in the presidential bid will turn around and do so now.

“The party has a tradition of doing that. The party, the movement is bigger than any of us. The fact that somebody might have preferred another candidate in an internal race does not mean that he no longer wants to support the party. All of the officers have committed to a process of unity, committed in writing, so I expect them to live up to that standard.”

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