More woes for Hanna as loyal councillor quits executive

THE fallout among People’s National Party (PNP) members in St Ann South Eastern deepened last week with the resignation of Ian Bell, councillor for the Beecher Town Division in the constituency, from the party’s executive body there.

In a letter dated June 8, 2021, which was leaked to the public on Friday, Bell accused long-time ally Lisa Hanna of being “disrespectful” to him.

Hanna is the PNP Member of Parliament for the constituency that has been dogged by internal conflict for years and which escalated when she won the seat in the 2007 General Election.

The Jamaica Observer has been informed that a team has been assigned by the party’s hierarchy to address the long-standing dispute, with a meeting scheduled for today.

Bell — who backed Hanna during a challenge to her stewardship of the constituency in 2015 by councillor for the Bensonton Division Lydia Richards and in last year’s leadership contest — declined to comment when contacted by the Sunday Observer on Friday.

“Due to long-standing unresolved issues between myself, you and your office staff, I hereby tender my resignation from the St Ann South Eastern executive with immediate effect.

“As a long-standing loyal member [and] supporter of the People’s National Party and a councillor for the past 14 years, I believe that the disrespectful treatment that has been meted out to me by you and your staff has now become too much to bear.

“We have had several discussions surrounding these matters and instead of things changing for the better, it has steadily gotten worse. You leave me no other [alternative] but to submit this letter of immediate resignation,” the letter, which was addressed to Hanna, said.

In a Twitter post on June 7, Hanna wrote that it was difficult being a woman leader, noting that the obstacles faced are greater.

“It’s not easy being a woman anywhere. Moreover, for women leaders, the obstacles are greater, the demands are greater, the barriers are greater & the double standards are greater. Women leaders have had to pay a high price. We are often viewed as interim rallying points in times of crisis, and then have to fight men who view us as rubber stamps for their own authority,” she wrote.

She was quoting Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first woman prime minister.

Hanna, who marginally retained her seat by 32 votes in the September 3 General Election last year, has in recent weeks sought to defend herself against factions in the embattled Opposition party.

She chastised members of her party whom she accused of “bullying” and levelling “salacious accusations” against her.

The PNP spokeswoman for foreign affairs and former treasurer used her Twitter account to urge her party colleagues to desist from the daily attacks on her, declaring that they would not frighten her away from the party.

The fallout with Bell is the latest in several disputes between Hanna and her councillors in that constituency.

Two other councillors, Richards and councillor of the Claremont Division Lambert Weir, publicly supported Mark Golding in the PNP presidential contest.

In the run-up to the November leadership race, Hanna shot down criticisms of divisiveness levelled against her by some within the party, arguing that, having been in key positions over the years, her record indicates otherwise.

She said then that people have adopted and consistently passed on unfavourable narratives about her without doing their research.

The fourth-term Member of Parliament has been heavily criticised by factions in the party who have grouped her among those responsible for the PNP’s current state of disarray.

But Hanna, who has repeatedly come under fire from councillors within her constituency over her stewardship of the seat, rejected that storyline.

“My record does not speak to that. If you look at my record as regional chairman, having been elected for eight years consecutively, what you would recognise is that I presided over a region where there was absolutely no fallout in other constituencies,” she stated.

Hanna said during her chairmanship of the party’s Region One, which comprises constituencies within St Ann and Trelawny, it had been smooth sailing.

This, she said, was despite the falling out with Weir and Richards, whose challenge to her leadership fizzled.

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