Division in the PNP overshadowed annual conference, say political analysts

PNP President Dr Peter Phillips (right) and Peter Bunting hold hands.
PNP President Dr Peter Phillips (right) and Peter Bunting hold hands.

Some 24 hours after the curtains came down on the People’s National Party’s Annual Conference, political commentators are saying that divisions within the party overshadowed the proceedings.

The conference was held following the bruising and bitter leadership squabble between camps aligned to Dr Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting two weeks ago. Phillips won, but only by a squeaker, as he amassed a mere 76 votes more than the Manchester Central Member of Parliament.

Dr Peter Phillips speaking at PNP's annual conference.
Dr Peter Phillips speaking at PNP’s annual conference.

According to political analyst Kevin O’Brien Chang, Sunday’s public session at the National Arena in St Andrew showed disunity in the 81-year-old movement. In his view, Phillips’ speech was the standard political conference speech where goodies were promised, but “it was quite overshadowed by Mr Bunting not speaking.”

Bunting said some persons in the party did not want him to speak after it was agreed on Friday that he would address the conference for five minutes.

Political analyst Kevin O'Brien Chang
Political analyst Kevin O’Brien Chang

Chang told BUZZ that it was not a good look for the PNP, and Phillips showed “poor leadership” by not insisting that Bunting speak, as some show of unity was desperately needed to send a message to Jamaicans.

Meanwhile, Bunting’s absence from the stage also stood out for political commentator Dennis Chung.

Although he didn't speak, Peter Bunting was saluted at the PNP conference.
Although he didn’t speak, Peter Bunting was saluted at the PNP conference.

Chung said it was quite evident that more time would be needed for healing given that some “damaging things were said” during the campaign. According to him, Phillips must show “exemplary leadership” to bring everyone together. He, however, expressed optimism that the party will eventually heal due to the lure of power.

At Saturday’s private session at Jamaica College, some persons were clad in Rise United shirts, a carry-over from the Bunting campaign theme, while others shouted “One PNP”, the slogan of Phillips’ campaign.

At the public session, Phillips saluted Bunting for a spirited campaign and both held raised hands and swayed to “united we stand, divided we fall”.