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Clash of Comrades looms - Fireworks expected as PNP's second-highest decision-making body meets

Published:Friday | April 1, 2016 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall
PNP President Portia Simpson Miller (centre), flanked by senior members of the party at a meeting of its National Executice Council.

Fireworks are expected today at the first meeting of the People's National Party's (PNP) National Executive Council (NEC) since its February 25 defeat at the polls.

PNP sources last week indicated that they expect a fiery session when Comrades meet at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, starting at 10 a.m.

"People coming demanding blood, and those being blamed for the unexpected defeat are expected to feel the heavy blocks of the bats of the Comrades who are angry at the loss," said a senior PNP member late last week.

"People like the inefficient General Secretary Paul Burke will have to submit their resignation today and the 'Chairman for Life' (Robert Pickersgill) have to give us his departure timetable," added the long-time member of the NEC, the party's second-highest decision-making body.

The management committee of at least one of the PNP's six regions has reportedly passed a motion calling for the resignation of Burke, while a similar motion failed to pass in a second region.


Motions won't be voted on


But the PNP's deputy general secretary and information spokesman, Julian Robinson, told The Sunday Gleaner that any motion tabled at today's NEC meeting will not be voted on.

"Motions will be brought but the constitution speaks to a one-month notice before they can be voted on," said Robinson.

"It is the first time that the NEC will be meeting since the election and, as usual, persons will be allowed to speak freely, and I expect persons to speak their minds," added Robinson, who is chairing the committee established by the PNP to review its election defeat.

For political commentator Mark Wignall, while the issues of the PNP losing 11 seats in the general election and how it moves forward will be key agenda items today, there are other areas which the NEC must address.

"You would expect that the first item of business will be the renewal of the PNP and the question of leadership going forward as defeats bring consequences," said Wignall.

"But that will have to be handled delicately because even though the party leader lost an election she has to be treated delicately. The NEC must think on three issues: renewal, renewal, renewal, and they have to prepare for a pending local government election," added Wignall.

The PNP has scheduled a media briefing for immediately after the closed session of the NEC while the party's recently established Council of Spokespersons is scheduled to have its first meeting tomorrow, followed by a media briefing.