Patterson meets his MPs, candidates today
Friday, January 11, 2002
PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP) president and prime minister, P J Patterson, will today meet with the party's members of parliament and candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections, at Le Meridien Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
"It is the regular meeting at the beginning of the year where the party leader sets the tone and the agenda for the party for the ensuing year," said Maxine Henry-Wilson, the party's general-secretary.
But Patterson's meeting with the party's parliamentary group and candidates takes on added significance this year with parliamentary elections due by yearend.
According to party source, the PNP president is expected to stress the need for candidates to complete political canvassing in each constituency.
In the December 18, 1997 general election, the PNP won an unprecedented third term, gaining 50 of the 60 seats, while the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party gained 10 seats.
But the latest polls done for the Observer by the Stone Polling Organisation has the PNP behind the JLP, although the party has, since August, been promoting what it calls its "solid achievements".
The latest polls, commissioned in November and published on December 9 showed the JLP had 25.6 per cent support, the PNP 20.2 per cent, while Antonnette Haughton-Cardenas' United People's Party had 4.7 per cent.
Patterson was also trailing JLP leader, Edward Seaga, in the poll when Stone asked Jamaicans who they thought was best to lead the country at this time.
However, PNP officials claimed that polls commissioned by their party have shown an improvement in its standing. Neither figures for that survey nor the name of the pollster were provided.
Patterson in September released two Cabinet ministers, Maxine Henry-Wilson and Dr Paul Robertson, of their portfolio responsibilities and sent them full-time on preparing the party for the next elections.
Henry-Wilson is also a candidate in the next general election, while Robertson was named campaign director.
Henry-Wilson told the Observer that in recent months the PNP has been focusing on "finalising candidate selection" as well as carrying out consultation for the development of the party's election manifesto.
Candidates, she said, are still to be confirmed in four constituencies -- North Trelawny, West St Andrew, South Central St Catherine and North Central St Andrew.
Today's confab is being held ahead of a full Cabinet meeting scheduled for next Monday and dedicated to formulating solutions for crime, which Jamaicans have, for the past few years, listed as the country's biggest problem.