Current Affairs

Current Affairs




No dirty cash for PNP vote
PNP unveils code of conduct for leadership race
Observer Reporter, Monday, July 26, 2004


Prime Minister and President of the People's National Party PJ Patterson makes a point during his address to the party's National Executive Council at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston yesterday afternoon. (Photo: Karl McLarty)

THE People's National Party yesterday unveiled detailed procedures - including fund-raising rules and the expected behaviour of candidates - for the election of its next president.

But Prime Minister P J Patterson raised the possibility of a vote other than by the first-past-the-post system, which was used for his own election in 1992 and his predecessor, Michael Manley, in 1969.

"Still to be discussed, and decided, is whether the winner will be first-past-the-post," Patterson told a meeting of the PNP's National Executive Council (NEC) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

Justice Minister AJ Nicholson (left) has the full attention of National Security Minister Peter Phillips (right) and former Housing Minister Karl Blythe during a meeting of the People's National Party's National Executive Council at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston yesterday. (Photo: Karl McLarty)

"This (the voting system to be used in the election) is not the document," Patterson said. "What is in the document has been approved by the NEC."

Patterson, 68, long ago announced that he will not lead the PNP in the next general election, due in 2007, and several aspirants have been jockeying for favourable positions to enter the leadership race.

The PNP president lectured those seeking his job on the need to maintain party unity during the campaign and to be careful about the source of the money used to fund their campaigns.

"I don't intend for the party to descend to a level of internal dispute," he said. "We have principles for which we stand. It is not based on the leader's personality."

On the issue of funding, he said: "We cannot allow the outcome to be decided by money, or for contamination. There is going to be a limit on spending. The party must know the source of donations."

In unveiling the code of conduct for the contest, Patterson rejected that either he or the PNP was being influenced by the recent announcement by beleaguered Opposition Jamaica Labour Party leader Edward Seaga that he will step down during the JLP's annual conference in November.

Nonetheless, it is widely held that Seaga's announcement and the likely election of the popular front-runner, Bruce Golding, to lead the JLP is helping to concentrate minds in the PNP, which will be seeking a fifth consecutive term in office at the next election.

Last night, analysts suggested that it was significant that the PNP, in the code of conduct, placed substantial emphasis on campaign funding in the election campaign, saying it was a subtle way of declaring a difference between itself and the JLP, which has been wracked by controversy over the financing of internal elections.

For instance, during the JLP's deputy leaders' contest last November, Seaga accused James Robertson, who beat his preferred candidate, Olivia "Babsy" Grange, of vote-buying and Roberston's campaign of using "dirty money".

The JLP backed away from the accusation but the charge of delegate bribing and intimidation was later raised by the party's East Portland caretaker, Dr Dennis Minott, who, unsuccessfully sought to have the allegation investigated by the political ombudsman.

In the section of the code of conduct dealing with financial accountability, the PNP said it will impose a limit on campaign spending by candidates and would decide on whether to impose "a maximum limit on individual cash donations to each of their candidates and their official agents".

"All donations in cash or kind," the PNP warned, "should be accepted based on a 'know your donor' principle."

Anonymous donations or donations in fictitious names, the code of conduct stipulated, should be refused and there should be due diligence to identify and to report suspicious transactions "so as to protect against dirty money contaminating the process".

But the PNP said that it will take a portion of all donations to candidates for the central treasury, although the percentage is yet to be decided.

This was to ensure, Patterson said, "that while the grass is growing the party horse does not starve".

Broadly, the PNP's document calls for the embracing of the existing political code of conduct between itself and the JLP and outlines all that should be put in place to eliminate "paper groups" and fictitious delegates so as to ensure a fair and verifiable process.

"It is important that the process be such as to leave a paper trail which can be used after the election to verify or reject any challenge made to the overall result," it said.

Said the section dealing with the transition process: "A clean, intelligent and vigorous campaign by the candidates can be beneficial to them individually and the party generally. Each candidate seeking to project the vision of the future of the party and the country can do much to reignite enthusiasm for the political process.

"It is necessary to remind those who are actually standing for election that the campaign should not be conducted in such a way as to damage the good name of the party by way of personal attacks on other candidates."

This element of the code substantially echoed Patterson's own admonition to the aspirants, reminding that nothing should be done to the "detriment of the party" and reminding that at the end of the race "we must be able to unite as one".
Said Patterson: "Several aspirants are cabinet members and during the campaign they will still be bound by the doctrine of collective responsibility. So in listing your successes as minister you must remember you were part of a team.

"If you have a concern with a contestant who is also a minister, the concerns must be discussed in the Cabinet. Other concerns must be discussed within the party. You don't win by showing how bad your rival is, but by showing how competent you can be."

Related Stories

PJ: Don't take tainted money, Jamaica Gleaner, Monday, July 26, 2004

No dirty cash for PNP vote, PNP unveils code of conduct for leadership race
The Jamaica Observer, Monday, July 26, 2004

Code of Conduct for PNP Leadership Campaign, KINGSTON, (PNP HQ). 2004 July 26

People's National Party

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