PRESIDENT of the People’s National Party (PNP) Dr Peter Philips is facing mutiny in the ranks of his shadow cabinet over his decision to return the outspoken Dr Dayton Campbell to the party’s list of spokespersons.
PNP sources say at least one influential member of the shadow cabinet has already indicated that he will be resigning, with some sources claiming that his resignation letter has already been submitted to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
Another key Phillips backer has demanded an urgent meeting with him, as that shadow cabinet member is reportedly adamant that they will not sit around the table with someone who was disrespectful to the party’s president during the leadership campaign.
“It was a keen contest and things were said by several members of both sides that hurt, but the feeling is that Dayton was openly rude, crass, vulgar and disrespectful,” a PNP source told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
“Persons are not yet at the point where they have forgiven him and for the party leader to bring him back into the fold so soon, and worse to let it appear that he will be leading the team to draft the party’s manifesto, has upset those who he disrespected,” added the source.
Campbell was the lightning rod in the campaign by Peter Bunting to replace Phillips as PNP president last September and was left out of the shadow cabinet named by the returned president after the bitter race.
But on Tuesday Phillips announced the return of Campbell as shadow minister with responsibility for special projects and said his immediate task was to prepare an implementation programme for priority projects across all ministries, to be undertaken by a administration in the first 150 days.
According to Phillips, the focus of such an implementation schedule is to jump-start the process to transform social and economic inequalities which exist in the country and which have dogged the nation for centuries, creating deep divisions between the haves and the have-nots.
While confirming the resignation threats, a senior member of the shadow cabinet yesterday told the Observer that since Tuesday persons have been in talks with the member who has threatened to resign.
“Right now the word is unity. We have an election to win and we need all Comrades on board. Dayton said some things about me, too, but that is water under the bridge. I don’t know if [the member who has threatened to resign] has seen how petty he will look and the damage that could do to his brand,” said the senior member of the shadow cabinet.
For his part, Campbell has rejected claims that he is being a hypocrite by accepting a place among the team of spokespersons led by Phillips who, while on the campaign trail, he declared could not lead the PNP to an election victory.
Hours after his appointment was announced on Tuesday, Campbell told the Observer that people who described him as being hypocritical do not understand the democratic process.
“The democratic process means that you campaign for who you are putting forward based on the variables that you are looking at, at that point in time, but certainly that you have to accept the will and wishes of the people,” said Campbell.
“The only way for us to implement our programmes and policies to create that egalitarian society is by being in Government, and so I offer my full service to that process to ensure that we can have a very good rescuing Government and in doing so that we win for the people and not ourselves,” added Campbell, who will be seeking to hold on to the St Ann North Western constituency, which is one of those expected to be targeted by the Jamaica Labour Party in the next general election.