With the general election in sight, and the PNP supporters smelling blood in the political water, more and more PNP supporters are going public in disavowing their current leader, Mark Golding. And the calls for Golding to demit office as OL and or for PNP MPs in the house of Parliament to write to the GG asking him to appoint a new Opposition Leader, are growing more strident with each passing day.
Sources say, so strong and bitter are anti-Golding/Bunting forces within the PNP, there is a Never-Golding Faction, determined that Mark Golding, his crony and (some say onetime, puppet-master) Peter Bunting, will never get their support to ascend to the office of Prime Minister, after the duo’s role in the PNP’s defeat in the 2020 General Elections.
The reasoning was, Bunting and Golding, as evidenced through a series of leaked emails and what-App messages, were co-conspirators determinedly and who both led a team of Party members to effectively undermine the PNP’s election chances and actively campaigned against the Party Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, to weaken him and the PNP to keep him and the PNP in Opposition, so that they could eventually take over the party by buying off delegates, and then with the creation of phony groups and delegates, propel themselves into the seat of Party Leader and then populate the Party’s Leadership/Officer Corp, with handpicked supporters of Bunting and Golding.
According to a former high-ranking member of the Party, what emerged after the 2020 Elections was evidence of a gigantic conspiracy that allegedly included: Bobby Pickersgill; Fenton Ferguson; Dayton Campbell; Richard Azan; Ian Hayles; Angela Brown-Burke; Colin Fagan; Maureen Webber; and others known and unknown, that were part of a campaign of subterfuge, misinformation, and internal destabilization that rocked the organizational foundation of the party, leading to its worse defeat in its political history.
Their plan was so successful that all of the plotters save Golding and Brown-Burke, lost their seats in the melee. But this was particularly egregious for Bunting because the plot was for him to challenge Dr. Peter Phillips after the Elections, as it was he who first telephoned then-Party Leader Portia Simpson-Miller after the 2016 Election loss, to ask her when she would be handing in her resignation. The fact that he lost his own seat to a rank political neophyte, and a national political unknown robbed him of the immediate opportunity to go after what he had coveted the most,
some say since childhood, the chance to offer himself as a contender for the Party’s top post with the hope of translating it into a victory at the next polls and catapulting him into the office of Prime Minister.
That he and all the other significant plotters lost their seats, was a major spike in what they considered their well-oiled and executed scheme, which first came to the fore when Golding, in what was considered a moment of intemperance, was thought to have ‘blurted out’ that Dr. Peter Phillips, who was polling in the Mid-30s in favourability at the time, was “Unelectable”.
It was the post-election whats-app leaked messages, that revealed that what was considered intemperance at the time, was way more than that, as it was indeed part and parcel of a campaign by a group that called themselves “Risers”, led by Bunting and Golding, dedicated hamstrung Peter Phillips and derail his election chances. That they succeeded beyond their wildest imagination, came as a shocker to them, as Bunting was without a seat, and as Dr. Phillips had announced his intended resignation as party Leader, the coveted vacancy was opening up, but Bunting was an early non-starter, as the PNP’s laws restrict those without a Parliamentary seat from its top office, and so the Risers were caught with their draws down.
Golding it is argued, was a reluctant candidate for the office of Party Leader, and only gave it serious consideration after the machinations to coerce one of the Party’s winning candidates to step aside to facilitate Bunting. And as the story goes, an accommodation/understanding was made with Anthony Hylton, to step aside for a by-election to elect Bunting. The problem arose when it was pointed out to them that Andrew Holness was not bound or would not necessarily facilitate them by calling a By-Election to fill any vacancy. And so rather than risk losing another seat, they opted to put up Golding as the proxy candidate for Bunting, to thwart not just Lisa Hanna, but all the other hopefuls such as Damion Crawford, and Julian Robinson (seen as a compromise candidate). and particularly Phillip Paulwell, Bunting’s bugbear.
What still triggers the Anti-Bunting/Golding faction, is the fact that 2-years into the Job as Party Leader, Golding is yet to find traction with the PNP base, or the wider voting population despite what they say is the abysmal performance by the Top-heavy Andrew Holness administration, beset by scandals, corruption, broken election promises escalating crime, including runway murders despite his pre-election promise/boast of people sleeping with their windows and doors open. And Golding’s pronouncement back then that Dr. Peter Phillips could not win with a 34, percent favourability rating, is now haunting him, as his meager fourteen percent rating, is better than 34. In fact, the many anti-Bunting/Golding PNP groups on social media platforms, including bloggers and vloggers routinely refer to Bunting and Golding in the condescending terms Of No-Seat Bunting and No-Tracktion Golding; or Correspondingly as Mr. Fourteen percent and No-Seat-Stunting.
So, even as Andrew Holness struggles in his own party to keep the faithful in line, and the wider society questions his credibility; Golding is yet to show that he can poll more favourably than Holness, and this is in a political climate, largely hostile to Holness and the JLP. And this has led to a core of determined Party loyalists who see the Party’s best chances in the Next Elections as better with the young and dynamic Damion Crawford, at its helm.
And so, there’s agitation plenty for Golding to step aside and make way for Crawford, to give the Party a fighting chance at the next polls. As to their mind, and reasoning, neither Bunting nor Golding with their track record of deceit and internal malfeasance, are electable or suitable. This underlines the political problem facing the duo, in the eyes of many, they are damaged goods, suffering from self-inflicted gaping that would be earned not in pursuit of political power for the party, but in the brushing internecine war they have been waging, against the Party and its leaders, First Portia Simpson-Miller, from as early as 2009, then Dr. Peter Phillips; and against party stalwarts and promissory individuals such as Phillip Paulwell, Lisa Hann, and Damion Crawford.
It is said that Councillor Venesha Phillips is a sworn political enemy of Golding and Bunting, as she cannot and will not forgive them for hijacking the party, its political machinery, and the dirty tricks campaign they engaged in to defeat the PN. Some on their side hit back by saying: ’That’s rich, coming from Venesha, because if she never undermined Andre Hylton in his bid for re-election in 2016, the PNP would not have lost power and the Party and Country would not be in the mess it is’.
Of one thing we can be certain, Mark Golding’s path to Jamaica House will and must include a coalition of disaffected JLP supporters; disgruntled independents, turned off by high Crime, rising Inflation, and the steady diet of Corruption. But so far, the anecdotal evidence and polling data, suggest he is an early-non-starter, despite the fact that the Holness administration is imploding each day it continues in the office!
Hence some have indeed concluded that Mark Golding has become an Albatross around the PNP’s Neck. stifling its electoral chances whilst draining the party’s lifeblood of loyal supporters, and turning off independents.