The Fruits Of That Intemperate But Calculated Challenge!

Those who remember Peter Bunting, from his days at Campion, the High School for the privileged, remember that his stated ambition was to become Prime Minister of Jamaica.
That was roughly 45 years ago.
Those who have followed Dr. Peter Phillips’s evolution from Nyhabingi celebrating Rastafari to Leading Statesman and globally respected Politician will attest to the fact that he too has shared the ambition of being Prime Minister since he became aware that this was a possibility after he entered the public sphere.
He too, like Peter Bunting, is a son of privilege!
Upon analyzing and dissecting the motivational driver behind the ambition of these two men, what is clear, at least to some, is that whilst Dr. Peter Phillips has been dutiful in serving, paying his dues, and is mostly motivated by altruism, Peter Bunting’s approach has been different, in that he has always been willing to be the spoiler, gate-crasher even, in furtherance of his own ambition, as against seeking and building consensus, to achieve his goal.

Peter Bunting
Portia Simpson – Miller

For ‘Observers’, Peter Bunting’s Challenge for the Leadership of the Peoples’ National Party, was not a matter of if, but a matter of when, as Bunting declared his political hand, way back when, at a time when Portia Simpson-Miller was the Leader Of The Opposition and Bunting, General Secretary of the PNP, and mistakenly thought Mrs. Simpson-Miller, had lost the confidence of the majority of the Jamaican people, and thought her vulnerable, and thus, capable of being defeated!

Truth be told, Mrs. Simpson-Miller had indeed lost the confidence of a segment of the Electorate, but it was a segment that she never cornered anyway, which was those who considered themselves the elite, and never failed to try and disparage her, on their verandahs and at their sixes-and-nines, country-homes and or beachfront properties.
Simpson-Miller However, at that time, enjoyed the confidence of those who mattered – The Voting Masses – and she rightly, considered her opposition, of no moment!. In retrospection, it would appear, Bunting was advised of this, so his foolhardy challenge was shelved, and he bided his time, for what he considered a more opportune moment.
At the time that Peter Bunting was plotting his expected coup d’etat, Dr. Peter Phillips was busy plotting his own. Like Peter Bunting, he was too clued into his own supporters, to discern that history, momentum, or the delegates were wavering. and so foolishly pressed on with his challenge, having lost out on his bid, to succeed the retiring PJ Patterson.
That Mrs. Simpson-Miller lost the 2016 General Election, came as a blessing in disguise for the two Peters; as they both were aggressively engaged behind the scenes, ‘working out’ and or ‘engineering’, her resignation, with the hope of succeeding her.

Dr Peter Phillips

After much backstabbing and posturing, the delegates agreed, that Dr. Peter Phillips was the man at the moment, having served his ‘apprenticeship’, and so it was now his time to be anointed.
Now, from their history and evolution, students and or observers of the PNP knew, that Dr. Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting, were on a collision course and it would soon be a matter of time before these two political Stars collide!
Peter Bunting’s fear, was always, that he, a relative ‘outsider’, the political deck was stacked against him, and he feared that Mrs. Simpson-Miller, had she succeeded in winning the 2016 General Election, would use her sway to usher her ‘protege’ Phillip Paulwell, in, and thus leaving him on the sideline, as the commonly held view, was that there was no political love lost, between Mrs. Simpson-Miller and Dr. Phillips and or his camp, and so that left a clear path for Phillip Paulwell, to the Presidency!
But let us back-pedal a little, to acknowledge the fact that had the PNP been fully engaged in the 2016 Elections, The JLP might easily have remained in opposition, but there were far too many overly ambitious players in the Party, who sought political elevation, and so did not give it their all, thinking that the Party would still take home a victory, even if their “Candidate” did not.
The minute it became clear, however, that the PNP would not win, the long-knives were out and the back they were seeking to carve up was that of Mrs. Simpson-Miller, with the Bunting ‘Camp,’ telephoning her late that night, to find out, when she would be handing in her resignation, as Party Leader?
Now, those around Dr.Peter Phillips were no shrinking violets themselves, as they were working off the presumption that he was indeed destined to be Party Leader and Prime Minister, so they too saw the defeat as advantageous, and that it was in their best interest to strike ‘now’, rather than be overtaken in the expected race, for the office of the Presidency, as it had ‘slipped through their fingers’, at least once before.
And so the plot to succeed, only thickened! And by the time Dr. Peter Phillips ascended to the Office, the Bunting Camp, (a small core of friends and political supporters), was already engaged in plotting the political demise of Dr. Peter Phillips’s led PNP, and Bunting’s expected rise to the top, but not docilely so, as indeed, there are those who contend, that Bunting had been meticulously plotting his ascension from day one of Peter Phillips’s Presidency, to the point of undermining Phillips, to set the stage for his eventual Challenge.
To this end, many argue, that his support for Damion Crawford, in the East Portland By-Election, was tepid at best, as it was factored as the base for the Challenge, and many thought him working in cahoots with the Vazes, to achieve this!
Curiously however, if Bunting’s challenge, was always stewing, few in the Phillips Camp, saw it as being a clear and immediate danger and did nothing to strengthen Peter Phillips’s hold on the Party, and so the Challenge, when it was announced, caught them napping. Truth be told, it did catch a number of Bunting’s supporters, off guard as well, and many questioned the wisdom of the ‘Timing’.
Now, while Dr. Peter Phillips had a history of Party and Ministerial successes as his foundation going into the race, Peter Bunting had no such resume, but was thought financially capable and able to mount a credible challenge and during the process, sold himself to the Delegates of the PNP and the People of Jamaica, who were not fully seized of his history and or record, with many seeing him as aloof.
Peter Phillips, on the other hand, automatically secured the support of the PNP establishment; and Peter Bunting tapped into a growing sense of disenchantment that was bedeviling the Peter Phillips tenure, as, after three years of what was arguably a disastrous JLP administration, The PNP had failed miserably to capitalize on the growing disenchantment, to raise its own political fortunes.
So, with fatigue and hopelessness setting in the ranks of the PNP, it was time for Dr. Phillips to either relaunch his Presidency to try and recapture and focus the energies of the PNP, as up until then, many thought him stable, but lackluster, and thus a weak candidate to put up against Holness, for the next general elections, with an eye on Gen-x voters.

Mark Golding

The problem for Bunting, however, was whilst some had grown disaffected with Peter Phillips, precious few, outside of Bunting’s coterie, saw him as the man to lead the Party, so his was always going to be an uphill struggle – awash with funding or not! Interestingly though, whilst Bunting was not showing up on Comrade’s radars, his loyal Lieutenant, Mark Golding was, and this led to many seeking out Mark Golding, with entreaties and supplication in an effort to seduce him with the prospects and beseeched to throw his hat in the political ring, as the PNP was indeed ready, for a change!
Golding would not have it, however, declaring to those who dared to broach the subject, that he had no such political ambition, and that he was there to support his friend and longtime business partner, Bunting. And so, Bunting, even though this was his lifelong ambition, actually became the Challenger, by default!
Now on paper, Peter Bunting was the ideal Challenger, well-to-do; aspirational; young, gifted and black. On the other hand, Dr. Peter Phillips, who had been tried, tested, and proven, was being typecast as over-the-hill, stodgy, and not only past his time but passed his prime.
And so the campaign platform and agenda was defined and set, not by Dr. Phillips and his team, but by the Challenger, Peter Bunting and his team, who almost universally declared that Dr. Phillips, a long-serving servant of the party, who had served his party and country, diligently and dutifully, was no longer good enough, as he was ‘suddenly’ “unelectable”.
In response, the Phillips team hit back, accusing the Bunting camp of not only trying to derail the Party’s chances at the polls with an unnecessary and ill-timed challenge, but they also accused him, of trying to buy the Presidency of the PNP.
Seemingly hyperbolic to some, but the truth be told, there were business models out there, drawn up by financiers and power brokers, who had come to the conclusion that Peter Bunting could not win a fair and square PNP Presidential Election, but he could buy one.
To this end, various models were set up, highlighting just how much such a venture would cost, and the breakdown…vis-a-vis, some delegates were more equal than others, so the cost per delegate would vary based on import and pull.
The same would apply to some national figures in the party, and its satellites/surrogates. The end result was a substantial sum was arrived at, as the price Bunting would have to pay, to win the leadership race!
And so whilst some thought and predicted Bunting was thought capable and able of “Buying” the PNP Presidency, few thought the incumbent, Dr. Phillips, was capable, or prepared to, him being a man of principle..
Traditionalists however, thought what he had in his favor, however, was his reputation as a principled man; and the mistrust, with which some senior members of the PNP, held Bunting, (who was viewed as an opportunistic usurper). In the final analysis, however, the consensus was, the battle would be decided, yes, by money, using social media influencers; outreach; and direct contact as pound for pound, this was not a battle that either challenger or incumbent could wage based on charisma.
As the campaign got well and truly underway, it became increasingly clear, that when it came to social media presence, the Bunting team, was light years ahead of the Phillips team. Sadly, what became even more evident, is the fact that many-a-blogger and ‘Social-Media-Warriors’, fighting for Bunting, went low, instead of taking the high ground. Instead of seeking to extol the virtues of their candidate, they took to chastising all and sundry, but especially those who opposed the Challenge.
Some have argued that the shrillness that characterized the Bunting Social-Media presence, when compared to that of the Peter Phillips people, was the ‘fact’ that whilst Bunting People were paid employees, (at least some of them), Phillips’s people were volunteers, who dared not despoil their integrity. That being said, however, it was not long, before the Phillips people, joined in reducing the campaign from one where ideas contend to a tracing match or cass-cass, as the Phillips Influencers and Vloggers, went off script and began attacking Bunting and the leading personalities, that identified with his challenge, for good measure.
Weeks into the Campaign, the Bunting camp was winning the battles, but losing the war, as their bloggers, influencers, spokes-persons, and supporters had shifted their discourse completely off message, (whatever the message was) to that of vilifying their opponents, and created their own echo-chamber of vitriolic bile and misrepresentation, that was so vile, it would have made a ‘back-road prostitute’ blush! And so, whatever momentum the headliners were making, their messengers were nullifying, as believe it or not, the party stalwarts, were not amused!
And so it was, that as the challenge, neared the finish line, many in the private sector and individuals, who had earlier decided on sitting out the Challenge, decided that, this was no longer an option, and so they joined the fray, with pledges and cheques, with the view of pushing their candidate over the top, as they thought things were getting a little too close for comfort, and so they waded in, with Peter Phillips, being the beneficiary of this last-minute push!
The Clincher, however, that sealed the deal for the Phillips Camp, was the decision to isolate a block of delegates from the merriment and merrimaking on D-Day, as instead of transporting their delegates en block to the voting arena, delegates from out of town were ‘sequestered’ in hotels, across the nation’s capital, and ‘shepherded’ by Marshalls, as they were regarded as a firewall, against the supposed Bunting juggernaut.
In the end, the Bunting Camp claimed it had secured the commitment of 1840 of the 2800 plus delegates, which according to them, left them with an insurmountable lead.
Correspondingly, Phillip Paulwell, of the Peter Phillips’s Camp, advised that they had managed to canvass and amass the support of a more modest 1500 delegates, with a hoped-for last-minute surge, that would see them nearer to polling 1600 votes.
D-Day however, all punditry was out the window, as it was very clear, that the expected rush that 1840 Delegates would bring, was not materializing, and so a pall of gloom began setting on the Bunting Camp, and his supporters began questioning their numbers, whilst Phillips’s Camp, was cautiously optimistic. Evidenced by the fact that as voting was trending down, calls to the Bunting Camp and key Bunting associates went unanswered, but calls to the Phillps Camp, were not only answered but were greeted with the affirmation that “We are holding”.
Well, after the polls were closed and counting got underway, there was a flutter in the Bunting Camp, and some were seen celebrating, as the quiet expectancy of the evening was broken with “news” that the Bunting Camp, had managed to pull off the Mother of All Upsets, with a 300vote win over Phillips.
Well, that did not pan out and “held” the Peter Phillips Camp did, and instead of the Landslide victory that the Bunting Team was predicting, from the get-go to the lowered suggested victory, it was the Peter Phillips Camp that emerged victorious with, 70-plus votes shy, of their 1500 holding number, leaving Bunting and his team in a near 500-plus precipice, despite outspending his opponent, at a near 3-1 margin.
Now, having lost in their bid to unseat Dr. Phillips for the Presidency of the Party, as men of great character and sportsmanship were wont, many expected Peter Bunting and his team, to reunite around Dr. Phillips, to face Andrew Holness, in the General elections. But this was not the Playbook, Peter Bunting and his team were using.

Robert Pickersgill

So, instead of harnessing and directing their energy into fighting the Government, Bunting nd his team of miscreants, misfits, and opportunists, began a counter-insurgency within the PNP, designed to completely undermine, and weaken Peter Phillips and the PNP, for the Next General Elections. In essence, Peter Bunting, Mark Golding, Dayton Campbell, Brown-Burke, Pickersgill, Maureen Webber, et al, were working for the JLP, its plan, to secure a JLP Victory, force Dr. Phillips into retirement, creating a leadership void, that Bunting was hoping to walk right into.

Dr. Dayton campbell

To achieve their objective, the decision was taken that none of ‘Team Bunting’s’ Members, would appear at any political function, on stage with Dr. Phillips; They created a WhatsApp group, that was a Group within the PNP that would be their primary communication platform, from which they would strategize and update each other on what their latest nefarious plans were, to destabilize the PNP and its Leader; they started a whispering campaign, that was later vocalized by Mark Golding, that essentially asserted that Dr. Phillips was unelectable; and even worse, they actively campaigned within the PNP, advising their supporters to stay away from the Polls, on election day, for their assertion to become a self-fullfilling prophecy.

Maureen Webber

To this day, many in the PNP, are still amazed at the nasty, low-life, guttersnipe and pedestrian tactics, unleashed on the PNP, from within the PNP, by the Bunting-led group, that would come to identify itself as “Risers’.
The totality of their abject nastiness would only come to light, months after the PNP’s defeat, in Leaked WhatsApp messages, from within the group, after promises made by the Bunting ‘Risers” hierarchy, were not kept.

Rhoda Crawford

And this might have never come to light had it not been for the fly in the ointment named Rhoda Crawford, a political neophyte; a no-name, no-body, who many pundits thought was nothing more than a sacrificial lamb, came out of nowhere and gave Peter Bunting, the Mother o political backslidings
With Peter Bunting’s defeat, and Dr. Phillips’s self-imposed departure timetable, the Cat was truly among the pigeons. But by the time the dust had settled and the postmortems of the 2020 General Election had been completed and submitted, it became clear, that all the Risers and or their sympathizers, but two; Mark Golding and Angela Brown-Burke, had fallen victims of their own plot – They had lost their Parliamentary seats, leaving them in quite a prekkeh, as there would be NO Peter Bunting, rising from the Ashes of the PNP, like a phoenix to claim the PNP Leadership and Presidency, as having flown too close to the sun, his wings were singed and he fell, rather unceremoniously from the firmament of the political Gods to the earth, where he belonged.
Now ever the mindless dolt, but dutiful Soldier, With Bunting out of the running for the position of PNP Presidency, enter Mark Golding, ill-fitted, ill-prepared, and ill-tempered, but stepped in to prevent any other being elected, not on the strength of his own vision and or candidacy, but as servile loony, beholden to the dictates of his Business partner and friend.
And so, with a job-lot crew consisting of the usual “Risers” suspects, Mark Golding entered the PNP Presidential race and prevailed on the strength of his cash, or that of his backers.
And thus began the second stage of the PNP’s political penury.
Now, poor Mark Golding, born with a silver shovel in his mouth, was never endowed with the gift of political gab; wit; or the common touch. And from the day he ascended to the coveted seat of the PNP Presidency, has been limping along, like a man with a date with the executioner.
Dubbed Mr 14% by his detractors, within the PNP, the irony cannot be lost on Golding, himself, who it was who declared that Dr. Phillips who was polling, at 34 percent, was unelectable, but Golding was polling and still polling at 14%., is somehow electable with 14%, is simply stupefying.
So here we are with Golding in this Catch-22 Scenario, Andrew Holness and the JLP are polling at their lowest since their outlier of 2020, but Golding is still failing, and miserably, to make any inroads into improving his own favourability numbers.
So, whilst Andrew Holness and his JLP are in what appears to be a terminal decline, there’s no commensurate gain for Golding. In fact, one recent poll showed that The PNP as a Party, is Polling Way better than Mark, Bunting And the Risers put together. So, if the Bunting Golding Doctrine is to be followed to the letter, then the time is right, to Challenge Golding for the Leadership of the PNP.
It could all go wrong, if it materializes, and secure another term for Holness and the JLP, but the difference between a Golding Challenge, and the Bunting Challenge, is that the People are looking to golding for answers, and he’s like a Deer caught in the headlights – Clueless; So, it’s safe to extrapolate that a challenge to Golding’s leadership will be better receive and supported by a wider-crosssection of the electorate than was the Bunting’s, dependent on who’s the challenger; messaging, and the challenger’s ability, (Should he or She Succeed), to unite the party around his/her vision for a new Jamaica. As the Electorate is just waiting for leadership from the Opposition, to take down Andrew Holness and his faltering administration, whenever he chooses to “Call it”!

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

As for those predicting A JLP win, its important to remember that, Andrew Holness, was not as popular as Portia Simpson-Miller, when he secured an upset one-seat majority, over her in 2016. And the 2020 Victory, was really a no contest, as the PNP Voters and Supporters, largely stayed home, and those who did not, were actively or passively supporting the JLP. Interestingly, however, the JLP ‘won’ with 30.000 fewer votes than they garnered in 2016. Well, since then, Andrew Holness has painted himself in a corner, where like Golding, his Party, is polling substantially much better than he is, and it would appear, that with each passing day and new revelation of corruption, acts of incompetence and maladministration, he grows more unpopular,. In fact, he is so unpopular right now, even the reliable JLP base is threatening to sit out the next General Elections, as many PNP supporters did, in 2020. If they follow through, then all of this profiling and merrymaking, is for naught, as it may well be all over, save and except, the tears and bewilderment, that is to come!

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