‘Bring it on’
JLP’s Lawrence confident he can outmuscle PNP’s Campbell in W’land Eastern
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has scoffed at the opposition People’s National Party’s (PNP) intention to field its general secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell, as a candidate for Westmoreland Eastern in the next parliamentary election, insisting that...
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has scoffed at the opposition People’s National Party’s (PNP) intention to field its general secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell, as a candidate for Westmoreland Eastern in the next parliamentary election, insisting that the constituency will remain green.
Daniel Lawrence, the sitting member of parliament (MP) for the old stomping ground of former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, declared on Tuesday in a Gleaner interview that it will be near impossible for the PNP to pull the seat back into its fold.
“I’m prepared for anybody who comes,” asserted Lawrence, who secured the seat for the JLP over the PNP’s Luther Buchanan in a nail-biting magisterial recount in 2020.
“Bring it on! I have no objection with who wants to come, whether the name big or small,” he added.
The PNP late on Monday confirmed that Campbell and firebrand Senator Damion Crawford were assigned to Westmoreland Eastern and St Catherine North Western, respectively, ending days of speculation.
Crawford is to replace outgoing MP Hugh Graham, who was elected in 2020 and is calling it quits after one term.
But it is the appointment of Campbell, the former MP for St Ann North Western, that has raised eyebrows in some quarters.
On Tuesday, the medical doctor, who was unsuccessful in his 2020 re-election bid, said that the move is a strategic one, which has the backing of divisional leaders there.
He said that the majority of the executive body who met with the party’s hierarchy left supporting the decision, which some believe may spur further fallout in the party’s machinery in a parish once considered a stronghold.
The announcement comes weeks after supporters in Westmoreland Western protested Ian Hayles’ selection as the party’s next candidate.
“Clearly, there are still going to be persons who have reservations, but those are things that I think that we will be able to iron out as we get to interact with people and they get to know you and form their opinion,” Campbell said.
The party remains on thin ice with its supporters in the parish, many of whom withheld their votes in the September 2020 general election.
The JLP’s clean sweep of the three seats in Westmoreland was its first since the uncontested 1983 polls.
Campbell’s selection has put to rest a potential contest between Recordo Gordon and Dr Glenville Hall, the two PNP aspirants who he thanked for standing down.
He has received the support of Gordon, so far, while the party is still in discussions with Hall.
But while the PNP is ironing out its wrinkles, Lawrence maintained that he is “doing the work for the people”.
He polled 4,862 to Buchanan’s 4,851 from 117 boxes in 115 polling divisions in the constituency, where independent candidate Haile MiKa’el tallied 36 votes in the 2020 election.
The seat had been awarded to Buchanan in the final count when the returning officer broke the 4,834-all deadlock by casting the deciding vote after a lucky draw.
Lawrence was declared the winner after a magisterial recount.
Since that time, he said that he has put in the work and is expecting “good results” in the next general election, which is constitutionally due two years from now.
He stressed that the JLP’s base in the constituency can outclass the PNP’s, adding that the opposition party’s success over the years was a result of apathetic JLP supporters.
“They realise that Westmoreland can be won now by the JLP, so it will show a far different picture when the next election cycle comes around,” he said.
Lawrence said since his election, potable water has been commissioned in several areas of the constituency which had pipes running dry for decades. Among the areas included are Amity, Ashton District and Seaford Town.
At the same time, he said plans are afoot for the recommissioning of the Petersville well, and that a major road rehabilitation project is under way between the Withorn and Darliston communities. He said that this should make commuting easier for three-quarters of the constituents.
He also pointed to the completion of a $17-million road project last year, benefiting the Marchmont and Retrieve communities.
The MP said projects are also slated to begin under the Government’s $40-billion SPARK Programme on several thoroughfares.
“There are a lot of improvements coming. People would want more from the Government, but I think the Government is doing pretty good so far for Westmoreland in general.
“For my constituency, there is a lot coming. It’s just that we haven’t really seen the fruits from the tree just yet. But good things are happening, and I think over time, Labourites will be fully energised going into any election,” Lawrence said.