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PM: Kari Douglas has a future in politics

Jamaica Observer 2020-02-13 11:01:13

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has welcomed the switch by former People's National Party Councillor Kari Douglas to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which surprised some political pundits.

Speaking outside Gordon House following the ceremonial opening of Parliament Tuesday, Holness said Douglas, who is sitting councillor for the Trafalgar Division in St Andrew, has a future in politics.

“She has the willingness and has demonstrated the ability to serve. The party would be very happy to have her and would certainly support her in fulfilling her dream of continuing representational politics,” he stated.

Douglas, who is the daughter of late former Cabinet Minister Easton Douglas, who had served across several PNP Administrations, accused the PNP of seeking power by any means necessary.

“For some time, I have been deeply concerned that my former party has become a political organisation which is primarily focused on winning elections at any cost, as opposed to pursuing an unswerving commitment to national development, and in that process, listening to the people and creating policies to meet their needs,” she said in a press statement.

General secretary of the People's National Party (PNP), Julian Robinson has, meanwhile, dismissed statements made by Kari Douglas justifying her reasons for walking away from the organisation.

Robinson also told Observer that the PNP was not surprised by the move.

“There is no basis for that. We have a long history of being a party that has been committed to developing the country and we have done that not just within Government but outside as well. Even when we have been in Opposition we have put forward constructive policies that have enabled and helped the country to move forward,” he said.

Douglas also contended that the party does not facilitate the ideas of young people or take them seriously.

“I have decided that enough is enough,” she said.

“It's not true,” Robinson rebutted.

“We have 22 candidates who are young professionals, people who are successful in their own right, who are coming to the party.

More recently you have Andre Haughton, Winston De La, Haye, and Walton Small — there are a number of persons who have decided that they want to represent the PNP so the evidence doesn't speak to that.

Young people are coming to the party, are continuing to seek to serve the party and are contributing and have embraced in a meaningful way,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, the general secretary said the PNP is well advance in selecting a replacement for the Trafalgar Division.

“We are going to work well to retain the division on behalf of the PNP. We wish her well, she has made her decision, and we move on,” he said.

Douglas had indicated that she expected some backlash from the PNP, but that “given the dynamic leadership with a positive difference that Prime Minister Holness has been able to offer the country and the JLP over the past few years, I am certain and in absolutely no doubt that I have made the right decision”.

The councillor said she has had to rethink past political ideologies and affiliation.

In 2016, she defeated JLP newcomer Fabian Brown for the division, which was once dominated by the JLP, to win her second-straight election.

Three years later there were signs of trouble brewing when Douglas resigned from the Building and Town Planning Committee of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, under pressure from Phillips' supporters in the council.

This came on the heels of the bitter leadership run-off between PNP leader Dr Peter Phillips and Central Manchester Member of Parliament Peter Bunting last October, which saw the party divided into two camps.

Chairman of the governing JLP Robert Montague, General Secretary Dr Horace Chang and the JLP youth arm, Young Jamaica, have also welcomed Douglas to the governing party.

– Alphea Saunders