There was something different in Water Square on Friday evening. Their were groups of persons in orange looking as if they were campaigning for an election. They were supporters of John-Paul White. White is aspiring to replace Patrick Atkinson as PNP caretaker for Northern Trelawny. He was in town handing out t-shirts to his supporters.
A little before 3:30 pm, the 2 groups, one supporting Atkinson, and the other supporting JP White, clashed. The sound of vuvuzelas was heard coming from the area to the left of the Falmouth Court house. Then, there erupted a big argument between Atkinson supporters on the left side of the road, and JP White supporters who were in the parking lot of the Falmouth Parish Council, adjacent to the Court House.
The argument turned into a fight and a gun was drawn. It was a tense moment as the small group tugged to and fro nonetheless, seemingly blind to the drawn firearm holder, who was now in the middle of the tussle.
The presence of the firearm, however, may just be the reason things did not escalate further out of control.
Thankfully the adversaries were freed, but then the quarrels started.
A pro JP White supporter, whose store was located right in the heart of the quarrel, had to close her store. The Pro Atkinson supporters lashed her for bringing the party into conflict. According to Atkinson’s supporters: “A she cause it.”
Among other things, Atkinson’s supporters were saying “No Atkinson, no vote” and that if it wasn’t Atkinson, then they wanted the JLP to win. Other comments were that “dem nyam out Atkinson and caan get no more, so dem waan somebody else fi nyam out.”
Why all the fuss? Many North Trelawny constituents have complained about lack of representation by their MP (Atkinson). In fact, some have said that he has not been seen since the last election in 2011, except on television (he is the Attorney General). He is seeking to again represent the constituency. Comrades who do not like his representation are seeking to replace him with another person from the corporate area, John-Paul (JP) White, who they think will do a better job if given the chance.
There were 2 other persons who had expressed interest in the seat (Paul Stewart, brother of former MP Wendell ‘Bull Bull’ Stewart and JP Whyte). Their challenges were dismissed by the party on the grounds that North Trelawny was unrecognised. To be recognized, the constituency has to organize itself into groups and pay dues to the party.
PNP General Secretary Paul Burke made this clear a month ago:
“They (the constituency) don’t qualify. They don’t have the right. Now, the party can (pick from) many options to determine the candidate. It can do what we call poll sounding, indicative conferences, interviews – try to seek a consensus candidate. The party, under the directive of the party president, is doing exactly that, and that process is in train,”
So why the new ‘life’ in John-Paul White supporters? PNP insiders claim that polls by the party has shown just how unpopular Atkinson is in the constituency. It is said that it is now not a surety that he will be chosen to represent the PNP in North Trelawny.
This video was shot after the incident.
North Trelawny is a safe PNP seat, so anyone who dons the orange colors into the next election is almost sure of being selected as Member of Parliament. Not so says the JP White supporters. They say that if Atkinson represents, then many PNP voters might not vote, which could be just enough for the party to lose.
The saga continues as North Trelawny remains the final constituency in the island that has not decided on its PNP representative for the upcoming General Elections.