Philip ‘Brave’ Davis
Glenys Hanna Martin
243 total votes.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party MP Glenys Hanna Martin said she is “most concerned” about the use of money in the PLP’s internal election campaigns, insisting yesterday the organisation needed rules to ensure delegates are free from influence when they head to the polls.
She also slammed what she sees as the undemocratic decision of the PLP to refuse her a slot to speak during its convention this week, saying the event lacks transparency and her voice as a “long-standing” and “faithful” member has been denied.
Nonetheless, Mrs Hanna Martin said she was “confident” in emerging as the party’s new leader tomorrow night.
Regarding the use of finances during internal elections, Mrs Hanna Martin said she hopes the matter can be addressed this week.
“Alfred Sears who ran for the leadership the last time has put together a number of amendments,” she told reporters on the sidelines of yesterday’s closed convention session at the Melia Nassau Beach Hotel. “I agree with a lot of them, not necessarily all, but a lot of them. We are going to have a dialogue about amendments to the constitution.
“The two I am most concerned of is the use of money in our internal election campaign. Because there are certain practices that are currently in play that would not be allowed, I don’t think, in a general election.
“Unfortunately, our constitution does not deal with those issues. And so, we want to see amendments to our constitution because we want to be sure that when people go to the polls they are not influenced by anything other than who is the best candidate pound for pound in the best interest of our party.”
Asked whether she was suggesting money may have been used to sway support for certain candidates, Mrs Hanna Martin said: “No I am not suggesting anything. I’m saying we need rules to govern how money plays out in our internal campaigns.”
In a letter sent to PLP delegates yesterday, and obtained by The Tribune, Mrs Hanna Martin complained about being denied a chance to speak at the convention.
“I write this note to you in order to bring your attention to the lack of transparency that is being associated with this ongoing convention,” the Englerston MP wrote.
“I have been advised that I will not be allowed to speak in this convention because it is said I am a ‘candidate’ for leadership. I am one of only four members of Parliament; I am leader of opposition business in the House of Assembly; I am shadow minister for multiple ministries. By this arbitrary decision, I have been denied my voice as a long-standing and faithful member of this party.”
She said the decision left her unable to present her views on the party’s progress to delegates and the country at large.
“This decision goes against the principles of democracy upon which this party is founded,” she added. “This is the party that liberated an oppressed people and championed democracy and freedom.”
She asked delegates for their support in denouncing the decision.
Earlier in the day, Mrs Hanna Martin told reporters she felt “deprived,” pointing to PLP interim leader Philip “Brave” Davis’s address at the party’s prayer breakfast early Sunday morning. The event marked the start of the organisation’s convention, which ends on Wednesday.
However, outgoing PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts maintained yesterday neither leadership candidate was scheduled to speak at any of the nightly sessions ahead of the vote.
He said the organisation thought this “would be fair,” adding that “clearly it isn’t” a case of discrimination.
“Mr Davis has already addressed a session at the prayer breakfast. That’s a part of the convention so he’s already had his voice (heard),” Mrs Hanna Martin said yesterday morning.
“I have had no opportunity. I am also a candidate as he is. He is not yet elected leader. His positioning is by default when the former prime minister, former leader (Perry Christie) of this party stepped down. There was an interim position where Mr Davis held that position.
“But he spoke yesterday (Sunday) to all the delegates. He put his vision forward. I am not going to be given that opportunity. I am concerned about that because if you have a leadership race, the first time in 20 years and the time before that was 1956.”
It appeared that Mrs Hanna Martin meant this year’s race is the first time in decades that an incumbent elected leader is not in the PLP’s leadership race.
In January, former Attorney General Alfred Sears contested the leadership post against former Prime Minister Perry Christie and was also not allowed to address delegates at the convention. The former prime minister won 1,264 votes to Mr Sears’ 169.
Mr Christie spoke at the close of the convention, after the votes were cast.
Meanwhile, Mrs Hanna Martin continued: “It’s a momentous time and if you’re telling me that the candidate ought not to be heard by the delegates? I am very surprised.
“I certainly feel deprived that I am not going to be given an opportunity to address delegates so they understand where it is I am coming from and what the expectations are,” she also said.
During the PLP’s last convention, PLP trustee Valentine Grimes said traditionally “no candidate” is allowed to speak at the party’s convention. He shot down reports at the time that the PLP’s top brass was preventing Mr Sears from addressing delegates during the event.
Mr Sears had complained he was denied an opportunity to speak at the party’s convention by organisers and said he was told he would not get the full list of voting delegates until the last day of the event, which was the day the party voted on executive posts.