The troubles of the nation’s oldest political movement have been grist for the public mill for several weeks, if not months now, as is to be expected after thumping back-to-back defeats in a by-election in a seat which it held comfortably and recent municipal elections. The process of self-examination for the People’s United Party (PUP) continues even as the party tries to move forward to address other issues such as the upcoming budget debate. Today, the party hosted a meeting of its parliamentary caucus, national executive and standard bearers at which party leader Francis Fonseca put the question of his continued leadership to the wider faithful. The result was unanimous, as national campaign manager for the PUP Godfrey Smith explains.
GODFREY SMITH – NATIONAL CAMPAIGHN MANAGER, PUP
” In the first half of the meeting, the party leader, The Honorable Francis Fonseca, in essence laid on the table the question of his leadership and the question of a leadership convention, (he) expressed his commitment and dedication to lead the P.U.P to the next general election but would do so only if all members of the national executive, all standard bearers and the parliamentary caucus all really expressed their view on this position. The floor was then opened and every person in the room, essentially some 38 persons comprising those three bodies spoke and gave unanimous support for the support for the leadership of Francis Fonseca moving forward, with the views that there should be an endorsement conversion that should be held at some point by the People’s United Party.”
Smith noted in response to press questions that today’s vote will be taken to a wider convention of party supporters which has not been held since 2010, but that for now at least, Fonseca’s rule is unchallenged. He explained that the party’s various arms and branches have been meeting to consider their positions in the run-up to today’s vote.
“I keep and I reiterate, this is a process. This is our second meeting. There will be an even wider meeting so there will be every opportunity for the Facebook people, for the people you are refer to, to have a say. Bare this fact in mind though, when you say ‘You all up here,’ there is a standard bearer representing their constituency, there are various units of the party and many of those people, when they spoke were careful to say,’ look, I am speaking on behalf of myself.’ We met, whether it was the youth arm of the PUP or the Women’s group of the PUP or the marshals of the PUP. Many of the standard bearers when they spoke, after having met with their constituency executive committees and they came here expressing those views. So I would urge you to perhaps reconsider your categorization, or what seemed to me to be a tendency to want to categories this meeting as if it were a closed shop. It really wasn’t that and it is a continuation of a process.”
But notably absent from today’s meeting was former leader John Briceno, whose recorded statements criticizing Fonseca’s leadership have in recent weeks put senior members of the party at odds with him. While the party continues to deal with that matter internally, Smith said that Briceno’s absence was not intentional and that the party still considers him a loyal member.
“I think somebody lead off by asking.’ was there a question of fear within the ranks of t he Peiple’s United Party?’ There was never an issue of fear. There is an issue of dealing with problems and moving forward in an organized and confidant manner way. John Briceno calls in his regrets for not being able to make the meeting. In that discussion that we had this morning, it was resoundingly stated that John Briceno is a member of the party. He is embarrassed by the People’s United Party, he is an asset of the People’s United Party to move forward to a victory in the next general electrion.”
Today’s meeting also discussed plans to respond to the national budget at the formal debate scheduled for next week. The PUP will go into retreat at a future time to continue its internal renewal plans and as reiterated by Smith, will be consulting with all manner of supporters and officials to plot the way forward.