Just when it seemed like PNP comrades were mending fences and making nice, along comes a WikiLeaks exposé to tear down the fragile façade of unity. In a 2008 US diplomatic cable, Peter Philips apparently agreed with a US official that Jamaica risked becoming like Haiti if Portia Simpson-Miller, whom he called a “disaster”, was returned to power.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he went on to tell the US official that it would be too distasteful to serve under another Simpson-Miller run government, and that the 18-year PNP administration had run Jamaica into the ground.
These have to be very awkward times for the PNP. Phillips is surely squirming in his shoes, and his comrades must be in a rage. After all, if you cannot rely on your party executives for support, then who?
When Phillips joined the PNP shadow cabinet in early 2011 with responsibility for Finance, Planning and the Public Service, there were rumblings that it was a political maneuvering to muster some semblance of unity. The PNP was fractured and losing ground and credibility. The appointment was an olive branch, so to speak. Remember, following the 2006 and 2008 leadership races tensions were high between the two camps and there was no love lost between Simpson-Miller and Phillips.
Still, others considered Phillip’s inclusion in the shadow cabinet a genuine and well-considered appointment, a strategy that could positively position the PNP for the 2012 general election. Besides, time heals all wounds.
But this new revelation regarding Phillip’s distaste for his party leader and his disparaging remarks about the PNP’s 18-year reign cast all recent maneuverings in a new light. Was it a battered ego talking or were these deep-seated feelings that came about after much reflection? Does his agreement to serve in the shadow cabinet mean his opinion of Simpson-Miller have mellowed with time? That he views her in a kinder, gentler light?
Whatever the case, Dr. Phillips needs to explain himself. We look forward to a response from his party too. The silence is deafening. We can only imagine what is going on behind closed doors.