Source: Jamaica Gleaner
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) flipped the script in Manchester yesterday, railroading high-flying People’s National Party (PNP) incumbent Peter Bunting and fellow House hopeful Michael Stewart as it grabbed three of the four seats up for grabs in the mid-island parish.
In 2016, it was the PNP that held the 3-1 ascendency, with only the JLP’s Audley Shaw holding on to Manchester North Eastern. This time around, Shaw will be joined in Gordon House by Rhoda Moy Crawford, who claimed Bunting’s scalp in Manchester Central, and Robert Chin, who got the better of Michael Stewart in Manchester Southern based on last night’s preliminary count.
PNP Vice-President Mikael Phillips took home the only seat for the Opposition in the parish, retaining his Manchester North Western seat by beating back the challenge from his JLP challenger, polling 5,602 votes to Damion Young’s 4,879.
In Manchester North Eastern, Shaw got 6,909 votes to defeat the PNP’s Donald Jackson, who was backed by 2,990 electors.
In Manchester Central, Crawford got 8,097 votes to upstage three-term MP Bunting, who secured 7,112 votes.
PNP incumbent Stewart fell short by 894 votes in Manchester Southern, polling 5,916 to the JLP’s Chin, who crossed the finish line with 6,810 votes.
Crawford’s campaign had shown early signs of picking up steam in Manchester Central as she set out to wrest the seat from Bunting, who won the seat by 1,172 votes in 2016.
She received the full support of Danville Walker, who lost to Bunting by just over 500 votes in 2016.
There had been particular concern in recent weeks that some of the strongest PNP divisions, including Bellefield and Royal Flat, could turn green.
But even as storm clouds gathered, Bunting sought to downplay the growing swell of support for Crawford, a political neophyte.
“Bellefield! Bellefield! A you do that! Landslide victory we say ... ,” shouted a JLP supporter as the ballots were being counted.
JLP political liaison officers erupted in celebration as the final box was counted in their favour, leaving their PNP counterparts in shock and disbelief.
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