Photo: Ian Jones
Jones says he’s not here to replace anyone and that he is not going to entertain constant back and forth with those in opposition to his candidacy.
by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 14, 2022
Endorsement convention season for the United Democratic Party was off to a start on Saturday, with the endorsement of former National Sports Council Director Ian Jones for the Collet constituency. Jones’ endorsement has been controversial, to say the least, and last week there was an outright objection to his candidacy by the UDP’s Collet Constituency Committee.
In a letter dated November 10, 2022, the committee wrote to UDP Chairman, Michael Peyrefitte, expressing concern about the party’s decision to endorse Jones. In that letter, the Committee claims that they were never consulted about the move and adds that it is “a major disrespect to the UDP Collet Constituency Organization.”
But Jones says that the committee has no one to blame for their lack of knowledge but themselves. Our colleagues at KREM News caught up with him and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, on Saturday at the UDP Headquarters, where the endorsement convention was held. There, Jones explained that, had the members of the Collet Executive attended the National Party Council meeting that was held in August, they would have been aware of the fact that the party would be having endorsement conventions early this year.
“It’s unfortunate that the choices were made by that Executive and the then area rep to not attend the NPC meeting that we had in August…there was a decision made in terms of what would be the season for conventions. And I think I was one of the persons who said, ‘listen, if you don’t know by now that you want to represent the UDP, it won’t change.’ So we decided at that NPC to fast-track in terms of having conventions,” he said.
Despite the letter of objection from the Collet Constituency Committee, the Leader of the Opposition is standing firmly behind the decision to endorse Jones. According to him, the endorsement of Jones for Collet—the UDP stronghold held by Hon. Patrick Faber for five terms—is a sign that the party is moving forward.
“This endorsement certainly is a reflection of the reality of the UDP, which is that we are moving forward. And the United Democratic Party has never been about one individual. The business of the United Democratic Party is the affairs of the people. And we need standard bearers, we need candidates who will focus on that work and not be a distraction to the rest of us, because we can’t win one seat or two seats or three seats and lose the rest and end up in Opposition again. So the hope is that we have a set of candidates who are serving their constituents and are not going to cause any distractions to the party at large,” he stated.
While he spent much of his political career working with Denise “Sista B” Barrow in the Queen’s Square division, Ian Jones grew up in Collet and says he has been a registered voter in that constituency for most of his adult years. And while he has been an open supporter of former Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Patrick Faber, Jones says that his role as an ally of Hon. Faber in the past is not the reason for his successes.
“I’m not saying I don’t credit him for anything. I have gained some experience from the Hon. Patrick Faber as a colleague of his in terms of being at the National Sports Council. I will not discredit the Hon. Patrick Faber for anything. I will never try to play him down to be less than what he was in terms of politics, but I’m just saying that my achievements in life have been based on my knowledge, my experiences, and mostly my own input,” he said.
“I’m not here to replace anybody. I’m here to represent the people of Collet. I’m here to maintain Collet as a UDP stronghold,” he added.
Jones says that he has all intentions of working along with the people of Collet, and the executive of the constituency, to continue its legacy as a UDP stronghold, which it has been, according to him, long before Patrick Faber was the standard bearer.
“You know that saying ‘no man is an island’? [Faber’s] becoming a political giant was not done on his own. There were people, like my mother, who had been the chairperson for thirteen years, who made Collet a UDP stronghold even before the Hon. Patrick Faber was a representative for that,” he stated.
Jones says that, as standard bearer, his focus will be not on a back and forth with the committee but on developing the constituency and securing a victory in the next general elections.
“It won’t be a back and forth. That’s not how I operate. If it is that the other side or any side decides to try to create opposition to my candidacy, then they will do so on their own. They will not get a response from me. I have this saying that I live by—that not every insult deserves a response, and that is how I will maintain being in Collet,” he said.
“Ian Jones is the candidate for Collet, the new standard bearer. I congratulate him. I congratulate the executive, and we have a lot of work to do in the Collet division so that we can deliver Collet for the UDP when the general elections have come,” said Hon. Shyne Barrow.
Hon. Barrow says that he has no doubt in his mind that Collet will remain a stronghold for the UDP when the next general elections come around.
The UDP also held an endorsement convention for the Mesopotamia constituency on Saturday as well as for Port Loyola and Fort George on Sunday. Conventions are expected to conclude by January 2023.