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Jamaica’s PNP admits to election unpreparedness in latest post-mortem

1459825834N_ROBINSONBy Alphea Saunders From Jamaica Observer

THE People’s National Party (PNP) yesterday admitted that it made several grave errors, including snubbing the political debates and initiating a row over Andrew Holness’ house, which caused the party to lose the February 25 General Election to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

A 13-member appraisal committee that was set up to probe the reasons it lost the election also concluded that the PNP was not “election ready” because of low worker morale, unresolved candidate selection issues, and “problematic relationships between some MPs (Members of Parliament) and councillors”.

The committee characterisd the decision to not participate in the national political debates as a “fatal error”.

“It contributed to the impression that the party was arrogant, and took the electorate for granted,” the party’s Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson stated at a press conference on the findings at party headquarters yesterday.

The JLP snatched the election by one seat, coming behind from the 2011 defeat of 42 to 21 seats. “Our findings also indicated that there was a breakdown of trust among elements of the leadership, leading into the campaign. This was never resolved and led to the campaign being dysfunctional and divided,” he further said.

The findings also pointed out that the PNP had failed to “communicate hope” and was “incoherent” and that this was made worse by the decision to raise the issue of Holness’ house during the campaign. Also, there was no effective counter to the JLP’s $1.5 million income tax plan.

There were issues, too, with the co-ordination of funding for the election campaign Robinson noted. “It was apparent that there were different centres within the campaign management structure and there was a lack of co-ordination in the fund-raising effort. It was clear that there wasn’t that central co-ordination and as such that led to some sub-optimal outcomes,” he explained.

But Robinson and the other committee members at the press conference shied away from making any pronouncements about whether anyone should be penalised for the blunders identified in the report.

“Our mandate was not to get into which persons were responsible for what, our mandate was to identify what the weaknesses were, to ensure that systems are put in place to prevent the kinds of mistakes that are taking place,” Robinson said.

He, however, added: “I think the party has to make a determination once that internal consultation takes place about how it moves forward. We are not taking a position as a committee on that specifically, but individuals in the party have a right and have expressed views on that. Persons who hold particular positions, those positions come up for renewal and persons are subject to the will of the delegates and they can determine the extent to which they believe persons should or should not be held accountable.”

Committee member Senator Mark Golding argued that the findings have to be digested and discussed with the various organs of the party before any decisions of that nature could be taken by the relevant arms of the party.

Meanwhile, the committee has made a number of recommendations that it thinks the party must adopt in order to reorganise its machinery.

Among them is sending candidates for seats before the Integrity Commission prior to letting delegates vote if they are worthy of the post. What now obtains is that only successful candidates face the commission after the internal contests.

The party also needs to re-affirm its core philosophy and to develop a time frame in which internal disputes are ironed out, the committee suggests.

Also, the members pointed to the need to improve the secretariat in the areas of organising, communication, recruitment and enumeration.

It is expected that the full report will be released after the party finishes its internal analysis and discussions, and following a review by the National Executive Council this month,” Robinson indicated yesterday.

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IMAGE: Julian Robinson



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