Phillips blames media, pollsters

Pure, simple propaganda directed against PNP, he says

Observer staff reporter

Friday, April 12, 2019

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OPPOSITION Leader and People's National Party (PNP) President Dr Peter Phillips is ripping into the media and pollsters, claiming they contributed to the party's loss in the Portland Eastern parliamentary by-election last week Thursday.

Phillips was speaking to PNP workers and supporters at Port Antonio High School on Wednesday when he said political propaganda was pushed by sections of the media to give the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) an advantage in the by-election.

His claim comes a week after candidate and PNP Vice-President Damion Crawford failed to retain the party's safe seat, now to be represented in Parliament by the JLP's Ann-Marie Vaz.

The vacancy arose when PNP Member of Parliament Dr Lynvale Bloomfield was found with more than 20 stab wounds at his home in the constituency in February.

“...When you calculate the political propaganda coming out of some sections of the media; when you calculate that poll seh we going lose by 20 points, some seh 10, some seh six, some seh it's climbing every day; and when you look at the result, you realise that it was just propaganda. [It was] pure, simple propaganda directed against the People's National Party and the candidate,” he told the group.

Phillips said Crawford, who ran a one-month campaign, worked against several disadvantages, including time and money. He accused the JLP of vote-buying and of launching an attack on the Office of the Political Ombudsman which only sought to ensure a free and fair election.

The PNP leader said against these “weapons” Crawford and the party performed “like a lion” on the day.

The final count of votes for the parliamentary by-election resulted in Vaz receiving 9,989 votes, an increase of 72 on the 9,917 reported in the preliminary count last Thursday night, while Crawford saw his total in the final count move from 9,611 to 9,670 votes.

The Electoral Office of Jamaica has not yet released the figures for the five divisions — Port Antonio, Prospect, Fairy Hill, Fellowship, and Manchioneal — that make up the constituency.

Phillips, in the meantime, urged Comrades to work with Crawford — who is expected to again vie for the seat in the next general election — to fulfil the goals outlined during the campaign.

“...There is no doubt that there is more work that we have to do, because if people keep tiefing something from yuh, yuh need to put up a fence; and if a man start jump yuh fence, then you need to find a way when him jumping over him nuh jump back,” Phillips said.

“They have done some things, and we know, but we nah complain, we a plan. We a work because next time it won't go suh. So we are going to pull up our organisation. We are going to review every position. We a go through the list fi find out who is real and who is fiction. Where the laws are broken, wi a go carry it to the right authorities and if dem nuh work on it we will know what to do,” Phillips stated.

His comments come a few days after former PNP General Secretary Paul Burke pointed to lack of political work on the ground as one of the main reasons for the election defeat.

Burke, in a post-election analysis which he e-mailed to the PNP's National Executive Council, stated that the PNP's mission, organisation and message need to become one. He said for several years the three have been lacking in the party.

He added that the group structure, which formed an important aspect of the PNP's make-up, has been gradually and systematically breaking down.

He also said the PNP had no moral authority to speak out against vote-buying because, since the party's vice-presidential elections of the late 1990s money and benefits have been a growing feature and campaign strategy in the PNP's internal elections.

However, he said the saving grace is that the PNP's national leadership does not subscribe to vote-buying in national elections, “although a growing number of our members at all levels are pressing the party to go this way and some have done their own 'thing' in their own limited way”.

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