Paul Burke says poor message strategy behind PNP election defeat

Paul Burke says poor message strategy behind PNP election defeat

BY KIMONE FRANCIS Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

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PEOPLE’S National Party (PNP) General Secretary Paul Burke has pointed to his party’s inability to effectively communicate with the electorate as the main reason for its defeat in the February 25 General Election.

Burke, who has shouldered much of the blame, yesterday told reporters and editors at the Jamaica Observer that there were serious issues affecting the country which were difficult to convey to the over 1.8 million Jamaicans eligible to vote.

"…There was austerity and we didn’t call it austerity; we called it economic reform programme. It was difficult to create employment, the Capex (capital expenditure) programme was cut; there were serious issues. It was difficult to communicate that message, and we were not always successful in communicating the message," he admitted.

He said that the message to party members leading up to the general election was that every Comrade is a communicator, because the party’s hierarchy realised that they were not communicating the message.

"Even our own members were facing the blunt. When they go out there, people say, ‘You’re working for the party, but you’re unemployed; look at your situation.’ We understand the contradictions… we never got our act [together]. And when you try to do it just before an election, it’s too short; there’s cynicism, there are so many other messages. We have to take collective responsibility for our communications," he told the Observer.

"The other thing is the message had to be credible. And I’m not saying our leaders were not credible, but credibility comes at different levels. You have been absent from the field and the first time you’ll be going back is just before an election. It dilutes and devalues your credibility," he added.

The embattled general secretary, who some, including former Cabinet minister Lisa Hanna, insist must take the fall for the party’s loss, also fingered issues such as laziness, indifference, distance, and arrogance on the part of some Members of Parliament as other reasons for the booting of the Portia Simpson Miller-led party from Government.

"So that person being your standard-bearer, that person being your messenger, the message was diluted, devalued or dismissed. So communication was our major issue," he said.

The party in March commissioned an 11-member appraisal committee to conduct a formal assessment of the reasons that contributed to its electoral defeat. The committee defined three areas of scope for its review: the Government, party, and campaign.

The final document is expected to be ready by the end of this month.

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