Attacks on Ann-Marie hurt the PNP — Vaz

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 07, 2019

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An outstanding campaign machinery, a candidate who connected with the people, and an opponent disconnected from the residents are the factors which the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Daryl Vaz credits for his wife, Ann-Marie, winning in last Thursday's by-election in Portland Eastern.

According to Vaz, claims by some supporters of the defeated People's National Party's (PNP) candidate Damion Crawford, that money played a key role in the outcome of the election are unfounded, as the JLP did not engage in vote-buying.

“You always get this allegation from the losers, and anybody you hear crying the loudest is a loser. That is a typical political line over the last 30 years by the losing party. It was not me, but the then general secretary of the PNP who admitted to vote-buying in a by-election in Westmoreland not so long ago.

“So when it comes to vote-buying, talk to the PNP. What we deal with are the issues, and we had an organised campaign — and that made the difference,” Vaz told the Jamaica Observer.

Vaz said the PNP conducted one of the worst campaigns he has seen in his political history, as the party did not seem to understand the issues that were important to the residents of the constituency.

“After 30 years in charge of the constituency the PNP had nothing to campaign on in terms of performance, and so they used national issues which were irrelevant to the people of East Portland to a large extent. Their campaign was disastrous as they did know what the people of East Portland wanted to hear,” said Vaz.

He argued that the PNP further lost the plot when its members embarked on personal attacks on his wife, a move that left him disappointed, particularly when these attacks came from Crawford.

“The personal attacks on Ann-Marie started on the night he was presented as the candidate in Port Antonio in front of the leadership of the PNP; and instead of pulling him back, they endorsed it. This worked against them because Jamaican people are over that type of politics.

“And more important for me is that Damion Crawford knows Ann-Marie's history. They have spoken about it to the point where Damion tutored Ann-Marie's son Christopher, who was going through some challenges with maths at university. So it was not a situation where his utterances were ignorant of the facts — he knows where she is coming from and where she is today.

“That shows that he is intellectually dishonest and politically dunce, because that is not a strategy that works in 2019. And for him to say the things he said, knowing Ann-Marie personally, speaking to her on more than one occasion and knowing her emphasis on all her children being properly educated, what he said is unforgivable,” declared Vaz as he chided the women in the leadership of the PNP for not coming out and condemning the attacks.

The Member of Parliament for Portland Western further charged that the innuendos from members of the PNP surrounding the killing of Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, whose death led to the by-election, also alienated several voters in the constituency.

According to Vaz, the JLP did three polls which informed them of the local issues in each community in the constituency, and that helped to direct the party's campaign.

“We also did an analysis of the numbers between 2011 and 2016 and we saw where the JLP's Patrick Lee got more than 8,000 votes at a time where there was a swing against the JLP, so we knew the votes were out there and what we needed to do was to engage them and get them to come out — and that is what we did.”

Vaz said the rain on election morning cost the JLP some votes in its strongholds of Fairy Hill and Manchioneal, but it performed well in Port Antonio and Prospect to reduce the PNP's margin of victory in those two divisions where it is traditionally strong.

He said the JLP lost the fifth division, Fellowship, by a small margin, and that could have caused it not to meet its target of 10,000 votes.

“What we had was an absolutely brilliant candidate, we had an organised campaign with dedicated workers, a leader in Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and a team which was organised and united in going after the victory — and the PNP could find nothing to match us,” declared Vaz.


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