MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Peter Bunting says defeat for the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) in the Portland Eastern by-election and feedback on the "ground" were defining triggers for his decision to challenge Dr Peter Phillips for leadership of the party.
"During and after the by-election campaign, at every meeting, people come to me saying 'what are you people doing? We can't go on like this,'" Bunting told OBSERVER ONLINE following a divisional meeting at May Day High in Manchester, Sunday night.
Bunting said Comrades complained that 'the leader not getting any traction on the ground, the party flat'".
He said some appeals from party supporters came in "sophisticated" language, some less so.
"I remember one Comrade called me at 20 to six in the morning and said 'Comrade Bunting you ago mek we dead fi hungry? We can't tek seven more years of this. You not doing something?...it was really coming at me from every direction," he said.
The Manchester Central MP said that when a Don Anderson poll confirmed what he was "getting" on the ground he felt it was time to act.
"I felt that it was now time for action and we could not be continuing in slow motion... we had to do something...," he said.
Bunting said he was puzzled by the failure of the PNP to pick up any noticeable support as a result of the exposing of a rash of corruption scandals afflicting the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), triggering loss of jobs for two Cabinet ministers.
"I am perplexed by it. In a sense the population seems to be inoculated against corruption scandals... I don't know if they (scandals) are coming so fast they are overwhelmed by the (information) and they just can't absorb it... Petrojam fatigue... but I don't blame the population. I believe we (PNP) have to be more innovative in getting the message across...," he said.
He did not rule out the suggestion that Jamaicans had become cynical flowing from a perception that all politicians are corrupt.
It was now incumbent on the PNP to behave in a way that will allow that party to consistently hold the moral high ground.
"We have to behave in a way that sets us apart... to show what we stand for... and what others stand for... in order to get away from a perception that all politicians are corrupt," he said.