KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday June 10, 2016 – The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has admitted it made major errors that may have cost it the February 25th general elections.
Among those mistakes, it said, were the decision not to take part in political debates ahead of the voting, a campaign messaged that was incoherent and failed to “communicate hope”, its public sparring with the then Opposition Leader Andrew Holness over how his new house was funded, and unresolved candidate selection issues.
The disclosures were made by PNP Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson, who chaired the 13-member appraisal committee that was set up to look into the reasons behind the party’s election loss.
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won the election by one seat, securing 32 seats in the 63-seat Parliament, and ousting the Portia Simpson Miller-led PNP.
Robinson told the media that the snubbing of the political debates turned out to be disastrous.
“Among the findings indicated by post-election polls and focus groups, the decision not to participate in the national debate was a fatal error. It contributed to the impression that the party was arrogant and took the electorate for granted,” he said.
Robinson also indicated that the party’s organization was not election ready, due to low worker morale, unresolved candidate selection issues, problematic issues between some Members of Parliament and Councillors, among other challenges.
“Our findings also indicate 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 added, noting that there were deficiencies in both the campaign itself and the period leading up to the campaign.
“It was apparent that there were different centres within the campaign management structure and there was a lack of coordination in the fundraising effort. Instead of having a single centre that had all the funds coming into it, it was clear that there wasn’t that central coordination of all the funds that came into the PNP as a whole, and as such, that led to some suboptimal outcomes, quite frankly.”
Despite identifying the challenges, Robinson said, the committee did not focus on “which persons were responsible for what”, as its mandate was to identify the weaknesses and ensure that systems are put in place to prevent a repeat of the mistakes.
The committee’s report will be presented to the party’s National Executive Council on June 26.