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PNP must go back to the drawing board – pundits - Commentators say opposition party lacked focus in East Portland campaign

Published:Friday | April 5, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Political analysts have criticised the strategy employed by the People’s National Party (PNP) in the campaign for yesterday’s keenly watched East Portland by-election, contending that the party lacks the focus needed to be successful at the polls.

At the same time, the PNP’s loss in a seat that has been in the party’s winning column for the last seven elections has brought its stewardship into question.

After the dust settled in the much-anticipated by-election last night, the Jamaica Labour Party’s Ann-Marie Vaz emerged victorious over the PNP’s Damion Crawford, who resigned from the Senate on March 14 to contest the polls.

“This by-election, although Ann-Marie Vaz won, has deeper meaning for the whole body politic in Jamaica, particularly for the People’s National Party, because having now lost this election, coming on the heels associated, finding that their party president, Peter Phillips, is not very popular, having a very bad time, it is really going to put him in the hot seat immediately,” political analyst Richard ‘Dickie’ Crawford offered as he weighed in on the results.

He contended that the PNP was lax while the JLP was responsive and aggressive in its approach and “got to the heart of the issues that would have given them a boost”.

Also, he said, the PNP’s candidate should have placed more emphasis on the fundamental issues affecting the constituency during his campaign.

Gleaner columnist Daniel Thwaites said the outcome of the polls should serve as a wake-up call for the opposition party, particularly since its most popular politician was on yesterday’s ballot.

“He (Damion Crawford) is incredibly popular and was just overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates to become vice-president of the party. Therefore, the loss in a seat held by the PNP for the last 30 years – and won by thousands of votes in 2016 – signals a need for rebuilding from the ground up,” Thwaites contended.

According to Thwaites, some of the political attacks on Vaz backfired on the PNP. Nonetheless, he believes that the defeat, as bruising as it is, should not signal the end of Crawford’s political career.

And like Dickie Crawford, Thwaites says the PNP must go back to the drawing broad.

“When a team has just been thrashed, it is for all to consider their roles and performances. The account of relative damage doesn’t happen till later, and fighters are known to take the 10-count and get up stronger,” he suggested.