Mark Wignall | Angela Brown Burke had the last word
Based on the time a main source out of the Peter Bunting camp told me that Angela Brown Burke would be coming out full frontal for the Rise United campaign, it now seems that I knew about her move before her husband, Paul Burke, got wind of it. I can understand how painful his national ouch must be.
The situation can hardly be considered an everyday occurrence that in such a crucial contest, Paul remains fully committed to Peter Phillips, Angela bobs and weaves and makes her way to campaign director for Peter Bunting, and at some stage of the day they have to sit at the dining table as man and wife and stare at each other. At another time they will get even closer.
What would they talk about at those times? Climate change? The global immigration challenge? The proposed environmental raid on the Cockpit Country? In other words, anything else but the ‘deception’.
I confess, of course, that I cannot get in either Angela’s or Paul’s head in order to make a full determination that in the immediate aftermath of Angela’s decision, a letter to the PNP was required. Paul Burke must have figured that full comradeship required nothing less. Plus, he owed it to the PNP president, Dr Peter Phillips.
“Her choice for herself and her political future could be right; I am not arrogant to believe that I am always right. But like many of you, I am not only confused, but bewildered by her decision. As I said, Comrade Angela Brown Burke has the right to choose. She owes me no explanations, but she did not have to deceive me,” said Paul Burke, in a part of his 14-page letter which he knew would be leaked to the media.
“We now differ over who is the best person to lead the People’s National Party, but it’s not her choice — that is her right — but the sheer deception by a leader whom I trusted totally, who told me, and even wrote me, that she was not declaring, is the issue here,” added Burke.
These are serious times for the PNP as it turns a corner into uncharted territory where a majority of people in the general population believe that Peter Bunting would make a better fit for PNP president than Peter Phillips. A key question is: to what extent is the high-profile campaign of the Rise United team filtering into the minds of the majority of the PNP delegates?
A few days ago, on Monday, while hosting ‘Cliff Hughes Online’, in response to my 15-minute monologue, a part of which made commentary on the Paul Burke letter, Burke called the programme and we had a frank discussion. He told me of the constancy of love for his wife and his respect for her strength. But the deception was the most unkind cut of all.
What will happen in the Burke household over the next few weeks? Will Angela feel free to take home campaign paraphernalia with Bunting’s image on it? Will Paul open the back door and usher them out? Or will the Burke household be campaign-free territory?
Paul Burke intimated to me that although his wife has significant influence in the area of her delegates and farther afield, there is no guarantee that her delegate-rich territory will transform into real votes for Bunting come September 7.
For now, however, Paul Burke’s scripting of his wife’s decision as a deception is a blow to Peter Phillips and a boon to Peter Bunting. In the all-important race for a party president, what’s a little deception?