Thu | Aug 22, 2019

Patria-Kaye Aarons | After the PNP bloodbath ...

Published:Tuesday | August 13, 2019 | 12:16 AM
Cartoon for Monday, July 15, 2019, Peter Phillips, Peter Bunting, PNP

With the PNP political song and dance in full flight, I can’t help but make an outsider observation.

I care only because whoever wins these internal elections stands a chance to one day make critical decisions that affect me and my country. No party is safe in Gordon House in the hands of today’s voter. The blind, tribal, partisan leanings and colour-coded votes are depleting more and more in exchange for sensible, pragmatic votes based on manifestos and integrity and performance (or lack thereof). So the next PNP president could very well one day be the next prime minister, and for that reason, I care.

Looking on at the way this election is playing out, you wouldn’t think the players were actually ultimately batting on the same side. The videos and press conference jabs and social-media posts (that go viral) are plain dirty. The Olivia Pope in me immediately thinks beyond these elections and wonders whether or not the candidates realise how much they are shooting themselves (and their party) in the foot. Every bout of mudslinging is ammunition for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the next general election.

Key media moments

Handle these media moments wrong, with petty accusations against each other, vacuous punches, and little substance, and you’re back in the wilderness. I’m yet to hear either of the candidates put strong, convincing arguments on the table as to 1) why one is better than the other and 2) why either is better than the current PM. I mean real substance that will get the voting populace weighing their options, not just Peter vs Peter, but Peter vs Andrew.

Instead, this battle had descended into character assassination. A dangerous road to tread. Rubbish about age and weight and personal traits has starred this campaign. Quite frankly, who cares?

What’s your plan around crime? I want to hear less about the man and more about why he is the right man for the job. Focus.

Polls are wonderful (and contradicting), but when ink meets ballot, those are the most accurate poll results that the PNP must face. I’m listening for the candidate who gets the articulated failings of the party, acknowledges and accepts them, and, more important, puts forward a concrete plan to address those issues.

Why have voters rejected the PNP in the last elections? Own it and say how you will fix it.

You’ll need each other

I wonder whether Peter Bunting and Peter Phillips remember that post-September 7, they’ll need each other. That after all of this, they need to be one PNP rising united to face the electorate. Together is the only way they can sort the PNP’s issues with the machinery, foggy ideology, and perceptions around leadership.

The increased attention on the party could be a master-stroke PR tactic if the cards are played right. How often do opposition parties get an extended 15 minutes of fame for reasons other than a scandal?

If the internal election is handled with demonstrated smarts and savvy, if the candidates come forward with fresh, well-thought-out and workable arguments to tackle economics and crime, the PNP immediately becomes a viable alternative to the JLP.

A re-election will be no walk in the park for Andrew Holness on the heels of both the Petrojam and Caribbean Maritime University messes. And the fact that crime continues to be the untamed monster will haunt any ruling party.

The objective, the endgame, for both Peters is the prime ministership. PNP leader/opposition leader is the consolation prize. That result will never be achieved if those planning in the camps of the two Peters don’t realise that we expect a higher level of campaigning. More ideas and intellect, better communication, solutions, strategy.

Character assassination doesn’t only hurt the opposing candidates; it hurts your party. Own goals aplenty.

Patria-Kaye Aarons is a confectioner and broadcaster. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@gmail.com.