Sat | Mar 17, 2018

PNP has lost the key art of canvassing -Henry-Wilson

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

Former general secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) Maxine Henry-Wilson, has admitted that the party's failure to properly take care of the basic issue of canvassing contributed to its recent defeat at the polls.

Addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday, Henry-Wilson, who was instrumental in three successful PNP election campaigns, said the loss needs to be properly analysed before any conclusion is reached.

But she has already determined that there were some missteps.

According to Henry-Wilson, for a campaign to be successful, it must be detailed and every minute detail must be known at the level of the ground.

"Canvassing must be granular right down to the last vote," declared Henry-Wilson, as she argued that large crowds and public meetings do not win elections.

"You can lose an election in 16 days, but you cannot win an election in 16 days. What do I mean by that?

"Your machine has to be humming all along, so that your people are associated with achievement of whatever kind with the party, so that when you come into the election, because it's a short period for the campaign, 21 or 16 days, your machine is already there and you rev it up and move it along," said Henry-Wilson.

She argued that there must be a disaggregating of the intellectual arguments and examine what happens on the ground.

"When you get on the ground after nomination day, the critical thing is to know where your voters are. You have to be able to bring them out.

"That is the critical factor. Which means that your workers must be working before that 21 days."

According to her, the PNP was savaged by the last enumeration process.

"Thirty thousand persons added to the list and you don't know who they are, so that when you come, do your canvass; which we have lost the art of doing. The PNP has lost the art of doing a canvass," declared Henry-Wilson.

To prove her point, Henry-Wilson pointed to a constituency in Portland where she worked during the election.

She said in one polling division in the constituency, 124 new voters were added to the voters' list.

"These were 124 persons who we did not know, but the people were legitimately on the list and the danger is those persons would come back. Every single constituency reports that," said Henry-Wilson.

According to the former member of parliament and political veteran, PNP workers were told to find the 124 persons, who it should be assumed went on the list because they wanted to vote.