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‘Malice towards none’ - Despite social media spats, Brown Burke rejects claims she dislikes some Comrades

Published:Sunday | August 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
PNP Vice-president Angela Brown Burke (left) lends a shoulder to Member of Parliament for St Ann South East Lisa Hanna in happy times.

People's National Party (PNP) Vice-president Dr Angela Brown Burke has moved to clear the air following a number of social-media spats with fellow Comrades.

Brown Burke says she holds no grudge, despite being embroiled in some ugly verbal confrontations on social media, the latest of which is a letter purported to be written by former PNP Youth Organisation Chairman Karen Cross.

The letter, which includes disparaging comments about Lisa Hanna - who is seeking to become one of four PNP vice-presidents - surfaced on social-media site Facebook, and sparked a response from former Senate President Floyd Morris, who publicly messaged Brown Burke asking her if she was aware of the letter, and urging her to distance herself from the contents.

But Brown Burke told The Sunday Gleaner that she has no beef with Hanna; Damion Crawford, who has engaged her in some ugly clashes on social media; or Raymond Pryce, who has also been critical of some senior members of the PNP.

"Absolutely not! There is absolutely no personal vendetta against anyone. But I have to tell you that I was part of a group in the PNP which was embarrassed by the amount of leeway we gave one candidate. I spent years advising the candidate that you have to do the work and build relationships.

"The same thing with another candidate, who I advised how to remedy the situation and make things better," said Brown Burke.

She hinted at being invited to replace one candidate to contest the 2016 general election, but argued that it would have been unprincipled for her to seek to replace one of the candidates, as she was part of the process which identified the problems and sought to mediate the best terms on how to settle them.

Brown Burke noted that with the onset of social media, some issues and difficulties in the party have escalated into public events.

"Social media is one of our modern-day challenges and we are grappling with the idea of how to deal with political openness in the era of social media, because there are some things which need be done behind closed doors.

"Secondly, I bear malice to no one in the party. I hate no one in the PNP. However, what you find is that the party has rules and guidelines on how issues like constituency disputes are settled. They are clear guidelines. But I believe in the democracy. For me, it is fundamental," said Brown Burke.

The long-serving Comrade argued that, to her own detriment, she has refrained from responding to some social-media controversies because that would cause the party to become embroiled in unnecessary turmoil.

"But I also accept that there has to be discipline. And sometimes individuals will say if you apply discipline, you want to shut down democracy. No, no, no. I will argue my case. Once a decision is made, I cease, because the will of the majority is going to guide us.

"I believe the unfortunate thing about where we are - and maybe it's because of the absence of political education over a number of years - is that there are some individuals who don't understand the rules that govern the party," said Brown Burke.




She noted delegates are supreme, and more so at election time, and warned that any member of parliament or caretaker who does not build relationships with the delegates will feel their wrath at election time.

For Brown Burke, there are individuals in the party who believe that "connections" would allow them to bypass the PNP's structures.

"When someone like me says, 'I will not agree that the processes should be ignored', then that becomes a problem," said Brown Burke as she argued that her disagreements with Comrades have always been based on the party's principles, which she holds as fundamental.

"There is no one in the party that I hate as an individual. My objections are always around the principles, processes and values. In fact, there is nothing that I would have said in an officer meeting that I would not have said to an individual whose behaviour I have a problem with. I believe in that.

"I stand on the ground that leadership means that sometimes decisions taken are not the popular ones but they are the correct ones. And somebody has to take them. I will take them," declared Brown Burke.