Sat | Jul 11, 2020

Letter of the Day | PNP needs a captivating message

Published:Thursday | September 12, 2019 | 12:00 AM


Passion plus purpose propel people. And the Comrades seem quite eager to recover state power.

But is the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) divided and fractured after a bitterly contested presidential election? Can the Opposition ‘Rise United’ as ‘One PNP’ to effectively challenge and defeat the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the next general election?

Many expect an early election and practically every analyst is predicting a JLP victory; given the PNP’s losses in two by-elections where it held the seats (including a traditional stronghold), its recent divisive internal election and the JLP’s wide margin in opinion polls. But the PNP should not be written off, because of the unpredictable nature of life and politics and some salient points.

1. Quite often opinion polls and analysts predict winners only to witness stunning upsets and even crushing defeats by those expected to win. Polls predicted Trump losing against Clinton.

2. After leadership challenges, both the PNP and JLP were energised to win the next general election in 2011 and 2016, respectively.

3. Two recent ‘early elections’ resulted in losses for the incumbents, former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller losing by one seat in 2016 and then Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his first stint in 2011 suffered a resounding loss, 42:21 seats. Is recent political history any guide?

The outcome of a general election is influenced by many factors, especially the performance in Government and the promises promulgated by the Opposition. A governing party is less inclined to make grand promises and will defend its performance and announce projects and strategically spend state resources to its advantage. The Opposition will demonstrate that things are bad and make grand promises to highlight they can do better.

People universally desire better. By identifying people’s burning desires, pressing problems and fears and presenting solutions, (even as mere believable promises) voters can be influenced to give widespread support because of their desire and hope for better; especially when promises are cleverly summarised in slogans or captivating messages like: ‘Better Must Come’, ‘Deliverance Is Near’, ‘Don’t Stop the Progress’, ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’, ‘JEEP’, etc.

‘From Poverty to Prosperity’

The JLP promised ‘From Poverty to Prosperity’ and a $1.5-million income tax break, snatched momentum from the PNP and ‘stole the show’ in the last general election.

Party unity, organisational skills and strategies, funding and a captivating message are crucial in electioneering. The PNP’s biggest challenge now is: it does not have, and definitely need, a captivating message, to effectively challenge the JLP in the next general election.

Daive R. Facey