Five losing candidates of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the 2011 general election were described as desperate last-minute parachutes, whose inexperience and 'all-knowing' attitudes were the factors contributing to their defeats, according to the report of the five-man strategic commission report to be distributed to party officers soon.
The report, which was presented to JLP leader Andrew Holness in January, is slated to be released to the officers of the party this week after a lengthy delay, but The Sunday Gleaner has been given a sneak peek at the final draft.
According to the report, Danville Walker (Manchester Central), Joan Gordon-Webley (St Andrew East Rural), Sapphire Longmore (St Andrew Eastern), Keith Hinds (St Catherine Southern), and Collin Virgo (Manchester Southern) all lost because they were foisted on the constituencies at the last minute.
"Despite labelled as well-known national figures - mayors, directors of election, youth leaders and professionals - they were just unable to do enough to safely secure seats in their constituencies," said the report.
"These candidates were selected in a short space of time, many of whom were placed in their constituencies six months before the general election … . Some (were) inexperienced, not as committed, and believed to be all-knowing … ," read a section of the report.
It pointed to former government ministers Christopher Tufton and Robert Montague as seasoned candidates who supposedly had good on-the-ground political machinery, but were unable to win their seats.
Neglect was offered as a possible reason for their loss.
The report said some constituents were dissatisfied with persons selected to run as candidates, as well as the selection procedures. In fact, according to the report, many Labourities were unaware of how candidates were selected.
Some of the unsuccessful candidates were described as "token candidates who were visibly not ready for the political hustings, but who were selected for imagery".
The "failure of several candidates to sufficiently organise" featured heavily for the election loss in the report.
The report said there was "an overall image crisis in the JLP and, as such, a public-relations overhaul was necessary".
According to the report, except for Paula Kerr-Jarrett (Hanover Eastern), who narrowly lost to the People's National Party's (PNP) Dr D.K. Duncan, "the young female candidates were weak political competitors; they were typically not taken seriously by seasoned opponents or the electorate".
The report said the successful candidates were those who had well-oiled systems, which could be translated to being "moneyed" and well-functioning, constituency machinery that were not necessarily "tribal" in nature.
It said most successful constituency organisations were developed and nurtured out of patterns of even-handed conduct and delivery of civil and government services with demonstrations of personal interests.
MODELS TO EMULATE
Three of the party's veteran politicians were singled out for model political deportment. They are Derrick Smith, Karl Samuda, and Delroy Chuck.
Turning to the JLP's public relations in the lead-up to the 2011 general election, the report said a lack of proper supervision and management led to unhelpful relations with the media.
The commissioners also found that "insufficient oversight impacted disastrously on the media campaign".
The report argued that in order to clean up the party's image, "a rebranding, repositioning, retraining and reculturing must occur".
The way forward, said the commissioners, "will require a deep, bold, thorough and lengthy process of rethinking, involving the identification of changes that are both achievable and measurable".
The report has also urged the JLP to foster ideology and identity by clearly articulating a core set of values around which members can coalesce.
"Leadership reform is also critical," the report said.
The commissioners recommended:
1) Training and capacity building
2) Electoral machinery management
3) Fostering inclusion and the engagement of groups and individuals
4) Political education
5) Social marketing and recruitment activities
6) Reactivation, modernisation and enforcement of the party's governance structures
7) Research, monitoring and evaluation; re-energising, rethinking and re-engineering of the base
8) Development of media relations, political marketing and communication strategies and resource mobilisation.