Jamaicans across all social media platforms were brutally critical of People’s National Party (PNP) President Dr Peter Phillips on Wednesday night (August 19) for being ‘uninspiring’ and ‘underprepared’ for a televised interview during which he made a case as to why he should become the next prime minister.
The Opposition Leader, appearing on Television Jamaica’s (TVJ) prime time weekly current affairs programme, All Angles, touched on several issues surrounding the upcoming September 3 general election, where the PNP squares off with the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Off the bat, Dr Phillips failed to explain why his approval ratings were concerningly low among members of the Jamaican public and even his own party.
Confronting his deflection, host Dionne Jackson Miller redirected her question about Phillips’ approval rating, to which he responded it could be a communication problem, internally and externally. This long-standing challenge with the PNP’s image, he further argued, is now being addressed, two weeks before the election.
“I think there’s a communications issue that we are now getting on top of. There is a failure that has probably existed for some time, to communicate the achievements before. We have allowed the party’s image to be structured and proclaimed by others [but] I think, in many respects, we are seeing a momentum shift in that direction. Will it be sufficient? The elections will tell,” Phillips said.
Dr Phillips contended that while he will not share or accept the views of the preliminary polls on his favourability as leader, he recognised that the buck stops with him.
“There are some challenges, I accept the responsibility for those challenges, but I am certainly not going to roll over and play dead because of some perceived ‘bad news’,”
The PNP leader became the number one trending topic on Twitter last night, well into Thursday morning.
More into the interview, PM-hopeful Phillips repeatedly floundered on what his plans to address youth unemployment are, even when asked directly by young Jamaicans. The answers for his strategy to tackle the island’s economic downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic was also deemed unsatisfactory.
The nightmare runaway train continued to chug as the Dr Phillips hinted at but gave no true indication of a PNP-led approach to control and contain Jamaica’s COVID-19 outbreak, a sign that spelled dread and worry for many viewers watching in dismay.
It was clear, at least from the vantage point of the public, that Dr Phillips was not fully prepared for the interview, which raised more speculation as to whether it was a genuine attempt to rescue Jamaica (as he has often claimed) or a grab for power.
It was evident when he was asked what the PNP would do differently to help more Jamaicans get access to affordable housing, in light of the rise in the homeownership figures from the National Housing Trust (NHT) under the JLP.
In his response, Dr Phillips explained that he was not responsible for the NHT during his tenure as minister after initially disputing the previous homeownership numbers as a PNP achievement.
“But you take credit though… You’re quick to cite the PNP achievements, when it suits your arguments. This is what I’m saying, you’re contradicting yourself. When it suits you, you say ‘previous PNP governments did this’ [and] when you’re criticised, you say ‘That wasn’t me’,” Jackson Miller quipped.
Jackson Miller further asked Dr Phillips, in the hour-long programme, about the PNP’s choice of political dubs, in particular, the framing of Dovey Magnum’s Bawl Out single, and the connotations of the original song being sexually explicit.
The PNP leader answered briefly that he had never heard the original version of the single and that the dub, approved to boost his image, was not solicited.
Some Jamaican Twitter users also found it oddly convenient that several ardent PNP supporters were eerily quiet during and after the All Angles interview.
Others on Twitter, as well as Facebook, called the interview ‘karmic resonance’ of Phillips and the PNP’s ouster of former leader Portia Simpson Miller in 2016.
Did you tune in to the interview, BUZZ fam? Do you feel the same as many Jamaicans on social media?