(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Paul Burke, the outspoken former general secretary of the People’s National Party (PNP), has reacted with disbelief at the decision of his wife, Dr Angela Brown Burke, to endorse Peter Bunting over Dr Peter Phillips in the Opposition party’s presidential race.
Several Comrades were shocked last Friday when Dr Dayton Campbell announced Brown Burke as one of the 12 persons who had signed Bunting’s nomination form, and Burke, in a letter to the party, said he was just as shocked.
“I was also taken [a]back [by] her decision. I had to compartmentalise the issues… not to be devastated, as admittedly, this has been one of the worst political blows regarding our internal politics I have had, whatever her reasons and rationale,” he wrote.
“It is not about her decision, but right up to the 11th hour on the day, she misled me, in fact deceived me, saying that she was not declaring, but had only signed Comrade Bunting’s nomination form, but would not be walking with him at his nomination day exercise. How disingenuous,” Burke said in the 14-page letter leaked to journalists.
“We now differ over who is the best person to lead the People’s National Party, but it’s not her choice — that is her right — but the sheer deception by a leader whom I trusted totally, who told me, and even wrote me, that she was not declaring, is the issue here,” said Burke, who has endorsed Phillips for the party’s top job.
“Her choice for herself and her political future could be right; I am not arrogant to believe that I am always right. But like many of you, I am not only confused, but bewildered by her decision. As I said, Comrade Angela Brown Burke has the right to choose. She owes me no explanations, but she did not have to deceive me,” added Burke.
He argued that Bunting and Brown Burke do not share the same philosophical platform and are not traditional allies.
“Comrade Brown Burke told me repeatedly that while she was uncomfortable with some of the members of Comrade Peter Phillips’s team, she could never support a Peter Bunting. And in reflecting with Norman yesterday morning (Saturday) over breakfast, he too was bewildered, because she had also assured him that she could never ever ‘support a Bunting’,” Burke wrote.
“Yes, Comrade Brown Burke told me this repeatedly, not once, not twice, not thrice, but she has a right, like all of us, to change our minds and positions,” declared Burke.
According to Burke, in today’s politics of political survival, self-interest and opportunism, his wife could have made the decision based on what she believes is in her best interest for survival in St Andrew South Western where she survived a bruising battle with another Bunting backer, Audrey Smith Facey, to replace Portia Simpson Miller as the party’s representative in the constituency in 2017.
In fact, Burke alleged that Bunting has opposed Brown Burke “throughout her career since becoming a vice-president in 2006” and in the contest for St Andrew South Western as well.
But Burke argued that, contrary to allegations by some Comrades, Brown Burke’s endorsement of Bunting was not based on financial considerations.
“She cannot be bought by money or monetary considerations, I can attest to this. So unlike some other candidates who can be tempted by a presidential candidate saying to them, ‘If I win, I will fund your campaign to the tune of $10 million’, money could never be a factor in her decision,” said Burke.
He added: “I am married to a good woman, my very best friend in life, and one with strong Christian principles and morals and an excellent and loving mother to our children. Indeed, I owe her so much.”
Burke, also urged PNP delegates to stick with the incumbent and his “One PNP” agenda and not succumb to “the money-powered shock and awe of the Rise campaign”.
Brown Burke has since indicated that she would not comment on the statements made by her husband in the letter but said she has no ill feelings towards him and stands by her decision to endorse Bunting, whose challenge to Phillips has opened old wounds in the 80-year-old party.
The leadership contest is scheduled to be settled on September 7 in a vote among delegates.