When you compare the outpour of support that came out of the People’s United Party in the Cayo North bi-election in January 2015 to the Dangriga bi-election held just last week, the blue and white camp showed far more energy and unity in the southern municipality on July 8. According to the Opposition Leader, Francis Fonseca, this was attributed to the factor that there was more money this time around to inject in the Dangriga campaign …. But despite the additional funds, it still led to a loss at the polls for the PUP …. And so, it begs the question whether that loss at the polls coupled with the dilemma of limited funds, are what led to the resignation of the party’s National Campaign Manager, Godfrey Smith. Just after the bi-election, Fonseca had called a press briefing and he did comment on the role of Smith and the incoming funds into the party.
“I am prepared to do what is required of me but I do have principles and I won’t compromise those principles and some people don’t like that. I think whenever we have elections we do a proper assessment of everything that took place and after any election, I say to my executive; all of us sit around and I say listen, I myself are at your disposal and we look at everybody who was involved in the campaign, at every level from the ground in Dangriga right up to the executive level, who pulled their weight and who didn’t pull their weight and we make an assessment based on that and we find out if people are committed to the work that lies ahead and I think after this election, it will be no different. I am satisfied that the campaign manager tried; he worked hard to raise the funds that he did have and I think he believed in Mr.Sabal, like we all did and did everything that he could through his office to try and make sure we put the best foot forward in that election. He is not my campaign manager or the party’s campaign manager to bring Ashcroft’s money; that is not his responsibility.”
There have been no forthcoming details as to what led Smith to resign from his post as the PUP’s National Campaign Manager as when we contacted Fonseca, he responded via text, saying that the decision was on a mutual agreement of both he, Fonseca and Smith. He ended by saying that he is not available for an interview and that Smith will continue in the party as his personal advisor. With nothing else to go on, the PUP has once again left the media and its supporters to speculate on just what led to this move by Godfrey Smith and the People’s United Party.
PUP’s National Campaign Manager Rolls Out, What Next For Opposition
When the PUP lost the Dangriga bye-election last week, PUP Leader Francis Fonseca became the first mass party leader in memory to lose three major elections in six months. And because of the successive losses, everyone knew something had to give - someone had to take a fall for the party's consistently poor turnout at the polls. And it seems National Campaign Manager Godfrey Smith is the man. The news broke just before 11:00 this morning and Smith told us via text message, quote: "party leader and I reached mutual agreement that I would no longer be campaign manager." He would not comment further than that. Though not completely unexpected, it's surprising because it is Fonseca who brought in Smith - as campaign manager in April of 2014. In fact, just last week - in his post defeat press conference, Fonseca endorsed Smith - even in the face of a third successive defeat.
Jules Vasquez In the PUP, the national campaign manager is the one who "roosts" out funds but by multiple indications just girl talk on the ground, we understand that the national campaign manager has failed to do that. In any substantial ways certainly not in a ralphian proportions. Should the PUP re-examined the post of national campaign manager and should Mr. Smith remain as national campaign manager?"
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "I think whenever we have elections we do a proper assessment of everything that took place. I am satisfied that the campaign manager tried. He worked hard to raise the funds that we did have and I think he believed in Mr. Sabal like we all did and did everything that he could through his office to try and make sure that we put the best foot forward in that election."
Jules Vasquez "But he couldn't bring the Ashcroft money. That's why he's there sir."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "But Jules, he's not my campaign manager or the party's campaign manager to bring Ashcroft's money."
Indeed, Smith never brought in substantial campaign funds for the PUP - and that tied in directly to election losses. But, insiders tell us that failure had as much to do with Fonseca's limp leadership as it had to do with Smith. Still, we are told that Fonseca is the one who called on Smith to resign - just days after he had publicly endorsed him. But, counter intuitively, now that Smith has departed - Fonseca is left isolated - because he is the one who brought in Smith as one of his few allies. Now, three election losses later, the Smith appointment backfired and party leader Fonseca is left holding a heavy bag - and it's not money in there either!
Overall, the move has created a sense of anxiety in the PUP - where there is genuine worry about the vacuum of support surrounding the leadership. This should subside as the days pass, but there is no natural replacement for Smith - and none known to be waiting in the wings. That suggests that for at least the near term, the party will continue to remain cash strapped an unable to properly contest an election against the well oiled, well financed UDP.