Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Why the JLP will not win

Published:Sunday | August 23, 2015 | 8:00 AM

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, constituted by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), is not going to win the next parliamentary general election. The business of prognostication regarding elections is fraught with danger. This is no science. There is no formula to be honed in the Jamaican electorate with all its tribalism and fanatic, irrational party loyalty.

The personnel on whom the JLP relies to secure victory do not inspire confidence, nor do they resonate as being competent and brimming with new, well-thought-out development plans.

Let us take a look at the economic brain trust. One former prominent banker has not distinguished himself in the management of his own financial institution. The firm is of recent vintage, yet had to resort to seeking the intervention of the courts to cushion the loss arising from managerial decisions. This did not find favour with the courts.

Another JLP economic guru, reputed as the driving force behind a real-estate business entity that has a significant part of its business outside of Jamaica, has reported a loss. The economic climate in the USA, where the person does business, does not throw up the same challenges as doing business in Jamaica. This person noted, since challenged by some banks, that the banks in Jamaica make substantially more loans for consumer purposes than for businesses.

The availability of support services is much greater in the real-estate business in the USA than Jamaica. How would this person change the climate for doing business for the small and medium enterprises at home? I have heard no reasonable proposals, so why entrust them with our future?

 

NOT INSPIRING CONFIDENCE

 

The former finance minister had serious challenges running a gas station. Not a strong résumé. His trade promotion experience is now decades old and, of course, his constant bad-mouthing of the multilaterals does not strike a positive.

The other persons likely to be in a JLP Cabinet, Pearnel Charles, Mike Henry, Edmund Bartlett, Marlene Malahoo-Forte, J.C. Hutchinson. Does this group inspire confidence in this digital age?

The issue of leadership puts the spotlight on Andrew Holness. His team demands, with a time deadline, a plan for political activity for the party. There is no public knowledge of him engaging the lobbyists of the PSOJ, Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturers Association, the sugar industry and its large unskilled workforce, the facilitation of export industries, the marketing of the tourism product, and on and on. How can he lead?

He came to leadership because of youth and the alleged ability to connect with the 53 per cent of our population under the age of 35. He has not connected. He took advice that led to the constitutional challenge fiasco regarding the undated, signed letters of some members of the Senate.

He was soundly rejected by two courts of the land. He breached the Constitution and has displayed indifference to the courts' ruling. No respect for the highest law of the land, because there is not an associated prison term. His response - the people do not care about that. Really!

The Opposition has internal conflict and displays instability. Where are the internal mediation skills? Why do challenges pop up in the public square so frequently? Will we have a government where the members of the party hardly conceal their disdain or dislike for each other? I do not believe that this group can be elected to impose this instability upon the administration of government.

 

WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?

 

It is the normal practice for the manifesto of the parties to be released some short period prior to an election day. In that document, the party will offer their proposals, but not with enough time for it to be adequately analysed and modified, if necessary. This is expected and accepted. However, given the mantra that the People's National Party (PNP) has passed International Monetary Fund tests, but fails the people's test, what would the JLP offer to allow them to pass the people's test while correcting the economy?

How would the Opposition induce growth without punishing inflation? How would they attract foreign direct investment? How would they, or would they at all, use tax policy to drive exports and productivity? What would they do differently with justice reform and education?

As long as we do not have some discussions and positions on these matters, we will only be changing the pot for the kettle. I believe the population will say, why bother?

The PNP has more garrison constituencies than the JLP. This gives them a head start in winning state power. The timing of the general election, while the JLP is in disarray, also helps the PNP grab power.

The PNP electoral machinery has traditionally been better serviced than the JLP. As a reflection of this, just look at the number of internal constituency challenges in the PNP now, compared with the JLP. Persons do not challenge without the strong hope, and belief, they will end up winning at the polls.

In addition, the JLP does not appear to be too accommodating of one of their best personalities, Christopher Tufton. For these reasons and more, the JLP will not win the next general election.

- Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.