Spanner in the election works?
Last Monday morning, just as I was trying to come to terms with a likely clash between numbers coming out of the Bill Johnson and Don Anderson polls and the mix of seething anger and voting silence among the electorate, I received calls from two politicians.
One was from a high-powered JLP ex-minister and the other came from a PNP activist. Both were still convinced that elections would be called this year. The JLP politician had a Machiavellian twist to the call. According to his info, the date is November 23.
"The Electoral Office prefers Monday elections because it gives it the time to prepare the schools for voting centres the day before - Sunday - and there is just one schoolday lost. But I want you to consider something else. Who in the PNP is calling for elections?"
I responded. "The call has been placed in Dr Peter Phillips' mouth, but obviously we know it is going to be made by the prime minister. I don't understand your question, though."
"Many pundits like yourself have signed off on one conclusion - that the PNP is going to win the next elections. None of you are considering a JLP win," he said.
"That is not true. I have tried to examine all the factors that would lead to a possible JLP win. Troubling unemployment rates, the idling factor among the youth population, and the high murder rate. Plus a general sense of hopelessness. When I add all of that to the poor governance in general, it is difficult to see any area of performance apart from how Phillips has been handling the IMF regime. What I am not seeing is an Opposition JLP making that final sale that it is ready to handle the final takeover of governance."
He said, "Dr Phillips has been making the call and I am getting a sense that it suits him to allow the PNP to lose the election. Who wins if the PNP loses? He does. He figures that whichever party wins will not be able to hold power for the whole term and, thus, there would be a leadership change and he would become PM."
"No, I can't agree with you there. You are actually trying to make a case that Phillips has way more power than he really has. The way I figure it, if the PNP wins, there would still be a leadership change. By that time, Portia would want to go out in style, so it would not be too troubling for her to seamlessly pass power to Peter."
"But what if it goes to Paulwell? What happens to Phillips then? Think on it, Mark."
"So, how many seats are going to be won by the JLP in this massive win you are seeing?" I asked.
He paused, then said, "I don't even want to go there with you yet, because I know you have not yet considered a JLP win." Very strange ending to his reasoning.
According to my PNP activist friend, the election is set for November 26. "And this is gospel?" I asked.
"November 26 and the PNP will be taking home 43 seats," he said. I asked him if he had been paying attention to the various polling. "We watch the polls, but we are not guided by them. Big business is fully on board, and we are going in just like the last election to target the seats that we know are winnable."
When I enquired about the Cameron prison controversy and the sense that the country is just headed in the wrong direction, he said, "Many things that pundits like you believe are important to election wins are not the things which win elections.
"I want you to ask a question. Which political party has an account with just a little more than $600,000 in it and, in this election season, that amount cannot even fund two hours on election day?"
I then called a friend of mine, a real political watcher and, although he is a JLP MP, he has never been the sort to shy away from baring it as he sees it.
"I think that, as a country, we should hang our heads in shame. The low performance rating of both of our political leaders cannot give any of them reason to crow.
"We are going to see the lowest turnout in the history of this country. And we know how that goes. It gives the incumbent the opportunity to use money power to pick off the seats it wants."
The PNP goes into retreat now, but will it retreat on election this year.
- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to email@example.com.