The elections are in the offerings. Retreat has been held. The prime minister has rested her voice and recharged her soul. The candidate selections are all but complete. Let us engage in what if's.
Take a close-up look at the candidates currently presented by the respective parties. Let us look at those not likely to be on the slate. This will tell a tale, especially through the prism of perceived competence, ideas, drive and willingness to work for the good of Jamaica.
The PNP has omitted Raymond Pryce and Damion Crawford and inserted the very young, inexperienced, but photogenic, Ashley Foster in St James.
The PNP still has some youth with perceived competence in Dayton Campbell and Lisa Hanna. Others are either pensionable (read Portia Simpson-Miller, and Bobby Pickersgill), others have passed their apparent usefulness, Anthony Hylton, Derrick Kellier, Noel Arscott and Phillip Paulwell. Peter Phillips and Omar Davies continue to provide some benefit, but the energy level can be questioned as one looks to the future.
The future dominated by the completion of this extended fund facility with the IMF. There appears to be one elected person in the PNP that has displayed a capability, drive and willingness to shape the future for better, namely Julian Robinson. On the whole the choices are not inspirational. Peter Blake, welfare agent, over Damion Crawford, change agent. What a choice?
The JLP has many challenges. It starts at the top. Andrew Holness is not fit to be either leader of the opposition or prime minister, primarily because of his role in the Senate letters issue. He holds an office noted in the Constitution of Jamaica.
He breached the highest law of the land and has acted as if it does not matter. He and his aides have reportedly said, "the people don't care about that". Sorry Mr Holness, we do care. You are not differential to the law. We are a nation of laws. If you expect us to be law abiding, then it MUST start with you.
What if the JLP were to put the following slate before the nation? What if these persons were polished and shined and presented as the face of the future? Chris Tufton, Nigel Clarke, Ruel Reid, Fayval Williams, Gregory Mair and get it done Daryl Vaz. The Pearnel Charles, J.C. Hutchinson, Karl Samuda, Mike Henry and 'Babsy' Grange are all passed due date. Mr Warmington has passed his useful used-by date, so has Derrick Smith. Audley Shaw may intellectually still be able to manage Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Mike Henry should be the minister without portfolio with responsibility for reparation. Would this happen? I doubt it as Andrew Holness comes across as being so obsessed with marginalising potential that he would rather fail than reposition himself.
What if a JLP Cabinet were to have sub groups charged with the following responsibilities; tax reform and growth. Education, minus the cheap tactic of offering an elimination of auxiliary fees without offering a complete proposal worthy of study.
This ploy of stating it will be revealed in an election manifesto days before the election is flawed. The manifesto is not widely read. Certainly not debated to be influential in any election decision. Cheap gimmicks for a gullible electorate. Make education and health care delivery major planks of government, going forward.
This upcoming election is vitally important. We have begun the process of fixing the economy. It must be followed to a satisfactory conclusion. The people are paying the steep price with restraint worthy of a proud people. However, if the politicians fail us, the price to be paid would be very high. There is no room for keeping non-performers at the trough, simply as a reward for past service. This is the 21st century and we have a nation to build.
Failures must be discarded, promise and potential rewarded and standards set and maintained. Fifty-three years of same old, same old must end. Slogans are useless at this point. Put a premium on performance. We can no longer swap kettle for pot inlaid with mediocrity.
The idea of having private, for profit prisons being established in Jamaica is being debated. This is not a new or novel idea. Some 11 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand engaged in some level of prison privatisation (Colin Dexter, April 14, 2014).
Research to date on private prisons has found that they perform no better than publicly operated facilities and are NOT guaranteed to reduce correctional costs, and provide an incentive for increasing correctional and detention population.
These private institutions have even entered the debate for the upcoming USA Presidential election. Hillary Clinton, Democrat, told leaders of 'Black Lives Matter' movement that she, if elected, will get rid of private prisons (The Hill, October 9, 2015).
Marco Rubio, Republican, has been linked to the private prison industry and they are reported to have amassed, in some countries, more power than the host country. Imagine being threatened with the release of 4,000 hardened prisoners in Jamaica, if the demands are not met. More anon.