Sat | Aug 19, 2017

This poll made PNP postpone 2015 election

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM

As arranged, we met at the back of a small, dingy bar high in the St Andrew hills where the quiet and seclusion were ideal for our agreement. Information on an islandwide poll conducted over the three days of October 30, 31 and November 1.

As we sat at the small, low table and he pushed the document towards me, I said matter-of-factly, "This is my copy."

"No. No copies. Make all the written notes you want, but no copies." Nothing strange about that arrangement. I browsed through the preliminaries. And then I came upon what I knew had to be there. Probes into how respondents viewed the Cameron prison offer and reaction to the dead babies scandal that brought about national contention and, ultimately, the removal of the minister of health.

Asked as to whether these very public matters would make them more or less likely to vote for the PNP, a measly and predictably small six per cent said the Cameron prison offer would make them more likely to vote PNP. A huge plurality measuring 42 per cent said it would make them less likely to vote PNP.

A bare three per cent were those representing the 'more likely to vote PNP' in the wake of the dead babies scandal, while 46 per cent said it would make them less likely.

"I am going to ask you straight and plain," I said. "Why would you, as a well-known supporter of the PNP, want to leak PNP business in that it was the PNP or people close to the hierarchy of the party who commissioned the poll?"

His brief smile was replaced by a moment's frown. "You know I am not a Portia person. The poll doesn't look good for her. Plain explanation as you like it."

The poll referenced six previous polls and did a list of comparisons. In December 2011, just when the PNP was all but obliterating the JLP at elections, 27 per cent believed that the country was moving in the right direction, compared with 54 per cent who believed the opposite.

In the present poll, only 14 per cent see the country moving in the right direction while a whopping 68 per cent are of the view that the country is headed in the wrong direction, certainly not exactly a ringing endorsement of the PNP as expressed by big business interests.

A not-insignificant 29 per cent believe it is likely to get better, but 38 per cent share the view that it is likely to get worse. A few months ago, an explosion of violent crime in communities and parishes not previously known to exhibit those subcultural blots made it appear once again that the security forces were losing the battle with young, gun-toting gangsters.

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness was heavily criticised for saying on a political platform that a vote for the PNP was likely a vote in support of murder because violent crime tends to rise under PNP administrations.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents believe that criminality is likely to get worse over the next two years, while only 11 per cent are saying it is likely that there will be an improvement. Not good at all.

 

PORTIA'S CHANGING

 

 

FORTUNES

 

At the end of 2011, 50 per cent of the people had a favourable view of Portia compared to 37 per cent who expressed unfavourable views. In the present poll, those numbers are showing a reverse with 35 per cent having a favourable view of the PM and 47 per cent expressing unfavourable views.

It is useful to state that while Andrew Holness and the JLP was being handed a trashing in 2011 the favourable/unfavourable view of the JLP leader was in positive favourability at 47|37%.

In three polls conducted in September (two) and October, an average of 25 per cent said they would like to see Portia re-elected, while an average of 57 per cent were saying they did not wish to see her re-elected. Bear in mind, of course, that these numbers include both likely voter and those indicating that they do not intend to vote.

My own assessment is that a low turnout at the next election will be in the favour of the ruling PNP. I say this because those giving the party positive views are in the minority of the voting population, but more concentrated near to its base support.

In December 2011, positive ratings of the PNP's performance (very good, good) were 35 per cent. In the present poll, the party led by Portia has sunk to a new low in performance ratings to 20 per cent.

There doesn't seem to be any clear line of correlation between a number of factors such as person best suited to be PM, favourable/unfavourable rating of both parties, and party best suited to govern.

As an example, at the very time when the PNP was cleaning up at the 2011 election, Andrew Holness was more highly rated (42 per cent) as person who respondents thought would do the best job as PM than Portia Simpson Miller at 39 per cent, but the difference falls within the sample margin of error.

In the present poll, Portia (31 per cent) finds herself seven percentage points behind Holness who scores 38 per cent. Significant difference this time around.

In 2011, the PNP's favourability, at 47 per cent, was seven percentage points ahead of its unfavourable ratings. In the present poll, the PNP's favourability rating has taken a battering with its rating of 35 per cent lagging 14 percentage points behind its unfavourability rating of 49 per cent, not exactly good indicators to carry into a 2015 election.

While the JLP's favourability rating showed better ratings in 2011 (42%|39%)when compared with the present poll findings (35%|47%), the same cannot be said for its ratings as the party that would do the best job of governing the country.

In December 2011, the PNP was scoring higher than Portia, which is a significant observation. In that poll, the PNP was a mere three percentage points ahead of the JLP in terms of party best suited for governing the country. In the present poll, the PNP is four percentage points behind the JLP, again not an encouraging factor to generate a 2015 election.

 

Is the IMF running

 

 

out of patience?

 

It may have been discussed on the various talk shows and even I may have mentioned it on radio links like Newstalk 93 and Nationwide Radio. What is it? The PNP's dishonesty in not trusting the people enough to disclose that the real reason it wanted the 2015 election was that it wanted to be free to tackle some very unpleasant social and fiscal fixes that are part of the original IMF conditions.

The people are there to be bamboozled while the political directorate doles out selective bits of truths with misdirected chunks of double-speak added to keep them blissfully confused.

It is quite obvious that as the PNP and the governmental administration it operates looked ahead to early 2016 and deep into the year, it knew that the bitter medicine which then PM Andrew Holness saw coming in 2011 had been postponed in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and at the end of 2015, the IMF was no longer in a mood to throw the administration's way another set of security blankets.

The IMF is about to play hardball and it appears that its demands on two of its conditions, reducing the size of government relative to GDP and pension reform, are about to come to a head before mid-2016.

To keep the civil service at its same level would require huge investments which should have come on board in 2012 to 2014. We have seen some growth in the tourism sector where the all-inclusive brand and quiet deals cut between the hotel industry and street elements in economically deprived inner-city communities constantly work to keep the hotel industry safe. And a few call centres.

The prime minister and our hard-working finance minister ought to know that Jamaicans are seeing the light much clearer than before. The failure to come clean to the people would be at this time mere formality because those who have seen the light have made the decision that they will not be voting.

The IMF knows the truth. The people know the truth. The PNP administration is dangerously playing with it.

- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and observemark@gmail.com.