Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Say something, Andrew

Published:Monday | February 15, 2016 | 2:00 AM

I know that anything can happen come election day, there may be surprises, but I don't see where the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has done enough to lure the voters to their side of the fence.

Many people perceive Portia Simpson Miller as a leader who is not au fait with the essential inner workings of her Government. In trying times like these, they need a leader who is front and centre. They need an inspirational leader who consistently stands out like the large and billowing sails of a ship - a standard, an anchor, a rallying point.

Instead, Mama P is a rouser who appears managerially somnolent until it is (political) showtime and the troops need to be rallied and whipped up. It's then that she comes alive with the vibrancy of an exuberant teenager brimming with boundless energy. It works for a specific ilk within our society, but it's a major turn-off for many people.

Years of putting politics before policies, poor management and pernicious, corrupt practices from both political parties put us in profound and intractable indebtedness. Now, we are no longer the architects of our own future, no longer the masters of our own fate; we are managed and owned by foreign interests and powers. We must supplicate and ratify before committing sparse financial resources to anything.

We are on a long, tortuous and torturous path to recovery. We are trapped in an infinite loop of indebtedness, plagued by indiscipline and crime, burdened by taxation, while being regaled by fervent but affected political promises designed to keep us exactly where we are now and the politicians exactly where they are now.

In spite of all this, there is a very good chance that nothing will change - the PNP will, according to the latest party standings in the Gleaner-Bill Johnson polls, most likely be victorious once again because there is no significant ideological, ethical and managerial difference between them and the JLP.

 

TAKING A GAMBLE

 

In order to eject an entrenched political party, the citizenry has to experience a genuine feeling of endangerment and/or extreme dissatisfaction to the point where they are willing to gamble on a change.

Failing that scenario, the JLP has to present itself as being united, diametric, strong, capable and trustworthy. The JLP needs to offer sweeping and effective changes guaranteed to improve the lot of individuals. The traction that such a party creates must be so powerful that it will make people vote for them.

Given the recent and lingering problems that the country experienced when the JLP was last at the helm, current happenings that bring into question how the party leadership prioritises things, our fiscal commitments, fiduciary constraints and paucity of resources, the rapid-fire electioneering promises being lobbed at us by JLP leader Andrew Holness appear impotent and imprecise.

From a long list spanning free education (with no discernible source of financing it), to the raising of the taxable income threshold (with no discernible source of replacing that income), his proposals have that pie-in-the-sky nebulousness that reek of politicking.

 

BETTER VISION NEEDED

 

Talking about placing "Jamaica on the path to economic growth and job creation ... prosperity ... a bubbling economy ... creating jobs, and giving you the power and independence in your hands to improve your life" doesn't resonate well with our maturing electorate. He needs to wheel and come again; he needs to actually say something of substance.

Diehard supporters will always vote along party lines, but the switchers and undecided voters will probably cast their ballots in favour of the PNP because people are not likely to derail any recovery process that appears to be having some modicum of success, no matter how slow and/or limited. People feel that it is dangerous to switch from one ship to another during a storm, even if the current vessel has obvious flaws.

Whether the JLP or the PNP forms the next administration, a viable democracy needs a strong Opposition. The main role of any Opposition is to question the Government and hold it accountable to the public, but this must be done sensibly, with relevance and efficiency.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.