Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Labour pains give birth to miracle

Published:Friday | February 26, 2016 | 2:00 AM

 

My Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) friends told me it would happen, and although I listened to them and even agreed that it had more than a possibility of happening, inside me, I was saying there was little chance of a JLP victory.

I have only a small window of opportunity to write this. As it is now, the JLP has picked up 31 seats, and it appears that two more could be trending green. That would be 33-30.

Two days ago, I was in a small gathering of people in a small town square where the majority of them were People's National Party (PNP) supporters. Comrades. Only two men were speaking of a possible JLP victory, and they were, like the PNP supporters, fully on board with the JLP.

They will be happy at this moment and quite probably in the throes of a rum hangover.

How was it possible? I cannot quite recall a time in the recent political history of this country that there was so much upstairs and downstairs in trying to figure out where an election would find its destination.

Can it ever stick to the craw of diehard PNP supporters that the JLP has won the elections? This will take some time to die down in the society.

I am still not quite so sure that it happened. The pollsters cannot be faulted too much, in a technical sense, because it was well within the sample margin of error. The thing is, even though that is so, it kind of sucks that one called the losing party as the winner.

The JLP win satisfies a number of important sociopolitical items. It sends Portia Simpson Miller into the sort of retirement that she never thought possible. It also makes the rise of Peter Phillips to the PNP presidency that more difficult. Certainly the batch of Young Turks who had made their voices heard and were ditched will now be making inroads into the leadership ranks.

I expect that there will be much more tension and increased outbreaks at the second-tier leadership in the PNP than there was in 2015.

Now that the JLP has taken power, what is it going to do with all that power? Is Andrew Holness up to the job of PM? How long will it be before it dawns on him that he is the prime minister of Jamaica - again?

Certainly, when the post-election polls are done, I expect to see that his new tax-reduction package was the killer in the JLP winning the elections. Which, of course, begs a question. Now that Andrew Holness and the JLP have chased down the car and have caught it, what do they intend to do with it? How is the hole in this tax package going to be plugged?

More important, with an IMF regime in place, what realistically can be done to enhance the lives of poorer and working class Jamaicans who invested their votes in the JLP. When the most harsh part of the IMF conditions start to trip in by the end of this year, how will the JLP and Prime Minister-designate Holness sell the message that 'bitter medicine' can be tinged with sugar?

This election victory by the JLP will be written in the narratives of this country. On Tuesday when I spoke with Daryl Vaz and he said, "Markie, it is a tsunami, it is flooding," I felt good for him, as I would for any other politician claiming victory long before it happened or not.

When he then asked me, "What are you picking up?" it drove doubts into me. If there is a tsunami on, why ask me if I am going to get soaked and washed upstream?

After a time in this country, I hold out the hope that a political administration can bring about a revolution in how we approach growth, development and the practice of our politics.

Many will be hoping that it begins with young Andrew Holness, who has attained his life's ambitions. The greater job ahead of him is in creating a path to the development of our people and bringing us into a developed state.

After this, the next generation will not be so forgiving.

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