Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 2:00 AM

I have very good friends on both sides of the political divide, but I refuse to align myself with any political party. I want to be free to criticise or congratulate as I see the need.

Given our current economic vicissitudes, I didn't believe that the leader of the Opposition said enough substantively to cause the country to change course away from the current recovery programme being undertaken by the People's National Party (PNP). I perceived the recovery plan being proffered by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as a gamble that the country would not take.

Well, obviously, the people who came out to vote (albeit a small fraction of the electorate) believed that a change is needed and are willing to commit themselves to whatever the JLP has to offer. The PNP did several things wrong and the JLP did several things right. The JLP closed a massive gap in Parliament and (so far) eked out an extremely narrow lead.

Without being partisan or acrimonious, for analytical purposes, people are wondering where the PNP went wrong. Some possible reasons come to mind. It's a fact that many citizens feel alienated by the persona portrayed by the leader of the PNP. There is a consistent and persistent pandering to one class of Jamaicans. It's as if the votes of the rest of society don't really matter. Some were hoping to see the reins promised to Dr. Peter Phillips. Many among the intelligentsia grew weary of the non-presence, hype, and stage antics. They felt taken for granted and counted out. They were so turned off that they withdrew from participating in the election process.

 

Mansion discussion

 

The matter of Mr Holness' Beverley Hills mansion should either have been left alone or delved into fully. The half-hearted broaching of the subject only served to draw his supporters closer. If a political party is going to make an issue of something, it must be done in totality. If the integrity of a public official is in question, then it should have been fully investigated and exposed with or without an impending general election.

The back-and-forth bickering and threats of lawsuits only serve to diminish the authority of the people in power. The refusal to debate was a fatal error. If I had issues with a candidate, I would still engage in a debate and demand an apology right there and then on stage. Ducking the debate weakened the position of the prime minister ... it made her appear inadequate and afraid. Avoiding the opportunity to debate matters of national importance reeked of groundless confidence and was the last straw for many doubters. It emboldened the voters, who had seen enough shilly-shallying and wanted a change.

Many are wondering how the JLP plans to pull off its proposed economic revolution. It has provided Jamaicans who are suffering and see no way out of their dark fiscal catacombs a glimmer of hope. If the PNP wanted to debunk those proposals, it should have tackled them individually and provided credible scenarios to show why they think that the plans were doomed to fail. The debate was needed here. Generalised responses seemed deflective and non-specific. Keeping in mind how much people like the promise of freeness and the possibility of more money in their pockets, the proposals deserved much more attention from the PNP.

A 'socialist-leaning' friend of mine expressed shock and consternation at the PNP defeat but, earlier on in the day, she went into a tirade about how she wasn't going to vote because she no longer saw Jamaica as her country; she wants to migrate. She fumed that she was not poor enough or rich enough to survive in this country. She said that Jamaica doesn't like people like her. She complained that the motto, 'Out of Many, One People', was not that way anymore. She was alluding to the sad truth that the middle class is stressed and overburdened.

Way too many Jamaicans have disengaged themselves from our politics. We are now left to wonder if the new Government is truly representative of our people.

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