Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Mark Wignall | Bobby Montague and his goat mouth

Published:Sunday | November 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Bobby Montague


The Thursday before the US presidential elections, I was by a gully-bank community off Red Hills Road and I was on the phone with Bobby Montague.

Mr Montague wears many hats, but he is best known as Jamaica's national security minister. He is also JLP MP for Western St Mary and chairman of the JLP.

It may not be known by many but Montague knows politics inside out and he understands how people respond to political messages. Most important, he knows his constituents and how political strategy plays out at election campaign time.

I was on the phone with him to get his unvarnished views on the US elections. "I know the JLP is historically allied to the Republican Party in the US, so I would much prefer if your opinions are not coloured by that. Who do you believe will win the presidency?" I asked.

"Trump is going to win."

"Bobby, please tell me this is a joke," I said.

"Let me explain. First of all, when I told you late last year and in January that the JLP would win the elections, you did not believe me, but I understand. You were going by the polls. But let me explain why Trump will win.

"After the 2012 loss, the Republican Party knew that if it continued on a business-as-usual approach, especially when minorities were not exactly flocking to it and the demographics were against it, it had to change course. So what it did was send huge teams of people out into the rural areas to register the rural white vote and keep them constantly energised.

"All of this was done under the radar and the Democrats were apparently unaware of it. I don't want to comment too much on the Republican candidate because, well, we have had better ones in the past.

"If you noticed, Trump had many meetings in these rural areas of the battleground states and on his way back, had a big one in the big city nearest."

"But his message. Bringing back jobs -"

"That is resonating with them because all the good jobs are in the environs of the city or globalisation has taken the overseas. A rural man in his late 50s with not much education who saw his good-paying job in a car assembly plant move overseas or his coal mining job disappear is seeing foreigners, immigrants and the 'establishment' as the target of his disgust. His educated child has moved to the city, got a decent-paying job but he is stuck in his rural setting. He is angry and tailor-made for Trump. Yes, he is going to win."


Montague: JLP will win the local government elections


Local government elections are to be held on November 28 and, if Bobby Montague's goat mouth holds true, the JLP will indeed win.

Last Wednesday when we spoke, Mr Montague was sounding upbeat. "The JLP administration is still young and the people of this country know that the change to effective government at the local level takes time. In terms of actual work on the ground, I think you are aware of what Chris (Tufton) has been doing in the anti-Zika V fight. In employing young people to go into homes to tackle mosquito breeding sites I think that has been paying dividends."

"Bobby, a lot of people see local government as this other layer of government which is there for the main purpose of providing a feeding tree for partisans."

"I am glad you mentioned that. Ask yourself which of the political parties has the most contractors who somehow conveniently run for parish council seats? Do your checks. We the JLP did not create the problems in South East St Ann and in the Hanover parish councils. The people have seen these things happening, and come November 28 they will be doing the sensible thing ."

"I have contacts in the PNP and they tell me that the PNP is much better organised than it was in the few months following the February 25 loss. They say a PNP win, a shocker is there waiting for your party."

"You know I have always been frank with you," said the JLP Chairman. "There is another reality that you have probably not yet considered. When the government is in the hands of one party and the parish council is in the hands of the other party it always seems to erupt in chaos. Nothing gets done.

"Jamaican people are much more educated and sensible than 30, 40 years ago. They know that the JLP just won the elections, and the way they see it, it makes no sense to hand power to the PNP in the parish councils when its house is still not in order."


America not ready for woman president?


One of the really crazy bits of stats that came out in the wash after the US elections is the fact that 53 per cent of white women voted for Trump. In other words, there was no 'sister-to-sister' support vote. No surprise that he got 63 per cent of the white male vote, but what could explain 13% of the black male vote going to Trump.

"I would never rule out a sexist vote," said Natasha, a 35-year-old Jamaican-American living in Brooklyn. "I was embarrassed to see some of our black men saying that Trump's Hollywood Access hot mic moment made them more attracted to him."

I can remember back in 2006 when Portia Simpson Miller was in the PNP presidential race, one very well-known PNP politician with mid-island connections saying to me, "Who? Me? No woman can rule me!"

Of course, it will take the political analysts and especially what one writer called 'political pathologists' to figure out exactly what went wrong from healthy polls for Clinton to her major losses in her blue states.

Forty-year-old Deirdre runs a lucrative hair salon in uptown Jamaica. She has US citizenship and voted for Clinton. "I have not heard many people talking about this, but the way I see it, white America decided on November 8 to avenge the Obama wins in 2008 and 2012. Remember in the Tea Party wave in 2010, the words were all about 'taking our country back'.

"When Trump came up with 'Make America Great Again', it simply meshed with that 2010 message. Placing America back in white hands."


Sexism factor


When I asked her if she saw sexism as a factor, she laughed out loud. "Sexism is a factor every day of a woman's life. I believe the old boys' club won."

Iyana is a Jamaican studying at a university in Midwest America. The 20-year-old Immaculate Conception old girl said, "Congress and the Senate, in real terms, hold the levers of power. The president doesn't matter much. They have not yet destroyed America, and I don't believe that the halfwit Trump is going to do much damage either."

She had some firm advice for the Jamaican-Americans bleating over the Clinton loss. "Jamaicans, stop worrying about Trump about to destroy America so you can't live there anymore, and focus on trying to improve our own more messed-up country that you ran away from to begin with. I harbour, too, much disappointment and anger at Jamaica to waste it on America.

"We need to channel this energy into building Jamaica instead of trying to figure out if men didn't like Clinton or her sisters abandoned her. In many ways, it's still a man's world, but we women allow that, so when crap is broken, we can't blame them."

A whopping 33 per cent of Latino men and 26 per cent of Latinas voted for Trump. Yes, there is a real need for a pathological analysis of that election.

- Mark Wignall is an analyst. Email feedback to ad