Mark Wignall | Public apathy towards JLP; PNP worse off
Recent Don Anderson polls have shown that while both political parties are in the doghouse, the People's National Party (PNP) also occupies the lower levels in the fowl coop where it is presently enduring all of the 'blessings' which fall from above, drop after inglorious drop.
This was no great revelation to us, having witnessed the abysmally low turnout in recent by-elections, a retreat of the middle-class vote and hearing the street-level condemnations of the political system. So what if we had a turnout of 86 per cent in 1980, the highest ever recorded, and in recent times it is the norm when barely more than half that percentage now shows up to vote.
Those low levels of voter turnout will be with us for the foreseeable future and there is a solid rationality driving that behaviour. Since 1980, the options have remained the same. It is still a choice between the stale and unimaginative politics of the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and a big dose of whatever shenanigans those parties can cook up while they hold power.
The main national concerns have not changed much, only reshuffled from former days. Violent crime, poor roads and youth unemployment. To our voting-age population, the general retreat is towards the exit, so why waste time mulling over PNP or JLP. The only certainty in making a choice of one over the other is a broken promise and increasingly, governance more than tinged with the arrogance that power often brings.
In the election campaign of 2002 when it seemed as if the PNP was more an election winning fixture in our lives than an effective governance unit, then minister of works, Bobby Pickersgill, promised the nation that the poor road surfaces throughout the island would be a thing of the past.
"Jamaica will be pothole free by 2003," he pronounced, the PNP won again and eventually when 2003 rolled around with more potholes than before, we forgot about his crass, cruel and empty promises and moved on with our lives.
As if to prove that all politics is local, each community across Jamaica is now competing with every other community to determine which one has the most run-down and horribly 'bombed out' road surface. The big promise made by the party which eventually won in 2016 was that we would be able to sleep with our doors open.
The implication in that, as it was assimilated by the dull and ignorant, was that it would happen immediately after the JLP win. Since that time murders have kept up its march towards some yet unspecified record, constantly topping the year which went before.
It is therefore not a great wonder that more of our people exist in their own economic and social space and have figured that although politics exists in their lives whether they care about it or not, they would much prefer not to spread out the politics welcome mat by their front door.
PNP STRUGGLING FOR RELEVANCY
The Anderson polls were not too kind to PNP party leader, Dr Peter Phillips, who had the 'distinction' of being less popular than his own party.
It is always the ideal that a party leader should be a main part of the driving force that gives the party its overall legitimacy and winnability. The polls indicate that Phillips is not now carrying in his persona that leadership magic wand that he so desperately needs as time runs much faster for him than JLP leader, Andrew Holness.
The polls indicate that should an election be called tomorrow the party that Dr Phillips leads would hit a non-existent tape, meaning the PNP would come in second and poor Peter would collect a bronze medal, an imaginary bit of metal that does not exist in politics.
The polls show that although the turnout would likely be in that seemingly immovable slot of just under 50 per cent, the JLP would win again and, without it being articulated, Peter Phillips fate with history would be more like a crash than a destination smartly and strategically sought out.
The high levels of murders have not reflected very poorly on the performance of PM Andrew Holness. What must Peter Phillips do to find his political relevancy?