Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Political football 101

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM
PNP President Portia Simpson Miller leading Dwayne Vaz (left) to the nomination centre for him to contest a by-election in Central Westmoreland last year on a PNP ticket. Vaz sucessfully retained the seat for the party.

Hi, Dwayne Vaz!

Remember me? I won't be forgetting YOU for a while, Dwumbert. The recent upsurge of politically connected gun violence, especially in and around Montego Bay, has brought to mind pictures of you prancing about on a MoBay stage exhorting Comrades to "load up the gu. ...".

Don't get me wrong, Dweeblefester, I'm not saying Comrades shot up the JLP's Super Bowl Sunday mass rally or subsequent motorcade. I'm not even suggesting there's a direct link between your lyrical loony tunes and those tragedies. However, it remains incontrovertible that your confrontational antics helped create an atmosphere that permits, and encourages political violence and set back the valiant struggle against the scourge Jamaica has been successfully waging for 30 years. That's unforgivable.

Dwunston, when, from a political platform, you called upon a song with lyrics like "mek we ... tek the lead inna war"; "Nobody nah go VEX if we kill dem. Di coppa shot dem from mi gun mi put it in dem" and, my personal favourite, "The way mi love killin, mi put it inna mi song dem" were you aware that:

* Immature Jamaican political parties often arrange for paid and transported crowds to pack public thoroughfares at night as illusions of support?

* The anonymity of these crowds provides cover and inducement for thuggery?




If you weren't aware, your candidacy should be terminated for gross ignorance (which, as you should also know, is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance).

But Dwisaster shouldn't shoulder blame alone. The highly paid political ombudsman seemed to consider the infraction insignificant, so she accepted as amends a facile apology and a seminar hosted by Dwedwood. At the seminar, he reportedly said:

"Those of you who follow media, and social media would know of an incident that happened with me couple months ago."

"An incident that happened with me?" INCIDENT? No, Dwormhead, this was no "incident". This was YOU, from a political platform in YOUR capacity as a political leader, promoting a song containing the most horrifically violent lyrics. Don't you dare try to obfuscate this as an "incident".

What'd you mean by "that happened WITH me"? Who else was involved, Dwanker? Were you touched?

No, Dwimwit, this didn't "happen" with you. You initiated and deliberately persisted with it for days despite the grave implications.

"But, as I said, everyone around me provided a level of guidance, and I was able to accept what I did, and ... realise what was the best way to move forward. And, I can tell you that I have already moved forward from that."




Who guided you? Shaggy and RikRok? Dwumble, "what I did" isn't an admission of any specific wrongdoing, just a casual, arrogant, dismissive avoidance of acceptance that reeks of insincerity. I also note your sole concern is how best YOU can "move forward". What about the rest of Jamaica, Dwumbo? How do WE "move forward"? It's like Bruce Reynolds saying "I've moved forward" after the Great Train Robbery.

How can Jamaica move forward? First, Dweedledum must accept wrongdoing in specific language. Then, acknowledging the effect of his antics on the political landscape, he should remove himself from this election process, paving the way for sincere introspection and renewal. Then the ombudsman must earn her pay, stop relying on passing the buck and "moral suasion", and ban all mass rallies. Politicians could try campaigning the old-fashioned way, house to house.

The PNP's support of Dwayne Vaz is in stark contrast to JLP's treatment of Devon Wint in WC St Catherine. Why wouldn't PNP publicly condemn such egregious behaviour by a young candidate? I know. I know. Me, Teacher. Me, Teacher! He passes every IMF test. He owes no taxes.

We left the political football game in progress last-week with the score one-all. Latest score: PNP 1, JLP 2.

Now for JLP's marketing (oops, sorry, "10-point") plan.

1) We'll reform government and establish a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.


Growth and job creation


Seriously? Didn't they scream bloody murder in 2012 that the Cabinet was too big? What's this but another unnecessary ministry? How does additional bureaucracy stimulate growth and job creation? Or is this a back-door method of making Audley 'Are You' Shaw merely a 'sign-for' finance minister? DWL.

2) We'll immediately restore [junior stock market benefits] ... .

3) We're committed ... to [real tax reform]; lower taxes and a business-friendly tax system. We'll again reduce transfer taxes, stamp duties, estate taxes, and ... , to help our economy grow, we'll get rid of personal income tax for everyone who earns a gross salary of J$1.5m or less.

All good ideas, but will the IMF agree? I'm sure PNP's increase of transactional taxes and hostility to the Junior Market wasn't voluntary. Why would Shaw, whose IMF relationship was tenuous at best, have any better luck?

I'm hearing the plan is to remove the tax threshold from people earning more than $5 million per year. This would be a backward step. We tried varying tax rates with mostly negative economic effect until they were abolished by Edward Seaga in 1985. Thereafter, growth rates took off for the next five years. Shaw introduced varying tax rates (temporarily) in 2010 to no avail. This return to the Dark Ages will only ensure a national maximum wage of $5 million per year and a Tax Administration stretched beyond its limit conducting thousands of tax audits.

Despite Peter Phillips' Prophet of Doom impression, lower income taxes are established growth tools. Congratulations to Young Andrew for thinking outside the box, but implementation strategies need refining.

4) Apart from divestment of loss-making government entities ... , we'll list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange state-owned enterprises ... .

Oh, dear. Listing state-owned companies means they'll cease to be state-owned. This is just another, more complicated, description of "divestment".

5) We'll make strategic capital investments in water. Jamaica isn't short of water; this government doesn't know how to manage water ... .

Details, please? What "strategic" investments? How'll the JLP raise the money? Borrow again? Or ask China to invest more?

Any water plan that doesn't begin with the replacement of every inch of underground distribution pipes and then provide for harvesting and transfer of north coast rainwater to the south coast is a waste of time.

6) We'll reform NHT, Housing Agency and Mortgage Bank to expand affordable housing construction and reduce interest rates on mortgages. We'll create a special intergenerational 50-60-year mortgage [to] make home ownership/payments easier.

ROFL. When the JLP was in power, the NHT was targeted as a source of drought relief funding/fiscal consolidation, but then NHT Chairman Howard Mitchell acted professionally in rejecting the plan. The PNP showed greater pillaging skills and greater dexterity in appointing malleable boards. How long to complete this promised 'reform'? Will board appointments be made transparently? Or will cronyism continue to be the NHT mantra?

What's an "intergenerational" mortgage? Who signs? Only registered proprietors can mortgage property.

7) We'll create a special council of investment ambassadors tasked to specially seek out large investors from all over the world and bring them to Jamaica.

Jesus H. Christ on a Japanese crutch! More first-class trips for political idlers to "seek out large investors"? Good grief! How'll this work? Another new ministry named Ministry of Stalkers, Beggars and Kidnappers? What'd be the role of the foreign affairs, trade and commerce ministries? What's the private sector been doing all these years?

8) We're committed to improving the skills of Jamaicans ... . All young people not in a job or ... school will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills, and attitude through a National Apprenticeship Programme and a National Service Programme ... .

These programmes are already in place. What's needed is reform of ALL training programmes to equip youth for life in a global village.

9) We'll advance Jamaica as a digital society. An important step on this part is to digitise all government records ... .

LOL. Seriously? A good plan, but who'll operate this digital government short term? Will public servants be trained for a digital future? When?

10) We'll revitalise and rebuild town centres and cities ... . We'll start with the redevelopment of the Kingston waterfront and market district.




Kingston restoration has been limping along for decades. How exactly do you plan to accelerate and expand this islandwide? How'll violent crime affect those plans?

JLP keeps saying it makes "commitments", not "promises". My dictionary defines 'commitment' as "a promise to do something or to behave in a particular way". Andrew, a "commitment" IS a "promise"! C'mon, man! We're not stupid. We're tired (and sick) of gimmicks.

The PNP simply points to four years of economic foundation-building (details an open book) upon which all else can be developed and invites us to stay on board as they move to 'step up the progress'!

PNP 2, JLP 2.

Peace and love.

 - Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to