Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Disrespectful parties taking us for granted

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 2:00 AM

I will be marking my X, and good luck trying to guess where I will be putting it. However, unlike those whose signature is the same as their voting mark, and who blindly follow the politics of colour, it matters to me that my political leaders come clean.

Both the victorious and losing parties have questions to answer. And whatever the outcome, my curiosity is not going to die, because I am a fearless old pussycat who, like any good Taylor, cuts my cloth straight.

All voters should vote based on their consciences, and whichever set of con artist you choose to vote for, or whosoever has skeletons and cemeteries, you should look at their performances.

Let me make it clear. The delayed disclosure about the funding for a house for Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness is a good reason not to vote for him.

Similarly, the iffing and butting and puerile orange herring over the 'defamatory' remark is more bull than on the stud farm. Despite this being track and field season, and her apparent proclivity to jog to her podiums, I don't want a political leader who looks like she is running from her opponent.

Enough is enough! When the house saga began, I wanted to tell Andrew Holness to just stop pretending that everyone knows and tell us how you are able to afford a house that seems to be beyond your income as a politician. However, I am more than a trifle peeved that he took so long to reveal that he had filed the necessary information with the Integrity Commission and, therefore, the myriad questions the PNP was asking were trumped. It brings back memories of the secrecy behind the well-Arthured letters and his party's surreptitious dealings that led to the Christopher Coke saga.

Still, I can't help but reprimand the People's National Party (PNP) for its total lack of diligence in not finding out whether Holness had provided the information. Furthermore, having discovered that Holness had indeed reported the information, its spokesmen are now indicating that he has more questions to answer. What would those questions and mathematics be? Isn't the commission the competent authority to interrogate information that is before it? It is a commission because it should be free from partisan enquiry and oversight.

NASTY NATURE OF POLITICS

And the police commissioner has more than enough capability. Yet, in the same breath, it is declaring that the matter of the house has been closed in their eyes and they are moving on. But then reopen it like an ingrown hair in a pustule.

And Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, we need to hear you speak and stop following the advice of people who have never won a seat for themselves! We in the media are tired of her elusiveness, and a debate-shy Portia is equally undeserving of the neutral vote.

A 'spokes'-man, for me, is someone who, like a bicycle part, is only part of the inner mechanism supporting the wheel. However, it is never in touch with the street, the very surface upon which it rides. Moreover, having one or two spokes that are improperly aligned will totally send the wheel out of tune with the road, and unless the rider is skilful, the bicycle will tumble and the rider will have difficulty finishing the race before the others.

For a large of undecided voters and a significant number of orange-blooded Comrades, the refusal to debate over a 'water off duck's back' statement, the unwise utterances in Sam Sharpe Square or questions that are the purview of an established government entity is simply pretext and not what we believe the prime minister is truly about. However, it might represent her backers, who are just presenting a big front for themselves.

The inquiry from the JLP regarding Peter Phillips' house and other such questions is likewise another tin mackerel. True, it is defensive, and retaliatory, but it is reminiscent of a sore game of football, where one opponent starts kicking down the other team's players because of perceived unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Nonetheless, this is the nasty nature of politics, and I am rather sick of us having to wash mud from our garments, as the political leaders drag the discourse through it.

Still, I will commend the RJR Communications Group for attempting to knock some sense into the heads of both political leaders and have them initially agree to participate in a news forum. The group has this forum weekly. The only difference would be the personae as well as a question-and-answer session. RJR did clearly specify that it was not an alternative to the debate. Rather, "its request was secondary to any participation in JDC debates".

Not to be outdone, someone 'colt the game' and attempted to turn it into something that my colleagues did not intend. Nowhere was it stated that it was a substitute. Nevertheless, the PNP released a statement to that effect and, predictably, the Labourites backed out. Now tell me, when the political ombudsman cannot get the party leaders to meet, what does it say to the neutral voters?

On Wednesday last week, I took the principled position that I would not discuss the parties' manifestos. First of all, a party that knew for several months that its leader was going to call the election should have sent out the document at least a month ago. Or at a minimum, it should have been done the day after the announcement.

Similarly, a government-in-waiting should have presented its own much earlier. How can anyone expect serious discussion and analysis of the proposals and counter proposals, just one week before the event? That is plain disrespectful And in the absence of a debate and a news forum, how will the non-partisan electors properly make up their minds?

The unfortunate thing is that the party faithful on both sides are like the above-mentioned X-men and none of what is in this column will move them. That is - if they read it at all.

- Dr Orville Taylor, senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.