Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Mark Wignall | PNP, you're in a bad place

Published:Sunday | December 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM
President Donald Trump reacts to laughter from diplomats during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25.

It is by no means a fallacy to understand that party politics is much more about strategy and timing than it is about taking power and finding solutions to a nation's biggest problems. The taking of power must be attained by overpromising with hardly any plans on how to deliver, and timing.

With the brush fires now breaking out in the Opposition PNP, one gets the sense that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has now made the sensible decision that the best time to engage in a despicable photo shoot is when the PNP is at its weakest. On that front, we saw our prime minister in the company of a poster child for policy dunceness in the Trump Cabinet, Ben Carson.

We also were appalled at the prime minister and his acolyte of a finance minister, Nigel Clarke, in the presence of Republican Senator Ted Cruz, whose support for racist causes and personalities has made him no friend of brown people like PM Holness and a black man like the highly educated Nigel Clarke.

But even if we know of the fraternal connections between the JLP and the Republican Party in the USA, and we also know that no sensible person in the JLP would want to loudly endorse any part of Trump's social or economic and foreign policies or, worse, his personality, what we all figured is that a JLP delegation had to have been there, sooner or later.

Maybe something can be attained in getting an increasingly disconnected-from-reality Trump making a special deal to save UC Rusal. With sufficient genuflecting, who knows? Maybe even a special window can be opened for an increase in seasonal workers from Jamaica.

But, it is all about timing and, with the PNP engaging in many acts of self-implosion and setting and trying to out brush fires, the PM and his crew did what they were naturally loath to do.

"We do not wish it to be any other way," said a powerful government minister to me. "Let no one fool you. We are political people first. It is not that we do not have people as our most precious objective, that is, empowering them to bigger things and prosperity. But, where the PNP and its leadership are at this time is exactly where we in the JLP want them. Weak and unable to out the many brush fires burning."

'Why do you want to have a weak Opposition? Is that not counterproductive to the democratic ideal?" I asked.

"You have been reading too many books on political science. The reality of that subject is not taught in universities. It is played out in reality in communities, organising groups, engaging those who have broad influence and in the unpleasantness of fundraising.

"At this time, we have the Opposition PNP over the barrel and we intend to keep it so by supporting the leadership of Dr Peter Phillips. We fully endorse him continuing to lead the PNP into its next defeat in 2020."


What do the taxi men want?


The political high points of the PNP ever since it suffered a mind-numbing close loss to the JLP and found itself tumbling in opposition have been the Cornwall Regional Hospital sick-building syndrome and the obvious looseness of policy and accountability in the leadership of the energy ministry. Problems at Petrojam were bound to continue mounting.

Under the illusion that route taxi drivers who had unleashed their collective power to create physical gridlock over certain urban areas were willing to follow the politically convenient sympathies of the PNP, the Opposition party tried to play both sides by supporting in Parliament broad parts of the proposed new Road Traffic Act, while trying to hoodwink bad-driving taxi men that the PNP was walking in lockstep with their antics.

In the end, it became most pitiful, with one senior member of a route taxi association telling me, "We were genuinely hoping the PNP could lead us into getting to our next action. It never work out. What the PNP and people like Vice-President Mikael Phillips were trying to do was use us to take them or give them a bigger platform. They were only fooling themselves. Wi no fool no longer," he said.

I must confess, though, that when one has the power to block the public roadway, one has close to ultimate power. I wish I had that sort of power when my wife was in the early stages of stepping away from me in the early 1980s. I should have blocked the roads. By the time she returned in 1987, I would be only too willing to support all of the finer points and bigger fines in the proposed new Road Traffic Act. If they were around at that time.


Donald Trump must be stopped now


In no form or setting is the strength and might of a country better tested and proven than in its ability to wage war, win it and then devise social and economic planning to win the peace and rebuild along those lines.

America was in that place at the end of the global horror of WW2 in 1945. It has grown in power since, never having to prove that it can never face down another world power as it did in the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s and bring about a reinforcement of its global strength.

Students of history have always known that USA is at once Dr Jekyll and the horrid Mr Hyde. Its open, human face to the rest of the global community has been one of caring for universal human rights and alleviating hunger and saving the rest of us from our sorry selves.

Overtly, the USA is the good guy in the big story. Covertly, it is a bestseller in the nightmare book list.

For good or bad, most people on the face of this earth prefer USA in charge just as long as it is not in charge of us. Directly. We trust the leader of the USA, the president, to keep the world on an even keel by dispatching foreign-policy experts and diplomats to meet with those leaders in hotspots, whether perennial or newly formed.

We trust that the president of the USA will make us sleep better at nights without having to consider that any lack of resolve on his part may cause the growth of rogue leadership in other countries.

We are at that stage now when a policy dunce President Donald Trump and his abdication of US leadership is causing Putin's Russia to openly flex its muscles.

It cannot be taken as just another international skirmish with Russia pushing hard against the Ukraine. It is not happening in isolation. It is either that President Trump is a Russian mole and he has given Putin free rein over Ukraine or that Putin sees Trump as a buffoon who doesn't know the best time to kick and the rare time to kiss.


Sexual confusion in fancy hotels?


I have been in many of the best all-inclusive hotels in this country and I cannot imagine a scenario that could take place where my lady could be 'groped' by a 'concierge' or a 'butler' attached to the room.

I can understand a man being sex starved because I have been there, many years ago when I was trying to 'find myself' and win back the heart of my wife. But, to be sex starved and working in a hotel with tonloads of beautiful women around is difficult to understand.

Which is the more important? Keeping one's job or getting one's rock off surreptitiously and, probably, 'sinfully'?

One hotel I know of banned Jamaican white rum because a visitor had too much and, while exiting a pool, fell over and 'buss him head'. He sued and won. Big!

No more overproof rum. But, groping?

- Mark Wignall is a public affairs and political commentator. Email feedback to