Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Awesome Andrew - JLP beats PNP at its own game, organisation

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 11:26 AMGary Spaulding
Prime Minister-designate Andrew Holness
Supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party celebrate victory.

Andrew Michael Holness’ meteoric rise to the zenith of Jamaica’s political showground in 2011, only to be toppled within three months, was not enough to end the dream of the young political warrior.

Neither were the devastating effects of a series of sustained attacks on his leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), as well as the overwhelming defeat in a court battle with two of his party colleagues.

Holness refused to crumble under the weight of the invasion on his personal space through a perceived loophole in the house that he and his wife are building.

In all of the travails encountered Holness was to get assistance came from an unexpected source — some members of the rival People’s National Party (PNP).

Since last Thursday political analysts have pointed to PNP chairman, Robert Pickersgill’s sardonic reference to, “the articulate minority” as an indication of the disrespect that senior members of the Portia Simpson Miller administration treated Jamaicans.

Political observers have also cued in on what they described as Holness’ new found political craft that contrasted with arrogant displays on the campaign trail by the once adroit PNP. According to Holness, instead of crippling him, the jolting experiences on the political trail have had a strengthening effect.

“No party or person must be so comfortable in power to believe themselves entitled to remain as change helps to keep us in check,” Holness told The Sunday Gleaner.

“I think I am a better leader generally because I am still at a stage where I am not set in my ways,” added Holness.

Political scientist, Dr. Hume Johnson agrees. “Holness is smarter, tougher, more mature, more settled, more willing to listen and engage than he was back in 2011,” she asserted.

Fellow political commentator, Richard Hugh Blackford agrees: “If would appear that Holness has learnt from the dismissal that he suffered in 2011.”

When former Prime Minister Bruce Golding resigned in September 2011, Holness hit the political jack pot, or so it seemed, as he was selected to lead the JLP and the government.

But by December 2011, the fledgling Prime Minister was urged to call the election that handed him an unceremonious electoral loss.

Before he could recoup, Holness was soon after, called into political battle against a formidable foe in then JLP deputy leader, Audley Shaw.

After a bruising battle, the Holness conquered the opposing forces but relentless, they came hurtling back at every turn. In the last of the battles within the JLP that he leads, a mere six months ago, Holness survived but only just.

Though wounded, he managed to assemble a force that many doubted could have conquered the mighty PNP.

But in yet another blaze of glory, Holness and his team, out manoeuvred his foes, this time for the other side of the political divide.

According to Johnson, under Holness’ leadership, the JLP clearly worked hard on the ground for this victory.

She said the JLP took advantage of the weaknesses of the PNP's organisational machinery, especially in marginal seats as well as the final few days of the campaign by using the platform to expose weak performance of the PNP in crucial areas.

Johnson argued that Holness’ growing understanding of political strategies was evident as the JLP did not waste time trying to outdo the PNP, as it had done in previous rallies.

“Andrew was smart to stage the Sunday night rally at a time when he could dominate media coverage and get his message across,” she declared.

“Agree with it or not, he had a clear set of policies, including his tax plan which resonated with large pockets of people,” added Johnson.

But she said that with such a low voter turn out of a mere 47 per cent, the result was seemingly more a complete repudiation of the PNP by its own comrades.

For Blackford, the JLP victory was based on its strategy. “The JLP will form the government after a brilliantly executed electoral campaign that outfoxed a pompous and overconfident PNP,” said Blackford as he noted that Holness and his team offered a number of plums to the voters and a plurality accepted.

According to Blackford, Jamaican voters have stated that they are tired of living in the darkening shadows of austerity for such a long period and have opted for his promised prosperity.