Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Holness a fool if he doesn’t call election now – Chang

Published:Wednesday | March 4, 2020 | 12:00 AMDanae Hyman/Staff Reporter

Prime Minister Andrew Holness would be a “fool” if he does not call the next general election now given the rock-bottom rating of the Opposition and its leader in the most recent RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll, political commentator Kevin O'Brien Chang has said.

The poll found that 57 per cent of respondents felt that the Opposition is doing a poor or very poor job, while 29 per cent believe that the party’s performance was neither poor nor good. Only 14 per cent rated the Opposition’s performance as good or very good.

But the PNP’s dilemma is exacerbated by party President Dr Peter Phillips ranking worse than the Opposition he leads. Sixty-two per cent of respondents rated Phillips as doing a poor or very poor job, with only six per cent ranking him as very good and eight per cent as good.

Twenty-four per cent of the 1,038 respondents said his performance was neither poor nor good. The margin of error is three per cent.

“Election is a type of war where there is no shooting, but you war with ballots, and when your enemy is unprepared and confused, you attack,”Chang, a pharmacy chain tycoon, told The Gleaner yesterday.

“Figuratively, a good general sees the opposition is weak, is unpopular, they don’t look ready, what are you waiting on to attack? For them to strengthen and repel your attack? You attack when your enemy is weak. ... Mr Holness would be a fool not to,” Chang said.

The commentator warned the Holness administration that dithering on the polls could leave it vulnerable to variables such as the global novel coronavirus outbreak, which has already been projected to cause economic fallout here. If COVID-19 is declared a global ­pandemic, the Jamaica Labour Party’s favourability could plunge, Chang said.

A general election is constitutionally due by 2021 but is widely expected to be held later this year.

WORST PERFORMER

The poll, which surveyed respondents between February 8 and 18, found that Phillips was considered to be Jamaica’s worst-performing opposition spokesperson (11 per cent). Opposition Spokesperson on Education Peter Bunting, who is considered the party’s best-­performing representative, led a failed bid to oust Phillips as president in September 2019. Bunting lost by 76 votes, or less than three per cent.

“If the PNP had a race now, Peter Bunting probably would win it. Nobody who has been following the news is surprised because Dr Phillips repeatedly speaks without consulting his people,” Chang said.

According to the political commentator, the PNP might resurrect its popularity if Phillips regained control of his party and corrected his “flock” as a good “shepherd” in the public’s eye.

Human-rights activist and public affairs commentator Jaevion Nelson said that the poll results showed the scale of the deficit that Phillips faces.

“That is shocking! As the opposition leader, one would expect that he would poll higher and would not be seen as one of the worst-performing opposition spokesperson,” Nelson told The Gleaner.

“As Opposition, one would think that his messages would resonate with the public, but this really says a lot about how people view him, and so there is critical need for work urgently, especially since we are in the time now for an election.”

danae.hyman@gleanerjm.com