Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Portia wrong to have believed the hype

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2016 | 12:03 AMLipton Matthews



Portia Simpson Miller is by far Jamaica's most popular politician. However, her recent defeat at the polls suggests that voters are maturing. Leaders like Mrs Simpson Miller can no longer win an election solely on charisma.

Mrs Simpson Miller failed to realise that citizens are becoming more demanding of politicians, especially in this age of social media, when information is more accessible. Portia Simpson Miller and others in her party were so confident in their belief that Jamaicans did not care about the issues that they saw no issue in not participating in a national debate.

Even when it became evident that the Jamaica Labour Party's campaign was about national issues, the PNP refused to accept the changing environment.

There was even a glaring difference in how both parties approached their respective mass rallies. At rallies of the JLP, Andrew Holness and other speakers would seek to inform the masses about constitutional and economic matters. It was most satisfying to hear Mr Holness explain to the audience why he thought the decision to hedge against oil prices was a bad one. However, the mass rallies of the PNP were more like parties, with unnecessary music and dancing. One speaker was also bold enough to declare that Jamaica was a PNP country.

Although the JLP released two 10-Point Plans that gained momentum, with one aiming to improve the economy and the other to make the ICT sector competitive, the PNP continued to play politics by making outlandish claims about the ability of Mr Holness to build his house in Beverley Hills.

But the biggest mistake of the PNP was to believe that Portia could win the election solely on her popularity. Polls were showing as early as last year that Portia was running out of steam.

Jamaicans did not appreciate the fact that as prime minister, she refused to comment on important matters, but never wasted time in responding to critics. We also did not like the lack of accountability in her administration.

Future leaders should learn from the defeat of the PNP that winning an election is not an award, but rather an opportunity to develop the country. It would also suit the PNP to accept the fact that the articulate minority is growing, while the party's diehard supporters are dying.