The 2011 people's revolt
by Daniel Thwaites
The evidence suggests that there's a PNP mole in the JLP's G2K organisation. I suspect it's the person who crafted the expensive ad campaign against Portia Simpson Miller. G2K has become the PNP's secret but reliable weapon, utterly failing to realise that the contempt and scorn it so naturally spewed towards Portia is perfectly understood by the average extraordinary Jamaican, who concludes, "That's what they think about me!"
Seriously, though, the election campaign reminded me how much class divisions continue to define Jamaican life. How else to explain the bitter anger and incomprehension of so many of our supposedly 'educated' people that Mrs Simpson Miller is popular and beloved. Once upon a time there were Marxists who decried this sort of thing.
One curious feature of our class system is the asymmetry in respect and support between those at the bottom and those at the top. The majority of Jamaicans will vote for and support a person from a privileged background if they believe she's genuine and means the country well. The privileged, however, are generally loath to return the favour.
In my view, the emphatic JLP rejection is a direct result of the Dudus cataclysm, the persistent economic blundering, and the record number of scandals in such a short time. With Dudus, the JLP leadership ransomed the entire nation on the altar of a friendly drug kingpin and then threw in a state-sponsored massacre and tonloads of lying and deception to round out the affair. On the economy, the feeling was that Audley Shaw took a job he couldn't manage.
Interestingly, as the PNP hurricane was rolling onshore, almost all the meteorologists ignored the warnings and got it dead wrong. It is regrettable that The Gleaner became caught in this embarrassment.
The Observer was unabashedly in full-throated campaign mode, while various other news organs spread misinformation and rumour as fact. We were told that Western Westmoreland and Central Westmoreland were 'in play', only to see Wykeham McNeill and Roger Clarke decisively crush their opponents. South East St Andrew wasn't even close, as Julian Robinson perfunctorily dismissed Dwight Nelson.
Richie Parchment in South East St Elizabeth was told that he was seriously trailing the incumbent Witter, but then delivered a smackdown. D.K. Duncan was a celebrated hopeless cause in Eastern Hanover, but he is returning to Parliament.
This wasn't always a matter of getting incorrect information from pollsters. In Central Kingston, Nationwide predicted an upset, and then The Gleaner (on the basis of an unnamed source) printed something similar. An available poll, to put it mildly, did not support this speculation. Perhaps the more than 20 per cent spread in the electoral result settles the matter?
It is scandalous that, in general, the media could have been so seriously and persistently misinformed and wrong. I wonder how much introspection may come after this. Not much, I bet. This is why I've taken to advising young people to go into the media if they desire to exercise power without responsibility.
The appalling treatment dished out to data-driven Don Anderson cannot have escaped anyone's attention. The man was instantly pilloried and ridiculed for saying the PNP would win. Today, he stands head and shoulders above all others. It turns out that the JLP had created an echo chamber of PR. Having paid for an image, it then fell in love with it, and is still in shock and awe that the rest of Jamaica didn't do the same.
Some giant-slayers have emerged. Nobody in the commentariat was predicting that Joylan Silvera would turf out Bobby Montague, who seemed set to assume the chairmanship of the JLP. Hugh Buchanan has his father smiling and the pundits confused and disoriented. Paul Buchanan and Keith Walford came in completely below the radar of the newsmen whose jobs are to report these things to us.
Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams has properly buggered up Clive Mullings' plans, and freed him to pursue Bible-thumping, which is evidently his true calling. He can join Herro Blair on the mission to elevate bullying cruelty as appropriate Jamaican Government health and social policy.
The Jamaican people have revolted against the media's narrative about who it is appropriate and acceptable to support. The JLP has been sent packing in less than one term, with massive deficits, debt and poverty as its legacy. Oh, yes! Let's not forget the arrogant contempt of G2K's clever little advertisements, the catchy 'vote-fa-Laayba' tune, and a few half-built, overpriced roads.
Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in New York, and currently qualifying for the Jamaican Bar. Email feedback to email@example.com.