Glenn Tucker, GUEST COLUMNIST
"Power is insinuating. Few men are satisfied with less power than they are able to procure ... . No lover is ever satisfied with the first smile of his mistress."
- William Henry Harrison, speech during presidential campaign, 1840.
The ability of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to shoot itself in the foot when it should be running is truly remarkable. And which of us could honestly say that - given their history - this wasn't predictable?
Audley Shaw has decided to challenge Andrew Holness for the leadership of the JLP. Some apologists claim that this is a sign that the party is democratic. That is a duppy story. Others claim that it will make the party 'stronger'. That is the purest piece of Anancyism since the Michael Manley era.
Mr Holness is offering a different style of leadership. He has promised the political pearls of truthful and transparent governance. But we do not wear pearls in this country, Mr Holness; we devour oysters. RAW.
Mr Shaw's reason for challenging Mr Holness is that the party is too silent. He plans to go around the country meeting, talking and explaining what is happening and what the JLP intends to do differently. To describe this idea as excellent is to place a pot of water on a hot stove and become excited because it starts to bubble. It is the only way the JLP is going to see Jamaica House again.
On the night of her defeat, Portia Simpson Miller promised the victors that she was going to be their "worst nightmare". She hit the ground running and - media in tow - went into the highways and byways to talk to the people. She worked!
Yes, most of what she told them was inaccurate, but she knew she was playing to a fickle audience that responds positively to anything that sounds good, especially if it is punctuated with promises of goodies. No 18 and a half years in opposition for her. The people swept her back to power in a landslide. Free to campaign in poetry, she is now forced to govern in prose. And that isn't going so well. So, where is the Opposition? Fiddling!
I had formed the opinion that Mr Holness was the embodiment of what was new and desirably different. But for the past few months, I had started to wonder if the JLP was in exile and Mr Holness had read and supported Macbeth's view when the latter said:
If chance will have me king
why, chance may crown me,
without my stir.
The big question for me is why would it be so difficult for Audley - a respected senior in the party - to sell this eminently sensible idea to his colleagues. Did it require another round of divisive political bloodletting? For, believe me, committee notwithstanding, this is what it will be.
Sad as it may sound, it seems that in this period of great uncertainty for our country, the JLP continues to ignore the lessons of history and is, once again, sowing the seeds of its own destruction.
Glenn Tucker is an educator and sociologist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.