Erica Virtue Senior Gleaner Writer
THE FIVE-MEMBER committee which probed the reasons behind the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) loss in the2011 general election is reporting that Edward Seaga, the former party leader and mentor to current leader Andrew Holness, had warned that going to the polls before 2012 would be suicidal.
According to the report to be released to the leadership of the party this week by Holness, Seaga predicted that the party would lose the general election if it was called in 2011 and urged Holness to wait until 2012.
The report of the Independent Strategic Review Commission(ISRC) of January 2013, said Seaga's advice conflicted with thatof some of Holness most trusted lieutenants.
In the end, Holness made the call for a December 29 general election and the JLP lost 21-42 to the Peoples National Party (PNP).
According to the report seen by The Gleaner, the PNP was caught off guard by the blazing ascendancy of Holness, and one member of his inner circle advised that he should call the election sooner rather than later.
However, Seaga, who served 31years as JLP leader and two terms as prime minister, was reportedly dead set against a 2011 election.
Another inner circle, led by party elder Edward Seaga, thought the untested prime minister should wait. Not now, Mr Seaga told theISRC he had advised Holness.Wait until after the country's anticipated winning performance in the 2012 Olympics followed by expected hoopla and jubilation all running concurrently with the nations 50-year Independence celebrations, the report stated.
The fear of a loss appeared to have been even more widespread as the report said: Others in the party hierarchy feared moreover that holding an election anytime in the month of December would hurt the usual Christmas commerce, triggering a backlash which could result in low voter turnout.
But Mr Holness wanted his mandate and the sooner the better, the commissioners reported.
While the loss was attributable to a number of factors, some JLP supporters told the ISRC that chief among (the reasons for the defeat) was the issue of timing.
While December elections are not unheard of in Jamaica, Holness who called the election now has the distinction of being the only incumbent to have lost a December general election.
PJ WON IN DECEMBER
Retired former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, as PNP leader,won 50 of the 60 seats in the general election held December17, 1997.
Before him, late former Prime Minister Michael Manley increased his mandate in the December 15, 1976 general election and Seaga himself called snap elections for December 15,1983, which the PNP boycotted.
The ISRC said the timing of the election was viewed as a failure on the part of the JLP to defeat the PNP as in every successful venture, hard work is invaluable along with a number of other crucial and important factors, timing is one such factor.So crucial is timing that itcan be the sole determining factoras to whether a particular venture fails totally or reaps unrival led success.
Labourites felt that although there was euphoria from the new leader taking office, the timeframe to show the country what he was capable of doing was not enough, and calling the elections early had dire consequences.
In retrospect, the report said the leader ought to have waited until he had shown the country what he was able to do before he called the elections.
However, a crucial error in judgment was made when the JLP waited for the amended voters list before calling the elections.This was done knowing full well that they had not done as much work as their PNP counterparts in ensuring that their new eligible supporters were added to the list, said the report.