Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Will PM review her leadership?

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

No man likes it when his date shows up late, or, worse, doesn't turn up at all. Insult is added to injury, especially when the excuse is so pathetic that is plainly untrue.

"My grandmother died just as I was getting to leave," would suffice if the dear old lady had not been at perpetual peace for the last five years. The tendency, when the date does show the next time, is bravado used to cover up the joy of finally getting to be with her.

"Don't feel like going anywhere. Frankly, I am just not all that interested anymore."

The PNP promised us a date, and more than a few of us were prepared for it. The hair was carefully prepped, a new outfit was bought, and expensive perfume was applied before the eager wait became a futile one for an uncertain outcome.

Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips may not have stolen the prime minister's thunder when he became first, the voice, then the face, of the early election sabre-rattling, but he led the narrative, one assumes, on behalf of his boss, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. What was the lady to do after that if she wanted to give the nation the impression that she was indeed the boss?

During the Outameni scandal when NHT Chairman Easton Douglas was under pressure by civil society and the 'voices of reason' across many sectors of Jamaica to resign or be fired, before the PM could even issue an initial statement, Mr Douglas came out firing and said he had no intention of going anywhere.

The narrative was taken away from the prime minister and it made her authority look as if she had no say in calling the shots. So, there is precedent for those who sit and occupy positions at her own pleasure to act as if they are the ones defining the extent of her authority.

To make matters considerably worse, the general secretary of the PNP, Paul Burke, has been a disaster. Under his watch, various constituencies have broken out into near violent intra-party clashes, and it has made him seem like an inept fireman arriving the day after the house was burnt to the ground.

With all of that, it was obvious to most political watchers that the PNP was not settled on a cohesive agenda on the election timetable. Internal party canvasses and independent electoral soundings were indicating, from mid-year to September, that an October or early November elections would be close, but would favour the PNP eking out a victory and placing the Opposition JLP into another political hibernation.

In short time, much has happened, and neither the PNP gen sec, nor any PNP top-tier leader, has quite figured out the real reasons for the slippage between that period to now. Quite apart from the apathy among the electorate, many were looking for an issue to pounce on because, underneath the apathy, there was a silent, burning need to express anger at something, anything. Cameron's prison offer, along with the dead babies scandal, happened, yes, but many people did not quite figure out what brought about the changes in such quick time.

It was almost a political truism that political electoral trends do not change overnight, and big issues tended to take months to percolate into the wider society. That was then.


Social media effect


The operative term is now, social media and people are getting information in real time, and the info is being assimilated and judged in real time, hence, the PNP's slippage from grace from September to the present time.

I am getting the sense that the prime minister is growing a bit weary and it is taking too much out of her to grasp at, and attach to herself, even 10 per cent of the huge political capital she enjoyed just five years ago.

As party leader, she cannot lay the responsibility at the feet of her gen sec or anyone else. Another possibility could be that our dear prime minister has never fully come to grips with oscillating between PM and party leader.

Whether the narrative was taken out of her hands or not, she promised us a date, we cooked dinner, bought wine and had soft, soothing music coming through the speakers.

Now that the lady has cancelled, not many of us are buying into the reasons given. Prime minister, this may be the time to sit down in front of a mirror and ask yourself some tough questions.

- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and observemark@gmail.com.