Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Daniel Thwaites | Saddle to the East!

Published:Sunday | March 31, 2019 | 12:00 AM

This East Portland by-election is a hot race between Daryl and Damion. Owing to the constitutional prohibition against one man standing for election in more than one parliamentary seat at a time, Daryl isn’t permitted to put his name on the ballot.

Hence he has elected to put the most natural stand-in for him on it, his pretty and charming wife. But make no mistake about it: Damion Crawford is running against Daryl Vaz.

There are, apparently, some who feel making this observation is ‘sexist’. But that only adds to the general satisfaction in pointing out the obvious. For one must flout that sort of nonsense, which is, after all, merely an attempt to shut people up by bawling out some ‘ism’.

You can be assured that if a female political heavyweight were to run her husband in an adjoining constituency, it would be fun and games galore. Imagine if Portia had put up Errald to run next to her in St Andrew. People would have had riotous amusements pointing out that it was Ms P extending her influence and domain through an agent.

So if anything is ‘sexist’, it’s the idea that women are immune to criticisms that would be levelled against a man in precisely the same situation.

Incidentally, nobody can convince me that I shouldn’t persist in liking both Daryl and Damion. The excessive bitterness in these campaigns too often function to cut off the mental and emotional space where we can like and admire people who think like us, politically speaking. It’s a nonsense to be resisted.

That said, the excessive bitterness was almost predictable when so much rides on the outcome.

THAT 53 PER CENT

The recently published polls will have to be redone when this by-election is complete, because its outcome will inevitably have a sizeable impact. The parties have published duelling polls about East Portland, each claiming to be in the lead.

Nationally, the most arresting figure was the 53 per cent of respondents who are ‘undecided’. Mr Holness’ magnificent public-relations team needs to watch that number carefully, particularly if these ongoing scandals persist. That big number can turn things wonky in a heartbeat, and shouldn’t be so large for a Government bathing in massive NHT funds-transfers and reaping the rewards of previous fiscal discipline.

Another number that leaped out was that Dr Phillips’ massive ‘unfavourability’ rating last year (at 60 per cent), which would concern any politician, is now at 51 per cent. He will have to continue showcasing his new vice-presidents and his new candidates to the electorate to deepen and continue that trend.

I say this all to acknowledge how crucial this East Portland contest has turned out to be for both sides. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say they’re both depending on it.

But back to my main topic: When I see Daryl again, I will ask him privately what I’m here asking publicly: “why yuh bring yuh nice and decent wife inna dis mixup and blen’ blen’?”

And please note, that after the bucketloads of condemnations and even tears because Damion had the temerity to notice that his official opponent’s major title is ‘Mrs Vaz’, a recording of Daryl lecturing some East Portlanders has confirmed that ‘Haction-Hann’s’ candidacy is really to satisfy the constitutional technicality barring the real candidate:

“If mi get MY WIFE inna Parliament and wi have two MP, plus wi inna guvahment, then yuh gwine see Portland … Because mi can’t stay ah West and spend West money ah East … cause yuh know seh dem waan lock mi up long time … soh mi can’t tek dem chance deh …”.

That wasn’t all. He continued:

“Mi can tell yuh inna dis yah election, because MY WIFE involved inna it … soh mi nah talk ‘bout Party … mi ah talk ‘bout MI WIFE! And if you can’t give MY WIFE a chance after weh mi an yuh ah come from, then … when mi see yuh mi see yuh … If me ah help you put food pon table and send yuh pickney goh ah school, and you can’t support ME when de time come, den yuh know me a look a new man fi talk to … Mi nah threaten … mi just a tell yuh how it goh!”

People have unfairly pointed to this speech as ‘a threat’. That’s not quite right. I don’t see any threat in telling a man that you will lock off his food and school fees. LOL. Aftah yuh neva owe him de first place.

Seriously, though, Daryl is honestly telling them that since he scratches their back they must scratch his. That is basic politics, and something even a friend might say to another without thereby causing upset.

The point, though, is that it’s HIS back. Haction-Hann is notable in that soliloquy only for inaction and absence, except, of course, as Daryl’s wife. In fact, I suspect that if our laws permitted polygamy, Daryl could very well extend into neighbouring parishes, if not into all 13.

THE ‘GO-TO’ MAN

Who is to say that isn’t why Munga Honourable wasn’t trying to establish – in front of Haction-Hann, no less – whether Daryl is ‘a gyallis’ who has ever got action on the first date. There had to be some point to that otherwise senseless and inappropriate crudity.

Right now, to paraphrase the philosopher Bounty Killer (Caught up in the West), “Daryl tun him saddle to the East; the mission inna de West, it already complete!” And to be sure, should he become the member of parliament for the whole parish, it would be a significant and historical milestone in Jamaican politics.

I have always admired Daryl, and I feel that he would be much further up the Labour Party’s slippery pole had he not (undeservedly, in my view) suffered some of the worse calumny and defamation in the history of Jamaican politics. And there is no shortage of calumny and defamation in our politics … soh yuh mus’ know!

So I have a theory about why the occupation of the whole parish is being attempted. There are plants and trees that, if restricted from growing up vertically, simply spread horizontally.

Daryl has, for a long time now, been the ‘go-to’ man, known for action, in the Labour Party. It is no surprise that the moniker ‘Action-Ann’ that has been attached to his wife was even borrowed from him. That is how I understand this desire to become MP for ALL of Portland. It reflects a constipation in his deserved upward mobility in the Labour Party.

All things considered, I think it would have been better to concentrate on fixing that one.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.