Orville Taylor | PNP’s golden opportunity
Whatever might be your political orientation, a strong People’s National Party (PNP) is indispensable for the preservation of our democracy. At a minimum, it gives legitimacy to the government as representing the will of the people at a time when there is a credible alternative.
In the absence of a sensible opposition, the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is potentially seen as a government by default.
This is not different from when American Sha’Carri Richardson beat Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Elaine Thompson Herah, knowing fully well that they are recovering from injury.
Today and for the next few years, until a general election is called, the PNP, under its leader Mark Golding, has a hill to climb. Indeed, it might very well be a mountain.
A sobering thought for the party has to be that inasmuch as the Don Anderson polls have indicated a shift away from the JLP, the lead is almost statistically insignificant. Second and most important, there is historical evidence of that very same party having the popular vote, yet getting whipped in the 1949 general election. True, constituencies are won by individual candidates. However, voters on the whole, especially where the polling divisions are not garrisons, vote based on how they feel about the party leader.
Try as you may, this is indeed a golden moment just as it is a Golding opportunity, to do two things that no one since P.J. Patterson has been able to do. First, he must unite his party firmly behind him.
Given the nonsense taking place in the west, where two properly elected PNP supported councillors purportedly shifted to independent status, then showing their true colours crossed over, giving the PNP electors’ votes to the JLP, Golding still has a lot of work to do.
Second, as stated in several columns over the years, Jamaican elections typically are won or lost on the back of the working class; not the unemployed poor.
This is a country where people simply want to ‘rerk’ and be able to fulfil their household needs, while being treated fairly and respectfully at work. This concept is so simple, it could very well be a politician.
LOT OF FODDER
Comrades can campaign about any popular debating point they wish. The JLP has given a lot of fodder for the PNP to feed on.
Still, the single question that the PNP has to answer to itself first of all, then to its committed and then to the nation on the whole, is simply this. Why should anyone, apart from a devoted comrade, vote for this version of the PNP today?
At present, there is still a high level of voter apathy, because despite the loss in popularity of the JLP, the PNP, in absolute terms with a large number of voters either undecided or nonchalant, does not have the majority of would-be voters. Let that sink in like a deep suntan.
And while we are on the subject of pigmentation, let us put to rest the race debate regarding the comrade leader.
Whatever the reason might be why Sir John gave his son Mark the middle name Jefferson, there is no greater indicator of a person’s view on race than whom he sleeps beside and lives with 24/7, rather than those with whom he knocks glasses, bottles or fists. Mark Golding has a black wife and black children. And from my information they were naturally conceived, carry his DNA. He is no American president Thomas Jefferson, who fathered multiple children with his enslaved African Sally Hemmings and never admitted it. Interestingly, many of the detractors, including members of his own party, who are still upset about his ‘Rise’ to the leadership, would never date someone as African as Mrs Golding.
Notwithstanding the fact that Golding’s racial origin or appearance is of no consequence to him and that he clearly is no racist, being a politician, who is trying to win an election, he must find a way to speak to those who are not orange-blooded.
Just as my Indian or Hispanic friends cannot use the N word, he cannot be associated with any type of gesture which plays on our painful plantation and racist history. People who looked like him gave the ancestors of his electors the living hell. It is too recent.
For that reason, I have publicly chided Finance Minister Nigel Clarke for his unrepentant stance that the word ‘Massa’ could be anything, but offensive and tinged with race baiting, inasmuch as it might have been innocent.
Golding and the PNP cannot be upset with the Massa label but comfortable with any use of slavery motifs in his presence.
Moreover, unlike some other light-skinned Jamaicans, especially from central and southern parishes, who use expressions like ‘succomes’, ‘wha fi enda’, and ‘wussalackahow’ in their regular speech, Mark is not a natural Patois speaker. And he doesn’t have to try to be roots or black.
He just has to show the public that he is capable and has lucid ideas as to how we can keep the country on the positive path started by Peter Phillips and obviously continued by this administration.
His strength is not his comedy or even him being ‘dung to earth’. He is no Michael Manley and certainly not a Patterson and absolutely not Sister P.
Golding is a brilliant lawyer and a man who knows how to make good financial decisions.
Given the loose speeches, the uncorroborated outbursts and now the dissenting factions who are crossing aisles, Golding has no time for tomfoolery and corny gimmicks on stage.
He, like a man who is asking his estranged lover to come back home, must do better than tell her that her current man is no good.
Let’s see if those who are on the marks are set to go.
Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.