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Mark Wignall | The JLP is in delicate territory

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Last Tuesday morning when my cell phone rang and I saw the ID of the person calling me, I knew that the call would be of political importance. When I said, “Hello Comrade,” what I did not expect was him shouting at me.

‘Yu si di numbers, yu si dem. In excess of 60 per cent of the people are saying Peter Phillips is the worst person to talk on national matters.” Then he used some Jamaican words that exist between pepper and vinegar to describe Phillips continuing in his role.

The People’s National Party (PNP) MP had long been open about his opposition to Phillips continuing in his role, and as he more than implied, as long as he remains there he will cause many hard-working PNP MPs to lose their seats. The thing is, the polls which have been published are becoming consistent in how positive ratings of Peter Phillips have disappeared from the political table.

His voice calmed for a while, and then he said, “The truth is, if every single PNP MP was doing good work in their constituency, and I will be the first to admit that good work is rare, based on the poor ratings of Phillips nationally, we are going to be !!!!@!”

I asked him, “What do you mean?”

“Those national numbers come from constituency numbers adding up. I can feel it as I move around my constituency. The energy is pure pretense.”

I was told less than two months ago that the PNP launched a bus tour for the specific purpose of ginning up support for the PNP, which was likely to show up in a poll. At that time, I was told who the main principals were in that exercise and the extent to which they had all signed on to the ultimate objective: that of boosting the PNP at a time when many people were turning away from it.

Now I was on the phone with the same individual who had told me about the tour. “Just in case you don’t remember, it was I who told you of the tour and what they were trying to attain. Now, Mark, when yu see these polls and we PNP MPs see them, we know that this bus tour was totally wasted.

“Peter Phillips cannot continue to hold us back. He is one man, only one man. How dare he believe that his personal political future must be elevated and ours must be like waiters serving him while he is barely awake!”

Holness on a tightrope

Mr Holness, be very careful. After the passage of Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988 had made Jamaica into a national disaster zone, it was left up to Eddie Seaga, then the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader and prime minister to lead the rescue operation.

There was no Internet, no social media, and worse, there was no electrical power islandwide. I watched Seaga, in tandem with his political friends in Washington and a Florida-based power supplier present light to areas of the country where many people thought were impossible fixes.

At this time, there are a number of key items pulsing in the brains of Andrew Holness, our prime minister. First is that he wants to win the next elections. Second is that he knows the awesome responsibility placed on him with COVID-19.

Third, he knows that under regular circumstances where no disease was looming, in the next general elections, he would take the PNP and its leader, Peter Phillips to the cleaners. But, now, tomorrow and in the next few weeks, and months, some complexities may enter that would otherwise be a simple equation.

“Should there be an outbreak of COVID-19 here,” said my doctor friend, “election is cancelled. There is no way that the PM could perpetrate such an act of encouraging large numbers of people to gather in crowds. To call an election if even five or 10 people are affected by COVID-19 would be an impossibility. He would be condemned internationally.”

I can easily see elections being called off this year just as I can figure that the Olympics in Japan is likely to face suspension to a later date. Simple deduction.

For that reason, it suits the PM and the Health Ministry and the Tourism Ministry to pull out all stops to keep COVID-19 out of the country. In this way, the JLP administration may have its best motivator in effectively dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Those looming elections.

Oh, just a few more murders

I got the call at at about 7:15 p.m. on Monday. A youngster I knew had been shot and killed in what appeared to be a hit job.

He was taken out by at least three men as he sat on a bar stool talking with female company. None of the women were wounded. Physically.

Over the last year or so, I had seen the young man at the bar exactly opposite the one where he died. We didn’t speak much, but he had a habit of asking other youngsters to listen to some of the most crazy pointers I gave about facing life.

On the Tuesday, I went to the scene of the shooting. The bar was shut, but the outside floor indicated where the young man died as his blood flowed out – A sickly glazed new surface of blood on the cold tiles.

The shocker is that these killings are no longer moving us. With the barbarians at the gates, in our response, we have decided to adopt the ways of the beasts and toughen our hearts in how we hide our humanity.

And at that point, we will have given ourselves over to defeatism. We need to rise up and be annoyed, rise up and be angry, rise up and be disappointed at the “great work” we made.

Increasingly, good people are more concerned, but sadly, for the maintenance of their sanity, they have begun to pretend that it is all a fantasy, and the next morning we wake up, the murders will disappear.

Won’t happen.