Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Mark Wignall |A political theatre that unfolded

Published:Saturday | September 25, 2021 | 12:08 AM

Joseph Patterson, president of the United Independent Congress (UIC), speaks to protesters who marched from St William Grant Park near Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday, September 22.
Joseph Patterson, president of the United Independent Congress (UIC), speaks to protesters who marched from St William Grant Park near Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday, September 22.

Jamaica’s newest political party, the United Independent Congress (UIC), and its leader, Joseph Patterson, made an attempt last week to leave the maternity ward. Alas, the exit door was chained and locked. So Mr Patterson thumbed his nose at...

Jamaica’s newest political party, the United Independent Congress (UIC), and its leader, Joseph Patterson, made an attempt last week to leave the maternity ward. Alas, the exit door was chained and locked.

So Mr Patterson thumbed his nose at authority and breached two acts. Public Order and Disaster Risk Management. He had about 100 people with him. Many were searching for themselves and trying to find something noble in their mass confusion over vaccines and the public good.

He says that the party is not against vaccines. But he stands firm against lockdowns and believe that people should make the choice about their own medication. “We’re not against vaccines. In fact, all we are against is the Government’s attempts to manipulate, force and use fearmongering to get Jamaicans to do something they might not want to do.”

But, not surprisingly, Mr Patterson is politically delusional like all new politicians trying to push their popularity cart before the reality horse. In speaking about his party’s series of protests he says, “…by the time we’re finished we’re going to be … 500,000 strong.”

The People’s National Party (PNP) at 83 years old is at the beginning of what could likely be an extended period of its dotage. One little split-odd led by the fiery Karen Cross found the party gate chained and locked when she visited in strident protest against the leadership of Mark Golding last Thursday. At this time it seems as if the little bits and pieces of the PNP are not sufficiently supported to attain faction status.

Whether the Cross split-away believes that making noise outside the opposition leader’s office is good politics or just simply effective in drawing public attention to the woes that are of concern for her, time will bear her out.

For now, Mark Golding remains president of the PNP and opposition leader. And like in Peter Phillips’ time, it goes on and the nation yawns.

MARK GOLDING IS PETER PHILLIPS 2.0

Long before the PNP went down to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in September of 2020, I had been consistently commenting on Phillips’ inability to connect as leader. It was absolutely no fault of his own. Some people have it, some don’t, but the reasoning in many factions of the PNP was, Phillips had mastered just about every area of party management and government, therefore, let’s offer him a shot at leadership again.

Based on recent poll findings, Mark Golding has not learned anything from the not-so-recent past, not the least of which is, don’t be a Peter Phillips. In fairness to the 83-year-old PNP, Andrew Holness is at the water’s edge hauling in fish after fish while Mark Golding cannot even drag in an old shoe.

The real danger facing the PNP right now is that, as the polls indicate, the electorate is still in the mode of forgiving Andrew Holness and his JLP of just about all political ills, while nothing of substance is attaching itself to the PNP even as a gesture borne of sympathy.

The electorate has shrunken and will continue to shrink until a new generation of impatient thinkers finds root in the general population and in the political parties.

FACING OFF WITH DANGEROUS CRIMINALS

It could have been over a decade ago when I wrote about the extortion racket and the transportation hub in the region of Spanish Town. I estimated it to be in the region of 9 million per week. Whether I was right or badly off target is not the issue.

Intelligence departments in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) would have done their modellings and could not be far off the $100,000 one member of the Klansman gang has said he collected on a daily basis. That level of money can buy influence and power and automatic rifles.

It can buy rogue cops and it can force good cops to remain silent just so that they can go home in the evening to their family. Just so that they can have some minimum level of certainty in their lives. And it can get entire communities to bend to the will of these armed and dangerous men.

About two weeks ago on a no-movement day, I drove into an inner-city pocket to see how people in these areas were dealing with it. I was about 150 metres up from the main road. The road had about five ‘sleeping policemen’ and it required me to slow to a crawl to navigate them. Three people had on masks, including me.

At the top of the lane it forked off into two narrow tracks where only a skilled driver could safely manipulate through. While in conversation we saw a police car coming up the lane. As it reached and slowed just for the briefest of moments the policeman driving had one hand on the steering wheel while his right hand was resting on the window with a 9mm in it.

He smiled briefly and then drove in a crawl up one fork of the road. “Him nah tek nuh chance,” said one of the young men.

I agreed with him. It occurred to me that such a man forced to examine all aspects of his life and keeping it viable would have to give up a little bit of his sanity each day of his life as he lives on that dangerous edge of existence.

I am asked many times by young people to give them advice on relationships. Many weeks ago, one young lady told me about this young policeman. She was madly in love with him but, according to her, he had too many girls.

“Leave him alone or deal with him on his own terms,” I said.

“What?’ she replied.

She told me about his dangerous duties and his drinking. “Your eyes full up with love for him now, but I am not so sure you will be able to face the future together in peace and harmony. I don’t think you understand the level of stress in the job. Just my view.”

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.