Mark Wignall | The mood favours multiple terms
“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government then you are doomed to live under the rules of fools,” Plato. According to recent polls, Jamaicans from all the socio-economic parts making up our society have hopped off the...
“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government then you are doomed to live under the rules of fools,” Plato.
According to recent polls, Jamaicans from all the socio-economic parts making up our society have hopped off the political wagon. “That’s a faulty analysis,” said Pearnel Charles Sr when we spoke by phone one day last week. “It is not the politics that people care more or less about. It is governance. Then he used as an example the traumatic electoral season of the 1980 political campaign and the national fear that it generated.
“When people saw the massive failures of the PNP [People’s National Party] government in the period 1976 to 1980, nearly 90 per cent of the electorate tuned up to turn it away. Apart from the time in the 1990s when Seaga’s leadership encumbrance made PNP victories over 18 and a half years almost a guarantee, the present times also favour multiple terms. But with a twist.”
According to the veteran politicia, the electorate sees little difference between the governmental menus on the plates of the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). “So are you saying that at this time, considerations of governmental quality are not that crucial to dislodge the JLP?” I asked.
“Yes, first past the post in this scenario favours who is there now,” he said.”In other words, although a troubling majority of voting-age adults are not interested in voting, they have also seen nothing which the JLP has mucked up that they believe the opposition PNP can fix.”
In my regular sojourns through and into economically depressed and politically hard-wired communities, many younger folk tell me they have absolutely no interest in politics when I slowly ease into asking questions. My standard response is to say, “Well, whether you like it or not, politics is into you.”
My friend Pearnel Sr may be on to something. According to another friend, this time a psychologist, “I have observed Prime Minister Holness. Increasingly, in many of his pronouncements, he terms his language in a way that indicates that he has seen the time ahead, the time needed to accomplish his governmental plans. Or, at the very least, the more important ones. He does not sound like a man whose thought processes includes losing at the polls in the near term.”
NO PROBLEM IN NEW LEADERSHIP
Although we did not talk about it during our phone conversation, it was no secret that while Pearnel Charles Sr was a key member of Seaga’s Cabinet in the 1980s, one part of the often-strained relationship he had with Seaga began when polls showed him as more popular than Seaga.
At the present time one doesn’t need to launch a poll question to know that Holness is more popular than any one making up the ranks of the JLP second-tier leadership. Although Health Minister Chris Tufton is seen as the key man after Holness to deserve leadership and Finance Minister Nigel Clarke in the running, I sense that Clarke is the much more ambitious person. Especially if a vacancy arises and it becomes open season to create uncomfortable political distance between colleagues.
An essential part of political leadership, especially in the process of attaining such leadership, is knowing how much and at what stage one should deploy ruthlessness, a most crucial part in the practice and pursuit of leadership. I think that Clarke would eat Tufton alive.
DITCHING THE MONARCHY
Many years ago, two of our national heroes were offered British knighthoods. With it you get to call yourself ‘Sir.’ More importantly, others must also call you Sir this and that.
Bustamante, a man who adored the monarchy and conservative Western values, readily accepted and was thereafter addressed as Sir Alexander. The other national hero, a much more politically principled man, Norman Manley turned down the knighthood. He was as he had been before. Just Mr Manley.
The JLP is a far cry from the days of Bustamante and all the way to Andrew Holness. The late Michael Manley said ( Truth be Told by Glynne Manley-2019) “I have often said and believe … that (Garvey) was the most singularly significant of all our National Heroes).
“Glynne Manley: Let’s move on to another controversial figure. What was the relationship between your father and Busta?
“Michael: Let’s start with what is not true. It is not true that they were friends. That is not true. That is an illusion … .”
I do not sense that the present set of leaders in politics hold any special animus towards each other. Mark Golding has his caucus and he knows that there will be peace in the ranks as long as there is nothing the PNP can identify as a battle to be won. So he has no stresses coming from the other side of the fence.
Both political leaders are signed off on ditching the monarchy. The greatest political pain for the PNP is that when the celebratory bells are tolling it will occupy more audience space than participant. If I wanted to be unkind to the PNP I could say that it would be along that continuum where Phillips failed to occupy Jamaica House when he was deserving of it.
SINGAPORE OF THE CARIBBEAN, REALLY?
Prime minister Holness has become the consummate politician who knows the labels and the words and the timing. And how to make them come all together especially because he knows the political values of half-truths.
Our politicians on both sides are feeling the warmth of the political summer of nationalism, or at least, claiming more of our own efforts than before. Prime Minister Holness has the luxury of seeing a Caribbean Singapore in our future.
One part of that easily allows him to disregard the necessary self-repair that a society has to embark on before the politicians sense that a set of people, a nation, are ready for development in all areas.
Mr Holness, I applaud you but I still haven’t seen where our people are ready to stand with the political leadership as they tow the vehicle to the shop for a massive overhaul.