Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Mark Wignall | Is the PNP scared to win?

Published:Sunday | November 19, 2023 | 12:06 AM
Opposition Leader and People’s National Party President Mark Golding gestures to the crowd while making his way on to the stage at a party meeting held at the St Elizabeth Technical High School.
Opposition Leader and People’s National Party President Mark Golding gestures to the crowd while making his way on to the stage at a party meeting held at the St Elizabeth Technical High School.

If I speak to 30 people for the week who are highly political, about 18 are likely to give me sound reasons why the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will win, and 16 will definitely tell me that the party does not deserve to win. As for the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), oh that party? What particular question are you asking?

It seems that the PNP prefers to wait on the JLP administration to trip up and to occupy negative media space for about a week. During that time, some people are likely to believe that the PNP will climb and climb and cling to a new spot at the top of the polls. Yes, the climb happens, but the PNP has not quite mastered that art and strategy of living among the top branches.

Then the JLP trips up again, and the dance begins anew.

One man told me recently, “I feel for the PM. Based upon the advice he has gotten from the experts there have been a plethora of SOEs, there have been ZOSOs implemented, and there have been curfews. There have been numerous intelligence-driven security forces operations, there was created a joint (JCF, JDF) anti-gang task force.

“The JDF has been called out in its numbers and deployed all over Jamaica. The size of the JCF has increased (albeit modestly). The size of the JDF has increased (curiously more than the JCF), a lot of money has been spent on new police stations or upgrading existing ones and buying vehicles for the JCF and JDF.

“With all of that, the slaughter and crime goes on unabated. The JCF can tout a 12 per cent reduction in murders and reduction in other violent crimes. But who, except the wealthy (personal protection) and political elite who have protection, feels safe in Jamaica.


As much as I believe that the PNP, under the leadership of Mark Golding, approaches political power like a hot potato with bare hands, it seems to me that the prime minister has somewhat similar moments with navigating more power.

One reader used this as reason for his views that PM Andrew Holness has lost his enthusiasm for taking Jamaica that one extra mile. “Recently, the PM stated he did not have time to review the IC’s response/concerns about his declarations. That stumped me. We are all busy. But the prime minister’s excuse was lame. There is something else regarding the declarations, not a lack of time, that has the PM concerned. Or is he just worn out?”

In trying to push a Labourite friend of mine to adopt the viewpoint that PM Holness is in the midst of a new strategy push towards the next elections, as he comfortably was at the end of 2020, he said, “Listen. Andrew Holness is my prime minister, but I am not comfortable with him asking (more like begging) the Jamaican people to continue to stick with the JLP and give the JLP more time via upcoming elections as the foundation is being laid for prosperity.

“Let us examine the background behind that. The people of Jamaica are poor, hungry in many cases, lack decent good-paying jobs, decent medical care, proper education for their children, and live in fear of rampaging gunmen. What tangible results have been achieved for them? Time is not infinite for the hungry, poor, and downtrodden. A prime minister must deliver. But it cannot only be in words. It must be in tangible results. Being PM of Jamaica is a hard job. We know that because we know that wi nuh easy.

“With that in mind, I think the PM is worn out. He has absorbed one too many body blows and he wants to leave the ring. But I suspect there is much below the surface I do not know, and his colleagues certainly do not want to leave the privileges and pleasures of power.”


Towards the end of the turbulent 1970s when many in the hard left of the PNP had aligned themselves with Fidel Castro’s embrace of Moscow-style communism without really knowing what good it could do for the Jamaican people, many of the soft-leftists could not wait on Seaga to seize his own bite of democracy in October 1980.

In reality, many of the activists in the PNP wanted to be less active, and in truth, they wanted a long rest after chasing at a socialist nirvana that they neither understood nor desired. The ideological divide hardly exists now.

Speak to the man and woman at street level, and they will tell you that the only difference between JLP and PNP is that one party has power, and the other party wants to take away that power.

From the people’s standpoint, it comes down to which party can best use government power for the people’s benefit. The PNP has no sweet ideological promise of democratic socialism. Seaga’s promise of ‘making money jingle in yu pocket’ tells you more about monetary policy than it does about political promise.

All of the ideological buzzwords are now taken. Capitalism has buried them all. And at this time, the PNP, with raw capitalists as its captains, now finds that for its own survival, it may have to occupy a new position to the left of the JLP.

At which time the JLP will have to patiently wait on the people to give a catchy name to that new direction.

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