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Letter of the Day | Despite maturing electorate, diehards remind of doom

Published:Monday | July 31, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The recent selection of the standard-bearer to replace Portia Simpson Miller in her former constituency, South West St Andrew, has highlighted that Jamaica still has some way to go in correcting the wrongs in our political system. The intense battle between Angela Brown Burke and Audrey Smith-Facey ended with Portia's choice getting the nod by the people in the person of Brown Burke. There are many issues emanating from this contest.

It is obvious that there is great discord within the People's National Party (PNP). Peter Phillips has limited power and is a mere figurehead for the time being, somewhat keeping the president's seat warm until the new leader is ready to take over, in the person of either Peter Bunting or Phillip Paulwell.

Portia Simpson Miller did a horrible job at succession planning in her constituency, as she did in the party as president. It's as if she never intended to exit at some point.

The major issue at play in this entire process, however, is the stance of the people: 'Anything Portia seh, a dat we seh!' This is the intellectually bankrupt culture in politics with which Jamaica has been grappling for years. The electorate is owned by some politicians and do not have their own will to make decisions.

One can easily say that had Mrs Simpson Miller not intervened in the process, Mrs Smith-Facey would have been the standard-bearer for South West St Andrew. Jamaican politics has been crafted to have the electorate feel guilty if they voted based on their own inclinations; they are coerced into voting based on an individual, not based on merit or work done. In recent times, I have been encouraged by the strides made by the voting population, as it has shown some will to not be controlled, to no longer vote because 'my family voted a particular way', to not vote based on personality but on deliverables and plans.

When situations arise, however, as it did in South West St Andrew where a politician can present anybody to the people and the people don't even think twice about accepting this person, it shows we have a lot of work to do to change this backward mindset. When a constituency cannot look at its circumstances and make a rational decision about the future in terms of developmental plans and life-changing representation, it says a lot about the people and the mentality that have created.

Team Renewal within the PNP needs to revisit what exactly it is trying to renew, as the party shows little to no interest in changing.

Jamaica belongs to no political party, and Jamaicans should not be owned by any politician or any party. The days of being diehard PNP or JLP need to come to an end.