Mon | Dec 11, 2023

Prime minister’s messages are spot on

Published:Saturday | November 18, 2023 | 12:06 AM


I am writing with reference to an article published on November 14 with the headline ‘Wrong message’, referring to Prime Minister Holness’ speech at a meeting in St Ann on the weekend. The headline clearly grabbed my attention enough to get me to read the body of the front-page story. None of the quotes in the article suggested that the prime minister was sending a wrong message to his audience, neither could I conclude that the prime minister was begging or pleading with the electorate not to turn against his Government.

I took the time to listen to the prime minister’s entire speech, which was rebroadcasted, and concluded that the speech was quite uplifting and addressed the concerns of the local audience, with updates on roads and highways, housing, and market developments.

This is not the first time that narrative has been carried that Holness is begging and pleading with the electorate. In April, The Gleaner carried a similar headline that ‘Holness begs electorate not to abandon the JLP’. Similarly, the selected quotes in the body of that article did not support the headline. Nevertheless, I respect the right and licence of newspapers to their opinion and interpretation of the statements and actions of public figures. However, my perspective is that the prime minister struck a very humble, conciliatory and reassuring tone.

No-one can deny that the post-pandemic period has had a negative impact on the support for the JLP, in deed for almost all incumbent governments around the world. One only has to look at the fortunes of Jacinda Ardern, former PM of New Zealand, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. I believe it is entirely appropriate for any leader to acknowledge the difficult circumstances their people are experiencing and the hopelessness it creates in their outlook and mood.

It is important that while the government announces all the grand measures and programmes it is implementing to address the post COVID-19 cost of living crisis, it also takes the time to encourage the people to keep faith with the government efforts, particularly when there is a lag between the time recovery measures are implemented and the point where benefits of the recovery are actually felt by the people. This is being portrayed as weak and in desperate panic, descriptions which do not square with the deliberate and strategic nature of the prime minister we have come to know.

Listening to his speech, I found it quite refreshing, uplifting and forward-looking. It was almost pastoral, with a call to maintain hope and adopt an optimistic outlook. That is the right message to send.