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JLP's lesson

Published:Saturday | May 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM


The Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) two recent defeats at the polls could yet prove to be a blessing in disguise, for it is as a result of those massive defeats that it became obvious to the leadership that something radical needed to be done.

When party leader Andrew Holness said that one of the aims of the task force is to recommend how to transform the party, he was showing that he knew precisely what the JLP needed to do.

What is regrettable, though, is that it took so long for the JLP to realise that the party's philosophy was not only alienating significant numbers of genuine sympathisers, but it was also becoming increasingly unattractive to the general electorate.

If it were hard to imagine how the People's National Party (PNP), which did such colossal damage to the economy in the 1970s, could come back and win an election so overwhelmingly in 1989, how much more difficult it must have been for that imagination to conceive of that party doing almost 19 consecutive years in office?

Winning factor

At the end of the PNP's rule in 2007, the economy recorded less than a one per cent average annual growth - a factor which led to the JLP's win nearly five years ago.

No proper analysis of the prospects of the JLP can be complete without taking note of the fact that between 1980 and 2011, a period spanning 31 years, the party has managed to win only two general elections.

The concept of transformation implies a complete overhaul. This revamp must extend itself to a rebranding of the party, and should have as a major component the inclusion of elements from other political parties. The significant impact of this wide inclusion will be the creation in the minds of the electorate that the JLP has moved away from a philosophy that was shaped by persons like Bustamante, Shearer and Seaga, and was not designed to empower the masses.