Sunday Brew — April 14, 2019

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 14, 2019

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Juliet Holness – the new power behind JLP campaigns

THE arguments will continue into the next general election, due in under two years' time, as to what went wrong for the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) to lose the ninth 'safest' seat, and what went right for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party in Portland recently.

My prediction had Damion Crawford winning for the PNP in the just-ended Portland Eastern by-election. He didn't. I also gave an undertaking that should Mrs Ann-Marie Vaz score what, in my estimation, would amount to an upset win, I would acknowledge the result in the manner in which it ought to be — a brilliant performance by someone and her team who, despite the name-calling and other distractions, came home in fine style.

But that team, which included Mrs Vaz's husband Daryl, a giant of a campaigner, also had one Juliet Holness, who happens to be the wife of Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew, and sitting member in the House of Representatives for the people of St Andrew East Rural.

Juliet Holness is tough, suave, brilliant, and assertive. She is Jamaica's queen of election campaigning and the best thing that the JLP has going for that organisation, by way of strategy and approach, to tackling the rough business that comes with electioneering.

She was deeply active in St Mary South Eastern during the by-election of 2017, which was won by the JLP's Dr Norman Dunn over the PNP's Dr Shane Alexis.

She went into staunch PNP areas, among them Enfield, and turned the numbers around. She did likewise in sections of Portland Eastern, to which the PNP could not answer.

Watch out for more strategic moves from this woman. For one with such an approach to getting things done, I'm a little surprised that her husband has not yet put her into his Cabinet to replace a few of the strollers; Andrew may be concerned about what people will say about him putting his wife forward. But he wouldn't be pushing her; she is naturally qualified. It's more of an issue getting the right people into key positions.

Juliet Holness will not be kept away from the frontline for long. Based upon how she has been getting certain jobs done, it would be a disservice to keep her away from Cabinet duty.

By the way, the PNP's Joan Gordon Webley, once a Labour MP, may yet want to rethink her position of running against Juliet Holness in St Andrew East Rural. There is still time, but not much.

How does the PNP go forward now?

WELL, it appears that the PNP will be hanging onto the coat tails of party President Dr Peter Phillips, and General Secretary Julian Robinson for some time to come.

Is anyone surprised? That's how the PNP has operated over the years — some people who should move on because the results that they are charged to deliver are not forthcoming, end up staying on and choking the party.

The good thing that emerged from the recent by-election in Portland Eastern is that Damion Crawford has decided to continue to serve the people of the constituency, despite his loss to Ann-Marie Vaz.

That's how it should be. You can't get almost 10,000 votes and then turn around and tell the people that you no longer want to see their faces. But back to the broader picture at hand.

The PNP obviously does not realise that there has been a paradigm shift in terms of how people view politics in general, and the party in particular. What does the PNP stand for? No one knows. What is the party's ideological position?

Is it pushing democratic socialism, or democratic centralism as introduced by Janos Kadar in the latter stage of his rule in Hungary between 1956 and 1988?

Whereby the State plays a huge role in controlling the means of production, distribution, exchange etc, but there is adequate private sector representation in industry?

Or is it right of centre — a more capitalist approach to things whereby the State completely stays out of managing certain enterprises? That needs to be clarified and stated.

It would be interesting to see now how close the PNP is to the JLP in terms of their ideology. And if both are saying the same thing, then it makes things easier for the electorate. As the older political party represented in Jamaica's Parliament, the PNP has not moved with the kind of alacrity that is needed for fundamental change.

Instead, some of its leaders get petty when they are criticised, especially by their own, and many do not stop to think that criticism can be good for their health. I see former General Secretary Paul Burke speaking openly last week about the party that he has served for over 50 years, and getting slapped all over the body for it. Shouldn't be so.

The PNP may be in shambles and needs to look deep into itself with a view to effecting the necessary repairs.

Every day you hear about vote-buying, yet the party distances itself from a practice that it, too, has indulged in, although its members may call it something else.

The funny thing is, had the party spent the money that it got in contributions for the February 2016 General Election, it would have been in power today. Burke, I believe, knows some of those who got contributions and did not turn them over.

But I'm sure he won't tell on some of the same people who are now calling for him to be strung up.

Lock up those bikers who don't wear helmets

LAST week I was driving along Cassia Park Road, heading to Waltham Park Road in St Andrew, when I mistook a motorbike for an out-of-control aircraft that was heading towards my vehicle like a torpedo. What the heck! What's going on here?

It turns out that this biker was riding up ... (some say driving, but I'm used to riding bikes) and two of his friends who were ahead of him decided to move to the beat of Early B's 80s hit song One Wheel Wheelie (One wheel wheely, mek me wheely one wheel).

All three were without helmets. The first two pushed off on their bikes and successfully accomplished their mission of raising the front wheel toward the sky without a fuss.

But the third fellow either left his mental notes about balancing at home, or was influenced by something that almost cost him his life. How do you react when you see a bike coming towards you, fast like lighting, then suddenly going airborne, getting out of control and landing on the asphalt, skating towards your vehicle? Luckily for him, I wasn't driving fast... I never do these days, not with so many lunatic taxi and minibus drivers on the road.

The biker's unconscious attempt at using my vehicle as a crash-landing object failed, as I spared him the trouble by riding the sidewalk and evading him by a whisker, as he continued his fight with the asphalt.

Slippers went east and west, torn clothes aroused the attention of a nearby trailer, and the auto parts dealer further up the road started to think big. In the end, the man on, or off the bike would be able to tell his rough and tough story.

But was it really worth it doing the Wheelie Wheelie, and without a helmet? The Jamaican State must save them from themselves with force, or by enacting legislation, if it doesn't exist already, that will curb this kind of reckless behaviour.

NIDS and theout-of-place attorney general

IF there was ever a time when the people of Jamaica thought that a country such as this needs a solid attorney general, it is now.

The mess put forward by Marlene Malahoo Forte in the matter of the National Identification and Registration Act (NIDS) has left the Government with egg on its face and another negative mark against the name of the Member of Parliament for St James West Central, whose competence in such a matter and related issues must be called into question.

The way that the NIDS arguments were presented was destined to amount to a monumental flop. The attorney general appeared not to be in sync with what she was about, and came up against lawyers representing the Opposition People's National Party in the Constitutional Court who were, on the other hand, well -prepared to argue against a system that had too many holes and clearly breached the rights of Jamaicans to privacy.

The arrogance of the NIDS unit too, in embarking on an elaborate media campaign over six months while the matter was being deliberated by the Constitutional Court, was an insult to the learned judges – Chief Justice Brian Sykes, David Batts and Lisa Palmer Hamilton.

Malahoo Forte had argued that adequate systems would be introduced to keep personal information of Jamaicans in safe keeping, which did not budge the learned jurists.

Now, is Prime Minister Holness still convinced that Mrs Malahoo Forte should be the Government's senior legal brain... considering that there are people he can call upon like Ransford Braham, Delroy Chuck, George Soutar, and Leslie Campbell? Mr Holness should think again before Mrs Malahoo Forte causes him further shame.


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