Editorial

Mr Holness may be smarter than we think

Wednesday, November 21, 2012    

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We can't go into Mr Andrew Holness' head to know what he is thinking. But the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader is walking a thin line in announcing four years ahead that his party's campaign for the 2016 general election starts now.

It is a plan fraught with danger, as we have seen with the Republicans in the United States who declared from day one in 2008 that their immediate task was to work to ensure that the successful presidential candidate, Mr Barack Obama, would not be re-elected to the White House in 2012.

In fact, the Grand Old Party's (GOP's) main radio attack dog, Mr Rush Limbaugh, said openly that he wanted to see America's first Black president fail in his first term!

Because of the position taken by the Republicans, many of the progressive programmes that might have helped to take the US out of the recession and provide jobs were opposed by the GOP. For example, they opposed the far-reaching DREAM ACT that would have helped solve much of their perennial immigration problems. And there was the refusal by some Republican governors to accept stimulus funds that could have provided much-needed jobs to their constituents.

Mr Obama's re-election demonstrated the folly and futility of the Republican position. But the US has suffered for it in ways that ought not to have been, if the GOP had been a loyal opposition.

In his own announcement, Mr Holness risks being seen as wanting power for power's sake. It is only just approaching a year since his party was severely trounced at the polls. Very little has happened since then to suggest the need for a new leadership of Jamaica.

We don't expect Mr Holness to encourage his supporters not to accept jobs from the Government's Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP). Neither do we expect him to oppose, oppose, oppose.

A long election campaign in Jamaica has other pitfalls. Political violence could be ignited. Worse, social instability could cause investors to be wary of Jamaica and, therefore, hurt our already hard-pressed economy.

But, and we prefer to believe this, Mr Holness is just showing that he is learning as a politician and growing in astuteness.

Heading into the JLP's annual conference Sunday at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Mr Holness was under fire from within the party for his seemingly lacklustre leadership. It is an open secret that some in the party were already strategising to remove him from the position as leader.

By announcing that the election campaign starts now, Mr Holness is heading off any "spoiler" who wants to challenge for leadership at this time. It takes the heat off his lacklustre performance and could unify the party around the common goal of re-taking the reins of power.

So Mr Holness' manoeuvre might well have been related more to internal factors than external, and is therefore defensive rather than offensive.

Still, it might also have external benefits, in that the ruling People's National Party (PNP) will be reminded that there can be no time for complacency and that another party wants the job — just in case it didn't remember this.

If we are right, and we think we are, Mr Holness will have shown himself as smarter than many might have thought at first.

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