Ms Lisa Hanna — beauty and the affair with the political beast

Ms Lisa Hanna — beauty and the affair with the political beast

Friday, September 25, 2020

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When Ms Lisa Hanna came home from South Africa with the coveted Miss World 1993 crown she found a Jamaica mad with 'Lisamania', and in the immediate years following she was the most beloved Jamaican woman.

But as with all celebrities taking the political stage — as she did in 2006 under the banner of the People's National Party (PNP) — those same Jamaicans who were clamouring passionately for her quickly separated into their hostile tribal clans.

Still, the love for Ms Hanna has seemingly not completely waned, which might explain her holding onto the St Ann South Eastern seat, even if by a whisker, in one of the biggest political swings in Jamaican elections on September 3, 2020.

It might also explain why, at this most vulnerable moment in the life of the PNP, the public opinion polls have found that she is the people's choice to lead the party and fill the vacancy about to be left by Dr Peter Phillips.

Political pundits expect Ms Hanna to throw her hat in what is shaping up to be a crowded ring on Sunday, after consultations with key party stakeholders, and in the wake of the publication of the polls.

Bill Johnson's latest poll, commissioned by the Jamaica Observer, found that 20 per cent of respondents believed that Ms Hanna should be the next PNP president, double the amount who chose her nearest rival, Mr Mark Golding.

Notably, Ms Hanna was also ahead of Mr Peter Bunting (eight per cent), who was the presumptive successor to Dr Phillips before he lost his Manchester Central seat in possibly the biggest upset of the general election.

She is also trailed by Messrs Damion Crawford, who was chosen by four per cent of respondents; PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson, who was favoured by three per cent; and party Vice-President Phillip Paulwell, two per cent.

“A strong plurality of Jamaicans believe Lisa Hanna should be the future of the People's National Party,” Johnson said in his analysis of the findings. “She is particularly strong among those under 35 years old, where she is supported by more voters than all of her opponents combined.”

Ms Hanna's national popularity, however, is not an automatic guarantee of her party's nomination. She has found that the political stage is a far cry from the Miss World catwalk, and politics can be a beast.

She will need to win over Mr Bunting's 'Risers' with whom she contended at Phillips's side during last September's scalding hot contest for leadership of the party. She would also be well served if she mended fence with Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, with whom she fell out, assuming she has not yet done so.

The conventional wisdom is that Ms Hanna was anointed to be the candidate for the St Ann South Eastern by the former PNP leader, thus sparing her the agony of the political trenches that most aspirants must endure. Reports also suggest she has lost the support of some PNP councillors in the constituency.

But, at 45, tech savvy, educated, articulate, and comfortable before the camera, Ms Hanna has much going for her. She has gained valuable experience after two previous periods in Opposition — 2007 to 2011 and 2016 to 2020 — plus the eventful time as minister of youth and culture from 2012 to 2016.

The question is: Is she ready to lead?

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