Election 2011: The big losers, the returnees, the veteran survivors...

BY DESMOND ALLEN Executive editor - operations allend@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 01, 2012


THE December 29 general election which spectacularly swept the People's National Party (PNP) back into power provides many interesting revelations, some of which we'll share with Sunday Observer readers.

The stenographer who became prime minister twice over

Portia Simpson Miller continues to write her name in the history book of Jamaican politics.

Having taken the record as Jamaica's first woman prime minister in 2006, she has now become the first woman party leader to lose an election and regain power. The first party leader to do so was the late Michael Manley, who lost the 1980 election to Eddie Seaga but won again in 1989.

With 29 years as an MP, Simpson Miller is now the longest-serving woman member of parliament still at Gordon House and, had her stint — which started in 1976 — not been interrupted by the PNP's boycott of the snap election of 1983, she would now be the longest-serving MP overall.

She first entered representational politics, winning the Trench Town West division to become a councillor in the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation in 1974. She described herself at the time as a stenographer.

When Simpson Miller ran for the South West St Andrew constituency in 1976, it was held by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), having been won by the famous Wilton Hill in 1972. She beat Joseph McPherson with a whopping 13,584 votes to his 4,376. The seat has not returned to the JLP since, not counting 1983.

Karl Samuda and Mike Henry — a pair of peers

Karl Samuda and Mike Henry are tied as the longest currently serving MPs, with both about to start their 32nd year. The two entered the race for Parliament in 1976 and lost, but won in 1980 and have never lost since. Henry lost to the much loved O D Ramtallie in 1976 in Central Clarendon and then beat him convincingly in 1980. Samuda suffered his only loss at the hands of Dr Ken McNeill in 1976. In 1980, he beat the big trade unionist Carlyle Dunkley in North Central St Andrew. He is storied for the fact that he ran for the PNP in 1993, after a major fallout with Seaga. His teary-eyed return to the JLP fold was in time to win the 1997 elections, making him the only MP to have crossed the floor and won in consecutive elections.

The veteran survivors

This election suggests that experience won out over youth. Nearly all the long-timers succeeded over their younger rivals. Among the other political veterans, those who entered Parliament at latest 1980 and will form the 16th Parliament are: For the JLP - Pearnel Charles; Edmund Bartlett; William Hutchinson; Olivia 'Babsy' Grange; Dr Ken Baugh; Everald Warmington; and for the PNP - Dr D K Duncan; and Derrick Kellier.

The returnees who came in from the cold

Lawyer Patrick Atkinson ran for the JLP in 1976 when he was trounced by the PNP's Selvin Dewar. In the 2011 election he clobbered the JLP's Dennis Meadows in North Trelawny.

Horace Dalley returns to Parliament after losing to Laurie Broderick in 2007, but has now turned around and thrashed him in 2011 for the North Clarendon seat.

Lloyd B Smith lost in South St James in 1997 when he ran on a JLP ticket, but has now triumphed for the PNP against the JLP's Heroy Clarke in Central St James, one of the three new constituencies.

Desmond McKenzie got his beating from the late Arthur Jones when he ran for the JLP in 1993 in South St Andrew, which is currently held by Dr Omar Davies. McKenzie is now the JLP's flag bearer in West Kingston after years of helping Seaga and then Bruce Golding to win the seat.

Why does Sandra Nesbeth keep running?

The JLP's Dr Sandra Nesbeth is all heart and determination. She has just received her fifth straight beating from the PNP's Robert Pickersgill, having first challenged him in 1993. With 4,460, or 38 per cent of the votes to Pickersgill's 7,591 votes in the preliminary count, the 52-year-old medical doctor has recorded her third best performance this election.

What they lost

Some losing candidates on the JLP side lost significantly more than the seat they contested.

* The JLP's Danville Walker, who gave Peter Bunting quite the scare, gave up his United States citizenship and his important position as commissioner of Customs to run for the Central Manchester seat.

* Sharon Hay Webster renounced her US citizenship and crossed the floor from a sure PNP seat to join the JLP and run in the newly created East St Catherine constituency.

* Patrece Charles-Freeman gave back her US citizenship and her job as director of JADCo, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, to run in East St Thomas.

* Joan Gordon-Webley, a JLP veteran from the 1980 election, gave up her job as executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority in her losing run against the first Rastaman MP, Damion Crawford of the PNP in East Rural St Andrew.

* Suzette Camile Buchanan, who'll be remembered for riding a horse to nomination, relinquished her cushy job as director of Caymanas Track Limited, to take on the PNP's Arnoldo Brown in East Central St Catherine.

All the others who gave up non-Jamaican citizenship won their seats. They are: the JLP's Daryl Vaz (US) from West Portland; Shahine Robinson (US) from North East St Ann; Gregory Mair (Venezuelan) of North East St Catherine; and the PNP's Ian Hayles (US) of Western Hanover.

Voters not swayed by beauties?

Of the five women who stand out for their physical beauty, only the PNP's Lisa Hanna, a former Miss World, won her South East St Ann seat. The losing candidates, all of the JLP, are:

* Dr Saphire Longmore, a former Miss Jamaica and a pregnant candidate who lost in her East St Andrew bid.

* Marlene Malahoo-Forte ran up against the impregnable Roger Clarke in Central Westmoreland.

* Dr Patrece Charles-Freeman would have achieved the record for the first father-daughter duo in Parliament, with her veteran dad, Pearnel Charles, but lost after a good fight with the PNP's Dr Fenton Ferguson in East St Thomas.

* Paula Kerr-Jarrett ran bravely, but was no match for the veteran election strategist Dr D K Duncan in East Hanover.

Phillips and Son Limited

Dr Peter Phillips, the PNP campaign director, in retaining his St Andrew East Central seat, has been joined in Parliament by his son, Mikael Phillips, who took the North West Manchester seat, making them the second father-son duo on the same team in the same Parliament. The first was Norman Maney and his sin Michael in 1969.

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Nicholos Spence
1/2/2012 - 4:24 AM
@Melasante Daley The PNP never really just fielded better candidates they used the "old time" political tactic of "Garrison Politics" for all you were hearing on the news was labourites being attacked. Also, bear in mind that was a low voters turnout and most of those who had voted are "grass rooted" persons and/or persons that had a "hand to mouth" mentality.
Melasante Daley
1/1/2012 - 3:11 PM
Winning elections are not as simple as this, however, when all thing being equal, it often comes down to who fielded the better candidates. Excluding Tufton, the PNP head to head with the JLP fielded the better candidates. PNP candidates were seen as more honest, credible, patriotic, compassionate, and transparent. While the debates were confined to a select group of individuals, it was a good overall representation of each party. JLP were seen as arrogant, and, or put there to fill numbers.
Sophia-Marrie Johnson
1/1/2012 - 12:45 PM
So much to give up for a lost cause.