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Phillips not the hope the PNP wished for

Garfield Higgins

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues. — John Locke

Some weeks ago I wrote, among other things: “Dr Peter Phillips is under severe pressure within his party to make a greater impression on the country's electorate, in particular the youth. The birds sing that some in the upper echelons of the PNP [People's National Party] are upset at recent pictures of Phillips apparently dozing at public events.” ( Sunday Observer , August 20, 2017) The severity of the internal party squeeze on Phillips is getting tighter by the day.

Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and president of the People's National Party Dr Peter Phillips is drowning politically. It is an open secret that the findings of a recent internal poll — privately commissioned by a big funder of the PNP — delivered a body blow to Phillips's prime ministerial hankerings.

Andrew Holness, with regard to leadership preferences and suitability, is leading Phillips by “donkey lengths”, as we say in local parlance. The birds tweet that Phillips's anti-zone of special operations and community development posture is indicative of a man who is deep in the political dumps, and is desperately seeking a lifeline.

Last week we again witnessed the underbelly of the PNP gushing out. I was not surprised. Too many in Jamaica are choked up with unenlightened self-interest. Do you recall these putrid comments by Peter Phillips at a constituency conference in St Ann recently?

“Make sure, Comrades, that the People's National Party is ready to become the Government of Jamaica. Remember is only one [seat] separate us in Parliament and we don't know is which one, whether is one weh a go prison, or is a sick one, or a crazy one, but is one, and any number can play, so get yuhself ready.”

The rot of unenlightened self-interest is a threat to Jamaica's prosperity. There are those who laugh vociferously when an old lady slips on a ripe banana peel and seriously injures herself. There are those who use their smartphones to capture the lowest points of human misfortune with a single perverse objective: “I must post it in on social media first.”

There are those who implicitly and explicitly support mayhem and murder. There are those who use stones to smash the windscreens and side glasses of Jamaica Urban Transit Compnay buses, which cost between US$150,000 and US$350,000 apiece to replace. There are those who feel that 'bandoolism', 'blyism', and skulduggery are as Jamaican as dukunoo. They have adopted the self-deprecating thought process of “a suh di ting set”. The ultimate objective of some of these fringe elements is to turn Jamaica into a pigsty, where life exists in a state of nature that English philosopher Thomas Hobbes described as “nasty, brutish and short”.

The fringe elements

Last week, the first zone of special operations and community development was declared in Mount Salem and its environs, St James. The vast majority of Jamaicans gave the initiative their blessing, as evidenced in reactions in various media. Historian Richard Hofstadter famously said, “One of the primary tests of the mood of a society at any given time is whether its comfortable people tend to identify, psychologically, with the power and achievements of the very successful or with the needs and sufferings of the underprivileged.”

The PNP and its surrogates, powered by unenlightened self-interest, tried their utmost to create panic and confusion to thwart the process. Recall that Phillips, the PNP, and its surrogates never supported the zones of special operations from the outset. He termed the laws as “oppressive”. In order to save political face and avoid the wrath of a major public backlash, a politically ineffectual Phillips sided with the Government.

To date the PNP's reasons for inveighing against the declaration of Mount Salem and its environs as the first zone of special operations and community development have come across as puerile and consistent with the philosophy of its 'Chairman for Life' Robert “Bobby” Pickersgill, who said publicly: “We believe that it is best for the People's National Party to form the Government; therefore, anything that will lead or cause us to be in power is best for the PNP and best for the country.”

The PNP's scaffolding for opposing the ZOSO has been exposed. It was constructed with rotten wood and scrap metal from an abandoned garage. These excerpts by the National Security Council, and the facts therein, exposed the PNP's grandstanding about faulty statistics as fake news.

“The National Security Council (NSC) met today to discuss matters related to zones of special operations, including concerns expressed in the media about the declaration of Mount Salem as a zone.

“The NSC reviewed the process used to select the zones of special operations and is satisfied that the decision to declare Mount Salem as the first zone of special operations (ZOSO) was justified based on the relevant legal criteria, intelligence, as well as strategic and operational considerations of the joint command.

“At the press conference announcing the first zone, there was an error in reporting the number of murders committed in the community in 2017. Nevertheless, the nature of the error would not have affected the decision of the National Security Council, as it was limited to only one of the factors used to determine the zone.”

A stumble may prevent a fall, says an English proverb.

The PNP — which oversaw the locking up and brutalisation of scores of key Jamaica Labour Party supporters in 1976 during a dreaded state of emergency, which lasted for almost a year so that it could win a national election — says it is concerned about free movement of people in the zone of special operations and community development. Up to the time of writing this article, there was not a single report of abuse inside the zone. Reports from credible media are that citizens are happy for ZOSO. I can understand why. A resident in Mount Salem said on Nationwide News Network, on September 4, 2017, that before the zone personnel arrived, dozens of men patrolled the lanes daily with illegal guns.

We must be very suspicious of those who shout,”Implement”, then when the implementation takes place they sing the opposite tune. “Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle,” advised Benjamin Franklin.

PNP on a collision

Recall right after its defeat in the general election of February 25, 2016, Derrick Kellier, Member of Parliament for St James Southern and former part-time agriculture minister, made this dire political prognosis:

“ 'Our political machinery has broken down badly, and that's why we are where we are today… we will have to climb Mount Everest to get back to where we were,' Kellier told delegates at the party's Regional Executive Council of Region Six meeting at John Rollins Success Primary School in Rose Hall, St James.

“ 'Going forward is not going to be easy… we are in a state of flux; we are all about power, personal power, and personal aggrandisement and one-upmanship — that is what we are about. We are no longer a cohesive force that can deliver the knockout punch to the Opposition, and can spread the word of hope and progress to the people,' he said.

“ 'We have to be baptised again. We need a refresher so that we can 'wheel and come again' in the true sense, because you should not take this Labour Party in power lightly. If you take them lightly, you are making a very serious mistake,' he stressed.” ( Observer, May 30, 2016)

Lisa Hanna, in a massive broadside against her party, also revealed the rotting innards of a party against the political ropes.

“ 'Today, the PNP appears to be a relic of the past, with obsolete messages desperately trying to appeal to a generation whose sights are set on their future. We are disconnected by deep chasms of brutal internal conflicts and division. The courage that once epitomised the movement has been replaced by fear from being bludgeoned into submission from having an independent view. Comrades are now quiet; resolved to whispers so as not to be labelled subversive, and the internal structures no longer function.' “ ( Sunday Observer, April 3, 2016)

This screaming headline, 'Get Used To Opposition' — Comrades Baffled By Hanover East Decision' , in The Gleaner last week was a clear and present reminder that Norman Manley's party is firmly unified in its division. The story said, among other things:

“A decision on Sunday by the People's National Party (PNP) to keep a popular medical doctor out of the leadership of the party in Eastern Hanover has left some supporters and officials with their mouths agape.

The Gleaner was told that the doctor went to Sunday's conference with the expectation that he would be announced as the new constituency chairman, replacing Dr D K Duncan. The doctor even addressed the conference in the presence of the party's president, Dr Peter Phillips.

“However, in an unexpected move, he was told that he 'would undergo a one-year period of training... because D K had unfinished business'.

“PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson told The Gleaner: 'D K remains the chairman of the constituency. There hasn't been any selection. He (the doctor) is just a new member of the party willing to serve in the future, but for now he is simply working with the organisation.'

“Neither the explanation nor Sunday's events have pacified some PNP supporters.

“ 'This is complete and utter foolishness. A man nearly 80 years old, and he is going to put a man nearly half his age in a one-year apprenticeship. This from a party who take people and install them a month before an election,' an angry source uttered.

“Another baffled supporter said, 'I am at a loss as to what happened yesterday (Sunday), but I can tell you that they are going to frustrate the hell out of him until he runs far away from politics and the party. I am so disappointed with Peter. The bold changes we were expecting from his leadership have not happened. I have one message for them: Get used to Opposition.'

“Duncan resigned as chairman of the Eastern Hanover constituency leading up to the 2016 General Election after serving as Member of Parliament from 2007 to 2016. He was reinstalled after Wynter MacIntosh, who replaced him, lost to the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Dave Hume-Brown.” ( The Gleaner, September 5, 2017)

The PNP does not get it

Jamaican voters have evolved beyond empty ideology about Michael Manley-type socialism.

A critical mass of especially young voters is focused on improvements like these which positively impact the quality of their lives.

• More women gaining employment — Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN)

• STATIN says more Jamaican women are gaining employment.

• STATIN says the number of women employed since April this year has grown by 25,000.

• This number is more than double the 10,700 recorded for men over the same period.

• According to STATIN's labour force survey for April, the number of women employed up to April this year is 534,400.

• STATIN also reports that male unemployment fell by zero point one per cent to 9.5 per cent or 70,600 persons, while youth employment declined by 3.1 per cent to 28.9 per cent.

• The institute notes that the overall labour force increased by 17,100 persons to over 1.3 million as at April.

• Of this number, 741,000 are males and 630,600 are females. ( The Gleaner, September 5, 2017)

Tourism earnings exceed US$2 billion in eight months

“Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is reporting that tourism earnings in the first eight months of the year have exceeded US$2 billion.

“Bartlett says this is 8.3 per cent more than the amount earned for the similar period last year.

“Figures quoted by the tourism minister indicate that stopover visitor arrivals for the eight-month period reached 2.8 million.

“He says cruise visitor arrivals increased 5.1 per cent during the period.

“With tourism earnings reaching record levels, Bartlett says the focus now is to increase the portion of the earnings that remains in the local economy.

“He says the Tourism Linkages Council has been mandated to enhance value-added offerings in the sector so that the retention rate can be increased from the current $0.30 to $0.50 out of every dollar that is earned.” ( The Gleaner, August 31, 2017)

Electricity bills should

“Jamaicans will see a two per cent decrease in their electricity bills starting this month, after the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) denied a number of proposals made by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) in its annual tariff review application in May.” ( Jamaica Observer, September 6, 2017)

Jamaica's best days are ahead, and the PNP's unenlightened self-interest will not stop them.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. — Plato

Garfield Higgins is an educator; journalist; and advisor to the minister of education, youth and information. Send comments to the Observer or higgins160@yahoo.com.

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