JLP all set
The usual carnival atmosphere could be tempered at National Arena on Sunday as Labourities gather for the public session of the 80th annual conference of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as they have some serious matters to address, none more so than the indication that the party is slipping badly in the polls.
Seasoned political watchers say the conference will definitely have an undertone of gravity as the JLP leadership moves to infuse the party’s diehard with the need to take back to their communities and street corners news of its accomplishments in Government over the past eight years.
The JLP has not made the announcement, but Sunday is being seen as the unofficial launch of its campaign for the local government election due by February next year and its push for a third consecutive term with general elections due less than two years from now.
Under pressure with the worrying poll numbers in recent months, senior JLP members spent the past week talking up the achievement of the Andrew Holness-led Administration, and that is expected to continue on Sunday.
The party’s achievements in Government figured heavily in the messages from JLP officials in two media engagements last week as they geared up for the Sunday show.
“We have to demonstrate to people where we are going and how we’ll get there,” declared JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang during a media briefing on Tuesday.
“We’re going to be directing the party’s workers, the party supporters, and the entire country. We’re going to show the road forward to make it a stronger, resilient country with a stronger economy and a wealthier, prosperous society,” added Chang.
According to Chang, the JLP has a strong policy to carry the country forward and the party’s leader should use his address at the conference not to deal with the minor issues which some people have raised but the big picture.
“And that’s where the prime minister has to direct the country. If we keep defending the minor issues, we’re going to get stuck. We have to get out of the pothole and move forward on the highway. That is what the prime minister is responsible to do,” Chang said.
“We have done major work in moving the country’s economy into a framework that can ensure growth and development and critically serve the people of Jamaica more effectively and provide greater opportunities for our people to achieve their ambitions. It is a long way to go still, but we are on the right road,” declared Chang.
He was supported by conference Chairman Desmond McKenzie, who told the media briefing that the theme for this year’s conference is ‘Building Jamaica Stronger’ and the speakers on the platform will engage in a national conversation on the vision of the party for the future of Jamaica.
“At the conference we will discuss the important issues that have already shaped the party and will continue to shape the future direction of the party and the policies and programmes as it relates to the needs of the Jamaican people,” declared McKenzie.
It was more of the same from Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, who told journalists at the press briefing that all Jamaicans, not just Labourities, are being invited to listen to the presentations at the conference.
“Listen to the facts, listen to the work that is underway, listen to the achievements that may not have been touted enough, listen to the work in progress, and listen to the plans that are in place to prepare a prosperous future for each and every Jamaican,” said Johnson Smith.
It was more of the same when the party hosted an Editors’ Forum on Thursday with official after official touting its achievements.
“The Jamaica Labour Party is standing on a record of achievement. We are not just saying that we are in Government for how long and that we just want to continue; we are positioned on what we have achieved,” declared Kerensia Morrison, the first-term Member of Parliament for St Catherine North Eastern.
“The mission going forward, and especially as it pertains to the young people in my constituency [and] in constituencies all across Jamaica who are benefiting from all that we have done in education, who are benefiting from the digital transformation, who are seeing their ambitions coming through, who are hearing now about the spark programme, who are seeing water in their pipes, who are seeing better roads, and many who are now getting better salaries. We have a strong and convincing case,” added Morrison.
As the party continued its final preparations for what it expects to be a bumper crowd on Sunday, one senior member captured the essence of the mood of the JLP’s leadership going into the public session.
“This will not just be about music, drinking, and dancing and saying ‘shower, shower’. Every Labourite will leave the conference armed with facts to destroy the myth that nothing is happening. Jamaica is in a much better place under the Andrew Holness Government and we will make sure that when the conference is done, the truth is what reasonable people are talking about,” said the JLP official.
The public session is scheduled to begin at 10:00 Sunday morning, with Holness expected to begin his presentation around 2:00 pm.