JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) Chairman Robert Montague injected a bit of humour in his address to the public session of the party’s 80th annual conference on Sunday by labelling some candidates named by the Opposition People’s National Party for upcoming elections as “beatin’ stick” — the Jamaican term for someone or a team that can easily be defeated.
At the same time, the veteran politician and campaigner used his address to caution Labourites against complacency, imploring them to pull out all stops to ensure victory in the local government election expected to be called next February and the general election due by 2025.
“Big crowd, dancing until morning, and noise won’t make us win. You have to go from street to street, go on every lane, every gully side, hillside — and you should skip out no yard. Go house to house and engage with the people in your division,” Montague told cheering supporters who filled National Arena and thousands listening outside.
“If somebody vex wid you, go and make up with them; build the love and unity and then you will win your division. The people of Jamaica know that we are the prosperity party. They know that we are going to win the local government election,” Montague said, pointing out that winning that poll is a key step towards securing victory in the general election.
Displaying the JLP’s two-finger victory salute, Montague instructed supporters to change it and display three fingers as a sign of the party’s intention to win a third term in office, as well as a third term in Opposition for the PNP.
“As of today we are going to put up three fingers because, as Fayval Williams said, the third term is loading. Go out there and win the local government election because it is an important step to the third term,” Montague said.
“We want three terms in Government and we want three terms of Opposition for the PNP. Put up three fingers and say the third term is loading,” the former Cabinet minister said, evoking loud cheers from the crowd.
He said the PNP was scampering to find safe seats but will fail to win at the polls.
“The PNP carried the Government to court over [the] National Identification System. They voted against the state of public emergency. How come we never heard such people standing up for decent people? How come we never hear dem call for the Finsac report? Is true a dem create Finsac and wrecked this country! Such people are selfish and only want power for themselves. Their leaders know they cannot win so they are running to look for the couple safe seats. If you really love the people, if you run at the polls and and lose you should never run and leave the people,” he said.
“When I lost my election in 2011 I stayed and worked with the people and in 2016 the people gave me the most votes in the country. The PNP are looking safe votes but don’t vote for them, Jamaica,” he appealed.
“One run from St Ann gone a Westmoreland, another run from Portland to St Catherine. If you notice, every single one of them got a decent beating from a good-looking Labour Party woman. As good men you must stand up and redeem your name. They know that the women in those three seats have served the people so well that the people are going to return them as Member of Parliament so those men run gone,” he said.
“If you look in St Ann, the three people who run and lose, dem run weh so four new face [have appeared], and they fought out the one woman up deh. In Trelawny dem carry two new beatin’ sticks. In Hanover, two new beatin’ sticks. In Manchester we have new beatin’ stick; and the one seat dem have a Manchester, we a go win that! In St Thomas and Portland there are four new beating sticks and, so help me God, in St Mary we have three brand new prekkeh,” he said, evoking laughter.
Meanwhile, JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, who is also Jamaica’s minister of national security, highlighted the Government’s achievements in his portfolio.
“We give the police the tools and the legislation. We have built more police stations in the history of this country. We provide the police with proper motor vehicles. We see them on the road, a fleet of cars to ensure the police can protect and serve. We have recruited some 5,000 police officers and added another nearly 3,000 to the force because we believe in protecting and serving the people of Jamaica,” Dr Chang said.
“The Labour Party is built on service. Today we celebrate 80 years of a party that has served Jamaica and the people well. They used to call us dutty Labourites, now they are in the shadows of the sons and daughters of those Labourites who are leading the country to prosperity. We are committed to protect and serve, restore order and safety, and bring prosperity and opportunity to Jamaicans,” he said.