It should be crystal clear to all well-thinking Jamaicans by now that the Mark Golding-led Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has no new and/or better ideas/solutions than the governing Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to solve especially the long-standing problems of Jamaica.
1) Where are the PNP’s new and/or better ideas on how to grow the Jamaican economy faster?
2) Where are the PNP’s new and/or better ideas to remedy the long-standing imbalances of our education system?
3) Where are the PNP’s new and/or better ideas to fix the choking issue of major crimes, and murder in particular?
4) Where are the PNP’s new and/or better ideas for a national identification system (NIDS)?
5) Where are the PNP’s new and/or better ideas for better management of the fallout from COVID-19?
6) And, where are the PNP’s new and/or better ideas for the revolutionising/repurposing of critical institutions that will enable Jamaica to take full advantage of the digital economy, and more broadly the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
These are questions I posed in my The Agenda piece of July 26, 2020. In fact, I have been asking these and related crucial questions intermittently in this space for nearly five years. To date no rational, practical, or fundable answers have come from 89 Old Hope Road.
I anticipate that those who do not understand that Mark Golding is our alternative prime minister, and that all well-thinking Jamaicans have a duty to repeatedly and forcefully ask the mentioned questions are going to bellow, “Guh ask Andrew Holness.” Many of these ostrich-types are happy to inebriate themselves with convenient ignorance.
We who cherish this country cannot afford their delusions. Well-thinking Jamaicans must insist that Golding provide time-bound and fundable answers to the mentioned questions. Consequently we must democratically repel those who say ignorance is bliss. It never is.
A conspicuous dodge
As I see it, Golding’s latest revamp of his shadow Cabinet is an elaborate dodge. Names on a paper with parallel shadow assignments, whether arranged thematically, ideologically, propositionally, sequentially, or subjectively, means little in and of themselves. Golding’s dodge must not escape the sanitising heat of public security.
The fact is Golding has been criss-crossing the country for just over two and half years. He has been president of the PNP for just over three years. And, lest we forget, Golding was a Cabinet minister in the Portia Simpson Miller-led Administration of 2012-2016. Golding cannot, therefore, credibly argue that he has not had enough time to sink his teeth into the long-standing issues which concern Jamaicans. It is time Golding either put up or shut up!
Shouting “Time Come!” and “Time for change,” are nothing more than hot air in the absence of fully-costed policy proposals and programmes.
Dr Paul Ashley, public commentator and noted lawyer, notes that the previous PNP shadow Cabinet was ineffective. I anticipate this latest ideation will be no different.
The PNP seems yet to have received the memo. There is a new and more discerning Jamaican, a critical mass, who cannot be fooled by razzle dazzle, 6s for 9s, and variants of what is mere tomfoolery.
With a local government election in the offing, I suspect, Golding realises that he is trapped in a precarious political position. As I noted here many months ago, if Golding does not lead the PNP to a win, or a very decent draw, he will be hard-pressed to remain president of the PNP.
The latest tweets from the reliable Black-bellied Plovers, Bananaquits, and John Chewits say that if Golding loses he will also have to take the wings of the proverbial morning and fly away from his position as Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew Southern. The birds shriek that if Golding fails to deliver the beacon he will also have to take with him Dr Dayton Campbell and Dr Angela Brown Burke. The birds sing that other Golding lieutenants would also have to vacate their lofty perch. The latest shadow Cabinet according to my fine-feather friends is a result of severe desperation.
Golding is evidently caught in a political pressure cooker. His escape route was providing answers to the mentioned questions. He has again squandered a glorious opportunity to impress the country that he is bona fide prime ministerial material, I think.
And there is something else. There is an approach in politics which is summed-up in this maxim: “If you poke Santa Claus you should not expect to get presents at Christmas.” Is this the explanation why Dr Morais Guy and Lisa Hanna, spokespersons on health and foreign affairs and foreign trade, respectively, were chucked from the shadow Cabinet?
Dr Paul Ashley said on TVJ News that he did not know if the PNP reshuffle was a “duppy or shadow Cabinet”. I think he is onto something.
The birds chirp that Golding might have proverbially killed two birds with one stone with his elimination of Dr Guy and Hanna. They warble that it may be political payback for the fact that Hanna ran against him for the party’s top job and the fact that Dr Guy supported Hanna in the bitter leadership contest to replace Dr Peter Phillips. The birds sing that major disquiet in the PNP is rising again.
Sowing the dragon’s teeth
Golding said on radio that his revamp was done to streamline and right-size his team in preparation for a retake of Jamaica House. I think he might have inadvertently “sown the dragon’s teeth”. This maxim is used to refer to doing something that has the effect of fomenting disputes and troubles. Some authorities use the phrase to mean action that is intended to prevent strife or trouble but actually brings it about.
The Greek myth of Cadmus and Jason has given rise to sow the dragon’s teeth. In Greek legend, Jason sowed the teeth of a dragon into a field, from which it then sprouted into an army of warriors. Jason was an ancient Greek mythological hero and leader of the Argonauts. Cadmus was the legendary Phoenician founder of Boeotian Thebes. He was one of the greatest slayers of monsters before the days of Heracles.
I think Hanna and Dr Guy were two of Golding’s most vocal spokespersons. The birds tweet that they have significant influence on the ground. With a local government election in the offing, the birds sing this is another massive faux pas by Golding.
The writing on the wall
Politically, I believe Mark Golding has been weighed on the scales and found wanting (Daniel 5: 27). The writing has been on the wall for just over two and half years. Dark clouds of political defeat are gathering over 89 Old Hope Road.
Those who are figuring that bombast, generational party loyalty, and/or mobile ATMs will be sufficient to bring home the bacon will discover, as rural folks say, “how water walk guh a pumpkin belly”. They will get a rude political awakening.
I heard Golding on radio last week saying that the latest Don Anderson poll showed the PNP 3 percentage points ahead of the JLP. The margin of error in the mentioned poll was plus or minus 3 per cent.
Golding should be very concerned that, after more than two and half years of criss-crossing the country, the PNP is caught in a statistical dead heat with a JLP that has not started to campaign.
I believe the JLP is about to hit the streets. Thereafter, the JLP will assume a clear lead and win the upcoming local government election, I believe. The JLP has done its homework, sources tell me. Sir Alexander Bustamante’s party will execute a clinical political ground game, they say.
Recall that in the run-up to the by-elections in St Mary South Eastern and Portland Eastern I forecast wins for the JLP while many political pundits hedged their bets, employed trite euphemisms coloured with self-delusional imaginings, and/or vacillated.
My forecasts, of course, were not based on any overt or covert prophetic abilities. I have none of those. They were based on credible poll findings which someone generously pushed under my door, personal immersions into the mentioned constituencies, and other credible sources of information.
In recent days, kind individuals have sent me information which shows a trajectory which favours the JLP. I believe the information is credible. Why? My readers would have noticed that I took a break from this space in mid-December 2023. Since then I have been visiting certain key parishes on weekends. There is plenty of congruence between the mentioned information sent to me and the findings from my weekend immersions/visits.
I have said here before, but it bears repeating, one of Andrew Holness’s biggest pluses as leader of the JLP is that he has reinvigorated and revitalised the sleeping giant of the JLP’s winning mentality.
Golding has not spearheaded a similar revival in the PNP. Several recent credible polls show that Golding’s favourability continues to plummet. The PNP continues to carry him on its back.
This is antithetical to our political culture. The party leader carries the party, not the other way round. Some pundits argue that a major reason for Golding’s continued fall in favourability is due to political inauthenticity in much of what he does on the hustings. I disagree. It is possible to be authentically dull and uninspiring, I think. It is possible, too, to be authentically stilted when trying to imitate aspects of a culture. I am sure many have seen videos on social media and elsewhere in which Golding has demonstrated a sort of uncomfortable aptitude with significant aspects of local culture.
I believe Norman Manley and Michael Manley were adept at being natural in the arenas of local cultural expressions and engagements. Michael Manley, in particular, because he had a high and natural comfort level with our unique cultural mores, used popular culture music and dance in particular to his great advantage.
Music and dance have been part of the natural make-up of human beings since time immemorial. Politics and politicians the world over have always taken cognisance of this reality, and Jamaica is no exception. ‘Politics songs’, or songs with overtly political content in support of a particular cause, party or person, have been used as an integral part of local campaigning stretching back to Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the 1920s, and some argue even before.
As I see it, P J Patterson, Portia Simpson Miller, and Dr Peter Phillips did not have to paste on any of our cultural mores. A big reason for Golding’s inability to massively connect with Jamaicans is that he is seen as authentically uninteresting, I believe.
Good roads are critical
Last week someone sent me a video which showed how miscreants destroyed portions of the fence which separates sections of lands adjoining the May Pen to Williamsfield leg of the southern coastal highway. Who is carrying out these reprehensible acts? I think they are the same kinds of people who are orchestrating fake bomb threats against schools, hospitals, banks, and other critical nodes of economic development in our country. They are close relatives of the kinds of people who fling stones into the windscreens of Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses.
The mentioned video showed that the fence was simply thrown on the ground nearby. They did steal it. This is malicious and traitorous. These people are clearly intent on doing whatever they can to reduce Jamaica to rubble. Well-thinking Jamaicans must democratically repudiate them. And simultaneously go full speed ahead with programmes to improve the road networks of the country in tandem with local best practices and international standards.
We have always had among us those who cannot see beyond their noses, due to Stone-Aged political dispositions. For example, when Hugh Shearer, our third prime minister, commenced a network of bypass roads and highways to stimulate increased economic growth in the late 1960s, some made infra dig comments about his humble beginnings in Martha Brae, Trelawny, and a few even whispered aloud that his then plans for Jamaica were scarcely more than the mutterings of an unlettered man.
Good roads are critical to national development. Many make the mistake to think that an efficient national road network is merely about economics. They are wrong. A modern road system is both economic and strategic. Among other things, it is a matter of national security, which is the most fundamental function of the State.