Island temperature: hot, rainy, election brewing

Earlier this year Prof Carolyn Cooper infuriated other members of the intelligentsia when she claimed that the race for the PNP presidency was a struggle to determine who ‘owns’ Jamaica.

Is the island the property of the black majority, the so-called poorer classes ? Or is it the property of middle class Jamaicans of all colours ? Portia was held to represent the former (who have always been disenfranchised ), while Omar and Peter represented the latter (those who feel that their superior incomes and education entitle them to rule……)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Prof Carolyn Cooper

Just to clarify, the class struggle, as defined by Dr.Cooper, is separate from the race issue. Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson ran on a race-based “black man time” platform in 1993 and his 14-year-and-3-election-victory tenure proved to some that the “red man party”, otherwise known as the Opposition JLP, could never win again without a black person at the helm. (According to this analysis, Bruce Golding and Audley Shaw might as well have thrown in the towel in 1993 – too red skinned to lead…..) Audley Shaw

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Portia and Bruce (in happier times……)

As we know, Portia won the class struggle elections, and the poorer classes are now officially, and rightfully, the owners of island Jamaica. However, the middle classes largely retain ownership of the newspapers, columns and the media in general, and the new reality is causing much anguish in these quarters.

Who, if anyone, is qualified to speak on behalf of the poorer/working class ? And are they listening anyway ?

Despite the PNP’s non-performance over everything from the cement crisis to the GSAT results, the summer polls showed the governing party winning the next election.

Then came Trafigura and Bruce rampant. Having analysed the poll data, Bruce seems to have concluded that no JLP manifesto would be of any use with the electorate, and he has concentrated on showing that Portia is a weak leader who cannot control her pack of jokers.

The pundits have flung themselves into the fray – not least the Jamaica Observer and erstwhile Portia supporter, Mark Wignall. Kevin O’Brien Chang has had difficulty concealing his feelings about people who disregard everything important
to him
and just say “a Portia mi love and a vote for”. Tamara Scott-Williams wrote a excellent article reminding us of all the scandals, tiefery and general evildoing of the PNP over the last 18 years, of which Trafigura must be the least because comparatively little money was involved….Everyone who is anyone has had their say.

And now today’s paper carries Bruce Golding’s promise to JLP supporters in Manchester that when he makes his Christmas speech :” I’ll be doing so from Jamaica House as Prime Minister of Jamaica”.

Clearly the Opposition Leader believes that Trafigura and its aftermath was the tipping point. He believes that those Jamaicans who strongly supported Portia have now been disabused as to her capacity to lead the country and after 18 years are ready for a JLP dawn.

I hope Bruce has some very good, and very recent, polling data to back up his belief. I find it surprising that an electorate that was personally affected by the cement debacle (you couldn’t even get enough cement to make a chicken house, and construction workers were idle and unpaid) and didn’t let it change their view of the government or Sister P, would be ready to vote her out only 3 or 4 months later. Still, there must be a turning/tipping point and maybe the owners have reached that point. If it so, it so.

Which pollster you use, Bruce ? I hope it’s not Mark Wignall again…..

And which advisor you have, Bruce, who tells you that you should announce, from now, the election timetable and the outcome ? If you sure you running Portia, at least let her announce the timetable for her departure. Ever heard of hubris, Bruce ?

The PNP (in disarray according to the pundits), and the PM (vacillating and under fire according to the pundits) don’t seem too concerned to me. Instead the PNP looks like a party getting ready for a fifth term with its supporters fighting amongst themselves to make sure they have a place at the trough.

Instead of the old horses retiring to pasture as we were promised, we have Trevor Munroe and Roger Clarke booting aside younger men; Norman Horne using “tactics” to get a Portland seat and ex-JLP no hopers like Abe Dabdoub and Verna Parchment hanging around trying to look like comrades.

So what do the PNP know ?

Do they suspect that the owners of the country think the ‘bad cement’ problem was the fault of Caribbean Cement, the manufacturers, and that you have to be a determined reader of page-long newspaper columns (i.e.middle class) to understand that Minister Phillip Paulwell might have acted to prevent the shortage ?

Do the PNP suspect that Scandals Whitehouse ended satisfactorily for the owners when God was forced out, and all else is hot air and posturing ?

Do the PNP think that tying the Trafigura scandal to spending on the party conference mean that the owners feel it was money well spent, if not well gotten ?

Do the PNP understand that all the irate Portmore voters who are now using the toll road are not likely to vote against the government on that issue ?

Do the PNP understand the “Clinton” effect – namely that when a popular leader is attacked it only increases their popularity (remember Clinton’s popularity zoomed to the 90’s when the Republicans were impeaching him for having oral sex in the Oval Office) ?

I think the PNP understands the owners very well. They will not be mocked. They will not be told that they should let the country be run by those who “know better”. They may throw out Portia and love her still. But they won’t throw out Portia because the middle classes and the media tell them that that’s what they should do. (And I don’t think they’ll be electing Bruce just because he says he’ll be in Jamaica House by Christmas….)

If Bruce and the JLP are to win the next election, they have to convince the owners that electing them, and putting aside Portia, does not mean giving up ownership. It does not mean five years of being disregarded and condescended to and fed crumbs from a table where the middle class are feasting. I don’t see the JLP trying to make this case. Since Portia appears to be the PNP’s manifesto, the JLP are concentrating their efforts on discrediting her. It may work, but I’d like to see some evidence of this (some evidence like poll data – something other than column inches by people who would never vote for Portia in this or any other election….)

It seems to me that the PNP are not paying that much attention to the JLP or to the pundits. I think that the PNP are a lot more worried about the blood running in inner city communities and the police response (arresting PNP activists), especially since the “traditional” police action in a pre-election period is a massive
raid on Tivoli……..Remember that it was PNP MP’s and activists that called for Colonel McMillan’s removal as Commissioner of Police in 1996, because they didn’t think they could win an election with Colonel Incorruptible in charge of the force ? Imagine how they feel now with the police busy arresting men who have killed on behalf of the PNP ?

Forget Trafigura. People dying and having to leave their homes because of gunmen trying to control political turf ? Now that could definitely lose the PNP the next election……

The pundits bark, the middle classes shake their heads at the way democracy works, and the owners are picking out their camels and getting ready to move on……

Will they lead out Bruce’s caravan or Portia’s ? Island Jamaica is under new ownership and looks like we’ll just have to wait and see……

The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House

The Harder They Come (includes Soundtrack CD)

[composed and posted with ecto]

8 thoughts on “Island temperature: hot, rainy, election brewing

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