Monthly Archives: May 2007

Strategizing to victory

Portia’s tactics:

Running high profile new/old faces :

Minister of Mobilization circa 1976, newspaper columnist and dentist D.K. Duncan running in a rural Hanover seat – most voters are too young to remember him and know him only as a newspaper columnist and Michael Manley’s fourth wife’s partner (Beverley Manley). D.K. is still too crazy to be Cabinet material, but he may well win a seat for the P.N.P.

D.K. Duncan

Senator, university professor and trade unionist Trevor Munroe running in a volatile St. Andrew seat – most voters are too young to remember this gentlemen’s migration from out-there Communist to radical trade unionist to Independent Senator to P.N.P. activist and talk show host. Over the years Trevor Munroe has gone back to his middle class roots – son of a Judge, Rhodes scholar, UWI stalwart – and will almost certainly make it into the Cabinet as Minister of something. Despite his ambition, may turn out to be the Yasser Arafat of Jamaican politics….unable to adapt to being in charge of boring everyday matters like roads, water and schools.

Trevor Munroe

Banker and former M.P. Peter Bunting to run in Central Manchester seat – Peter Bunting supported the current P.M. in her failed leadership bid in 1992. Ran against former JLP Prime Minister and JLP icon Hugh Shearer in 1993 and ended Shearer’s political career, but left politics in 1997 after being kept out of path to power by P.J. Patterson loyalists. Has been continuously in the public eye with his merchant bank Dehring, Bunting and Golding. Astutely got rid of Chris Dehring early on and then made a pile by selling the bank to the Bank of Nova Scotia. Twice linked in to the P.N.P. by marriage to (1) daughter of Michael Manley pal, O.K. Melhado (2) daughter of Michael Manley’s fifth wife, Glynne Ewart. Now twice divorced and very rich, Bunting is on track to replace Omar Davies as Minister of Finance and to succeed the current Prime Minister (should she win the next election….)

Peter Bunting

Portia’s key strategy : Letting everyone know that her Cabinet and her P.N.P. will NOT look like the current crop. Now people are starting to understand why she didn’t call an early election….didn’t want to be saddled with her current Cabinet colleagues….

Big hurdles : While it would be nice to just let the JLP’s Joan Gordon-Webley take out the tiresome Minister of Education Maxine Henry-Wilson some crumbs need to be thrown to the Peter Phillips camp who are still chewing over “what-might-have-been”……

“Paint the Town Red” (Brian Meeks)

Bruce’s tactics:

Keeping himself in the background and on the road – nobody is more aware that he is neither telegenic nor good in front of a crowd. He is good in small groups, explaining policy and plans.

Keeping the young, the dynamic and the telegenic candidates like Chris Tufton, Shahine Robinson, Andrew Holness and Sally Porteous front and center.


Andrew Holness

Chris Tufton

Shahine Robinson


Sally Porteous

Keeping the more dubious candidates (James Robertson and Daryl Vaz, this means you) in the background.


Daryl Vaz

James Robertson

Running on the same platform as Portia (free education, roads, better and cheaper health care) while promising the middle and upper classes that he’ll deliver to the private sector.

Being careful that neither he nor his candidates attacks the Prime Minister personally – he doesn’t mind people loving Portia as long as they vote for him.

Bruce’s key strategy: Change, change, change. The PNP have had all the time in the world to create paradise, it’s not going to happen in the next five years, fling them out, put in the JLP.

Big hurdles: Out of control candidates like Joan Gordon Webley attacking the P.M. and Andrew Holness saying he wants to lock up the parents of delinquent children…..The need to counter P.N.P. stars like Peter Bunting and Trevor Munroe with a few stars of his own…..

“Inna Di Dancehall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity in Jamaica” (Donna P. Hope)

Those pollsters !!!

Just to ensure maximum debate and uncertainty, the three most recent polls contradict each other……….

Don Anderson says the parties are neck and neck

Bill Johnson gives the PNP a seven point lead

Mark Wignall gives the JLP a twelve point lead

The Stone Polls aren’t reporting yet (cynics would say that the results must not be pleasing to the Stone Poll’s new owners, The Jamaica Observer…..)

We can discount Mark Wignall on the grounds that he predicted a JLP win in 2002 as far back as 2001. The JLP did not win.

Bill Johnson wrongly predicted the outcome of the elections in St. Lucia, so that throws doubt on his present work in Jamaica. Pay no attention to Bill Johnson then.

Which leaves market researcher Don Anderson standing alone (and undiscredited) with the parties in a dead heat…..

“Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists” (Joel Best)

The rumour mill
The return of Mr. Bunting to active politics has stopped the flow of money to the JLP from the financial sector. Bunting is seen as a “safe pair of hands” at the Ministry of Finance..

The JLP is seeking the return of David Panton from Atlanta to counteract Bunting’s star quality…

Love of Portia in 2007 will turn out to be like Love of Michael Manley in 1980: worthless at the ballot box

And hovering over all is the ghost of Michael Manley (friend of D.K., tamer of Trevor, mentor to Portia and Peter, subject of David Panton’s biography…..)

As Prince Buster sang, What a hard man fe dead…..

“Jamaica’s Michael Manley: The Great Transformation (1972-92” (David Panton, Rex Nettleford)

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Watching reruns: is this 2002 or 2007 ?

It’s like deja-vu, all over again…..  Yogi Berra

For those of us who remember the last General Election in 2002, today’s polls, columns and media commentary seem to be a rehash from those days.

2002 : Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Leader of the Oppostion

Here we have a Don Anderson poll published one month before the election in October 2002, indicating that the PNP was not likely to win a fourth term….

Only a day later, there was Ian Boyne’s column suggesting that the JLP was unlikely to win and stating his reasons, namely the unpopularity of the then leader of the Oppostion Edward Seaga.

Then 3 days before the October 16, 2002 election, we had Robert Buddan giving his usual lucid analysis of the PNP’s dominance in post- Independence Jamaica, while over in the Jamaica Observer, the Stone Polls (then led by Mark Wignall) were suggesting a last minute surge by the JLP.

So close were the elections expected to be that the then Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga actually refused to concede defeat on Election night…….

Back to 2007

The Prime Minister has not yet announced an election date, and the PNP is still short of a candidate in at least one constituency, but no matter, because Mark Wignall has already announced today (Sunday, May 20, 2007) that the JLP will win the next election based on the polling he has undertaken for the JLP in a number of constituencies…..

2007 : Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Leader of the Oppostion

Just to confuse us, Mr. Wignall backs up his own findings by saying that the Bill Johnson poll (done for the Daily Gleaner) has found the same thing i.e. a JLP win is on the cards. This is confusing because the Gleaner headline today PNP pushes ahead – Ruling party builds up seven-point lead over Opposition suggests the exact opposite ……..

Yes, it’s deja vu all over again…..

The whole struggle for power would be more interesting if:-

(1) it appeared that the JLP was sufficiently far ahead to be outside the margin of error. Right now, their “lead” in some polls is so small as to be meaningless…..

(2) either party had a plan for Jamaica beyond free education (JLP) and free health care for children under 18 (PNP)

However, we are not living in very interesting times. Drug lords have superseded Communists as our local source of all evil. Fun U.S. President Bill Clinton has been succeeded by nuts-or-just-criminally-stupid U.S. President George W. Bush. The young and dynamic New Labour U.K. Prime Minister whom we saw in “The Queen” has been replaced by a scandal ridden, shamefaced lame duck called Tony Blair who at this moment is still pretending that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths since the Allied invasion in 2003 are just hiccups on the road to democracy…..

We can still dream of radical change in some areas…here’s hoping that:-

  • Air Jamaica is sold to Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines and becomes a fun, efficient and cheap way to hop to Miami and around the Caribbean….
  • The sugar industry is sold to a manufacturer of organic juices….
  • The PNP or JLP win the next election, and much to our surprise, make massive improvements in health care, education, public transportation and environmental management while supporting a private-sector-led 10% annual growth rate…..