Category Archives: Jamaican elections

The week: Keeping the Privy Council and who should win the election in Jamaica….

The Unforgiven

The Privy Council ruled that the Grenada 13 should be resentenced.

Then, just to prove that the Commonwealth Caribbean (the ex-colonies of Britain) need the Privy Council to protect us from the whims of our Governments, our legal systems and our own desire for revenge, the resentencing proceeded with water being thrown at the defendants, the judge refusing to recuse himself, the Grenadian government calling for the prisoners to be sent back to prison for life and the whole horrific issue of “where are the bodies ?” being raised again and being unresolved again.

The judge decided that three prisoners should go free and the others should go back to prison until 2010.

It seems impossible that people that lived through the 1983 murders, the invasion and the aftermath should be indifferent to the fate of Bernard Coard, Hudson Austin and the other prisoners. Threats are already being made against their lives, if and when they are freed.

“Maurice Bishop Speaks: The Grenada Revolution and Its Overthrow 1979-83” (Bruce Marcus, Michael Taber)

Meanwhile, down in Trinidad, the Privy Council ruled that
Chief Justice Sharma should face the courts after he was accused of telling the Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicholls to free former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday who was facing corruption charges for failing to declare a London bank account.

But once Sharma’s case came to court the Chief Magistrate refused to appear to repeat his accusations. Basdeo Panday had already been released on the grounds that his conviction on the corruption charges was unsafe. He now faces a retrial, but has gone back to the Privy Council for a ruling to prevent his retrial on the grounds that he is old and sick……..

“The Loss of El Dorado: A Colonial History” (V.S. Naipaul)

Just imagine if these matters, which appear to involve every aspect of race, revenge and Government interference in the judiciary, were matters for the Caribbean Court of Justice , instead of for the Privy Council……

How many Caribbean judges do not already have an opinion on what should happen to Bernard Coard et al ?

How many Caribbean judges would not be influenced by the race and reputation of Chief Justice Sharma, Basdeo Panday and Chief Justice McNicholls ?

The Privy Council is preferable as our final court of appeal simply because they have the very desirable perspective of being thousands of miles away and being able to consider matters of law as of matters of law.

If our politicians, judges and lawyers are so desperate to prove that they are “grown-up” and “independent”, they should perhaps offer to act as a final court of appeal for British defendants who have been convicted under terrorism legislation. The fear induced by the IRA bombings of mainland targets in the 1970’s rendered British judges incapable of acting fairly in the trials of the
Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven and the Birmingham Six, just as the Jamaican legal system, shocked by the ever increasing murder rate, was unable to act fairly in the case of convicted killers Pratt and Morgan , and the Grenadian courts were unable to see beyond the evil of 1983 …….

“In the Name of the Father” (Jim Sheridan)

Reader Poll !!!!!

Who do YOU want to win the Jamaican election ?

We’re promised the election will be announced soon (next few days)……

Mark Wignall has already called the election for the JLP…….

The innumerable polls suggest that the PNP has a slight lead………

Based on the polls, I guess I have to call it for the PNP……..

Do you have an opinion?

Please comment on the following:-

1. Who do you want to win ? Why ?

2. Who do you think will win ? Why ?

I’ll do a post next week with your comments………..

“The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth” (M. Scott Peck)

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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…..

Learning to speak Spanish on Jamaica’s north coast

“Vaya con dios, mis amigos” means “Go with God, my friends”

Long ago, Jamaican hoteliers Butch Stewart (owner of the Sandals/Beaches chain) and the Issa family (owners of Superclubs/Breezes chain ) used to call for Jamaican Government to take tourism more seriously……they probably imagined that a massive increase in the island’s hotel rooms and visitor arrivals would be to their benefit…..

Sandals Ocho Rios ( 237 rooms)

As it turns out, the Spanish hotel chains (Riu, Pinero, Iberostar) are undercutting the Jamaican-owned chains at every turn…….they have more rooms, reservation systems that actually work and lower room rates…….Sandals is now trying to reposition itself upmarket in order to maintain its’ room rates……

Riu Ocho Rios (800+ rooms)

“Que sera, sera…” means “What will be, will be……”

In May 2006 Jamaican environmental groups (JET, NJCA) won a judgement against the Government for it’s failure to follow its own environmental regulations when it approved the construction of the Grupo Pinero’s Bahia Principe hotel. They probably imagined that the Government and its regulatory agencies would now proceed with greater care and attention to the long term environmental impact of building massive hotels all along the north coast.

As it turns out, with a general election looming,massive hotel projects are still being approved and construction begun immediately…. totally disregarding not only the environment, but labour relations and the health and safety of the workers.

No infrastucture ? No problema ! Number of rooms far exceeds the carrying capacity of the town/village/community where you plan to locate the hotel ? No problema !

And three people caught between a rock and a hard place:

(1) Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

The rock ? The need to demonstrate that “she run things” by firing a few more P.J. cronies and by setting a new-fresh-totally-different direction for the government in order to win the next general election…..

The hard place ? The need to maintain party unity and keep long time PNP ministers, activists and financiers happy in order to have the money and internal support needed to win the next general election……

(2) Leader of the Opposition Bruce Golding

The rock ? Representing Jamaica’s most notorious garrison constituency, famed for its guns and dons…….(July 2001 violence)

The hard place ? Presenting an image as the leader best able to deal with Jamaica’s most pressing problem :- crime and violence…..

(3) DCP Mark Shields

The rock ? The investigation of the murder of the Bob Woolmer and the detailed, time consuming work involved in finding the killer – the eyes of the world are upon him. His reputation and his future are at stake…..

The hard place ? The explosion of violence around Jamaica, a bad omen for the general elections scheduled for later this year. As the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Crime, his reputation and his future are at stake…..

And there’s no run……

Fresh air

Perhaps because he has recently been re-elected, or perhaps because his people clearly enjoyed the cricket, the President of Guyana, Bharat Jagdeo, is NOT joining the chorus of Caribbean leaders blaming the ICC, the WICB, Chris Dehring etc for their own poor stewardship of their own citizens’ tax dollars…

He reckons that World Cup Cricket was good for Guyana.

Hot air

Meanwhile, much to the relief of those who believe everything they read, Chris Dehring has announced that Cricket World Cup 2007 is proceeding according to plan. Lots of money is rolling in and even the crowds are pretty much as he expected. So much for all the whiny hoteliers and governments who are complaining that the whole exercise has been a massive disappointment …….

P.J. Patterson (retrospectively) smells somewhat like a rose

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P.J. Patterson must be smiling at the praise he’s receiving from one of his (formerly) fiercest critics.

This administration has a leader who is now reaping the benefits from the Patterson-led one. The physical successes are there to see. Sprawling highways being built across the island. Huge hotels being constructed on the north coast. The rising of a new, black middle class being able to afford $50,000 three-day vacations in the more moderately priced all-inclusive (questionable service) hotels on the north coast. (Mark Wignall, Jamaica Observer)

Turns out that P.J. Patterson was just a wonderful Prime Minister whose long list of achievements are now being unjustly claimed by his successor, Portia Simpson Miller….

Jamaica prepares for elections (God help us)

In line with the usual election preparations, the Jamaican security forces have conducted a huge operation in West Kingston (the stronghold of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party). Four people dead – 2 killed by gunmen, 2 by the police

The Naysayers remind us that terrorising Tivoli is the usual election gambit by the ruling PNP.

The Yeasayers remind us that the gunbattle lasted for nearly 3 hours (that’s a lot of guns and ammunition in the hands of men who are not members of the security forces) and that the operation included the PNP stronghold of Arnett Gardens.

The front page of the The Daily Gleaner says it all – a screaming, terrified child who has just learnt that his brother is among the dead…………

When did we get used to this ?

Electricity company employees find out the meaning of “minority shareholder”

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo), the island’s main (but not sole) provider of electricity has been sold to a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate, Marubeni.

A cursory reading of Marubeni’s website indicates that this should be a cause for rejoicing, as, unlike bruk-pocket previous owners Mirant, Marubeni is a Fortune 500 company (2006 rank:215) which operates in 72 countries.

However, as the Government of Jamaica is a mere 20% shareholder in the JPSCo, the sale of the company was a matter for the former majority shareholders, Mirant. They chose to inform their Jamaican employees of the sale of the company at the same time (April 17, 2007) as they informed the Jamaican public.

The employees and their union representatives are furious. Just imagine how they’re going to feel if Marubeni decides to introduce a few famously efficient Japanese-style working practices……….Speaking as a consumer, I can’t wait.

Jamaican Christians finally get around to reading the New Testament

Jamaican church and political leaders have called for their fellow citizens to cease attacking and killing people whom they believe to be homosexual. Congratulations to Colonel Trevor McMillan (JLP), Councillor Angela Brown-Burke (PNP) and various church leaders for saying, albeit reluctantly, that homosexuals are fellow human beings.

For years, the island’s sodomy laws have been used by people (who openly commit such sins as adultery, covetousness and bearing false witness) to condemn homosexuals and to say that they only get what they deserve. The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church has a few words for the self-righteous.

Of course, if all Jamaicans are to get what we deserve according to the Bible, we might as well prepare for a very dark future indeed…….

Since Easter has just passed, let’s remember what we were supposed to be celebrating (King James version, Luke 10) :-

25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Giving thanks at the Cricket World Cup

Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas

Much thanks to Commissioner Lucius Thomas (above) for allowing the policeman in charge of crime, “expensive but so far well worth the money” DCP Mark Shields, to do his job and investigate the murder of Bob Woolmer.

Much thanks to our usually inappropriately interfering politicians for shutting up and taking a back seat to DCP Shields…..Especial gratitude to the Leader of the Opposition Bruce Golding and the Prime Minister for concentrating on the business at hand – the upcoming general elections…..

Much thanks to the Indian cricket team for bowing out at the same time as the Pakistanis….now all cricket fans on the subcontinent can relax and speculate about who killed Bob Woolmer…..

Much thanks to the Local Organizing Committee for not being rattled by the fact that Chris Dehring’s and the ICC’s predictions for tens of thousands of fans arriving in Jamaica turned out to be – let’s put it kindly – ridiculously optimistic…..they’ve closed down the craft vending area in New Kingston and shifted everybody to traditional craft mecca, Devon House…..

Chris Dehring
Chris Dehring

Much thanks to the organisers of the wonderful opening ceremony….

Much thanks to the Windies for winning at least the first few matches…..

Much thanks to the Jamaican populace who have expressed a polite interest in the cricket, despite the fact that they’d rather be watching football…..

(Since blame is being cast about like rice at a big wedding, no blame being apportioned here….. )

Let’s enjoy the cricket. We’re going to be paying for it for a long time.

Regrets section

  1. The murder of Bob Woolmer
  2. The fact that Chris Dehring is now so discredited he will most likely take the path of least resistance and enter politics in Jamaica……this we don’t need…..
  3. The form (or lack thereof) of the West Indies team
  4. The end of cricket as a major sport in the West Indies

Brian Lara and Clive Lloyd

Fare thee well, Brian Lara and Clive Lloyd…….

Back to the future

Jamaicans will be going to the polls in 2007 with the choice of turfing out the ruling People’s National Party which, hard to believe, is now in its 18th year of office – and electing the opposition Jamaica Labour Party OR of going on as before, with a newish PNP Prime Minister and the first woman to hold that office……

Should be an easy one…..throw the rascals out (because rascals is a polite word for them) but, according to the polls, the Jamaica Labour Party is only marginally ahead of the PNP and PM Portia continues to lead Bruce Golding by a good margin. What can I tell you ?

Bruce Golding

Opposition Leader Bruce Golding

In the past 18 years, huge numbers of people who grew up in homes without phones, cars or cable television now have all three. Huge numbers of people who worked all their lives as helpers, gardeners and manual labourers now have children who work in offices or own two or three taxis or are teachers or own a small business.

Pointless to say that schools and hospitals are in worse shape than they were 18 years ago.

Pointless to say that the huge amounts of money stolen or wasted by the Government could have been spent on roads, water supply, education, more police to fight crime…..

Seems like the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party needs to convince people that it can and will provide more jobs, more opportunities, more housing, more of everything….

Seems like harping on how bad things are and how bad they will be if the PNP stays in power isn’t cutting it….and is likely to be even less effective once Prime Minister Charming is on the road hugging and kissing…

Bruce Golding, you can read a poll as well as anyone. You remember how some pollsters said the JLP would win the last election, but when the votes were counted, they didn’t…..You have been warned……