Category Archives: Mark Golding

Losers Unite !

Ian Hayles and Richard Azan both lost their seats in the last election, but, as Golding loyalists, they are both on track to be elected PNP Vice Presidents at the party congress in September. They were at Peter Bunting’s Central Manchester constituency conference to show support for Bunting who, after 13 years, was ousted on September 3, 2020 as Manchester Central MP by Rhoda Moy Crawford. Apparently the 3 losers united in attacking Miss Crawford, with Azan even going so far as to say she was not quite right upstairs. The PNP don’t seem to have learned that sexist attacks on JLP women don’t work (see Damian Crawford’s comments about Ann Marie Vaz).

In fact, it is unlikely that either Hayles or Azan would be in line for such important posts as Vice President if Bunting had won last September and become PNP President and Leader of the Opposition, since Bunting is a far more adept politician than the flailing Golding.

Meanwhile Karen Cross launched a Go Fund Me to raise funds to pay the fine incurred when she declined to take down various posts on social media defaming PNP General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell. All in all it’s been a bad couple of weeks for the One PNP faction.

The Government on a slippery slope

Last week CAPRI advised the government that the current minimum wage is too low to ensure families can live above poverty level and only 1 in 4 needy families received funds from the Government’s Care package.

The Government’s decision to relax the coronavirus restrictions also looks to have been a very bad decision as positivity rates and hospitalisations have arced upwards. If schools can’t open in September because of the spread of the virus, the pandemic will have dealt a killer blow to Jamaica’s Vision 2030 as hundreds of thousands of students fall so far behind in their education that they can never catch up.

And despite the Ministry of Health’s best efforts thousands of health care workers are declining to take the vaccine, making the Government’s plans to reach herd immunity slip further out of reach.

Meanwhile there have been 806 murders up till July 24, 2021, an increase of 52 over the same period in 2020. Crime is one area where the Government needs to make some progress soon, as nothing much has happened since the JLP taking office in 2016. The only thing saving the Government from abject failure is the relative popularity of the Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson.

Entertainment Report ?

The Prime Minister opened the Entertainment sector and the PNP immediately trended on Twitter as its 4 Vice Presidents and the Head of the PNP YO resigned. Julian Robinson denied that he was about to become Leader of the Opposition as it was rumoured the majority of PNP MP’s were headed to Kings House to tell the Governor General that they had lost confidence in Mark Golding.

Phillip Paulwell claimed that his US visa was taken away through the machinations of other comrades and Krystal Tomlinson accused her General Secretary of forming fraudulent groups with a view to manipulating future elections.

Although Mark Golding lost a spat with Ann Marie Vaz (who has a bigger problem with murders, Portland Eastern or St Andrew South ? Golding had more murders by more than 6 to 1 ), he seems to have won the battle for control of the party. He has lost the most popular member of the PNP, Damian Crawford, but of course popularity is relative, as Crawford lost a PNP safe seat to aforementioned JLP newcomer Ann Marie Vaz.

We should all be hoping that the PNP now settles down and goes back to rebuilding its base as, entertaining though the infighting is, a strong Opposition is a necessary part of good governance.

The Government continued with the clean up in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Elsa and continued to struggle in governance matters as Minister of National Security Horace Chang suggested that INDECOM should be reined in and the Integrity Commission is charging 2 unidentified lawmakers with illicit enrichment.


No elections ! I mean it this time !

The Prime Minister Andrew Holness says there are no local government elections this year. Based on his denials last year, that means we can expect the elections to be called in August.

The junior doctors staged a one day sick out which was apparently enough to force the Ministry of Health to address some of their most pressing issues – length of contracts and payment of gratuities.

Vaccines have arrived (65,000 doses) in time to give everyone who needs it a second dose. However the European Union is still banning visitors who received the Indian made Astra Zeneca vaccine, as opposed to the European made Astra Zeneca vaccine.

Tropical Storm Elsa passed through and exposed the fact that, toll roads excepted, the roads recently constructed in the Corporate Area and elsewhere were built without adequate drainage. Bring back Gully Government !

And the Opposition’s own goals continue as the PNP-controlled Westmoreland Municipal Corporation has issued a stop order on the construction of a house being built by the PNP’s O.T. Fairclough Trust Fund, which was established last year by Opposition Leader Mark Golding. Apparently, there is neither a building permit nor a waiver in place. Golding caused much hilarity on social media recently when he was filmed at the house placing a block without using mortar.


Vaccines, vaccines !

Minister of Health Chris Tufton has had a rough week. Soldiers turned away hundreds of people flocking to vaccination sites islandwide to get their second dose. In some places only people under 50 were refused a second dose, but at others the huge queues in advance of the site opening meant that the site was closed without a single vaccine being administered. Vaccines are apparently on the way but right now there are clearly not enough for those who want them.

At the same time nurses were complaining that they haven’t received their hazard pay for the vaccination blitz and more than a hundred doctors are concerned that their contracts have not been extended or they are only being offered six month contracts. The Minister seems to be suffering from cognitive dissonance as he was appearing on all the talk shows to urge that the doctors and nurses be paid and their contracts sorted out immediately. If the Minister is not responsible for solving the problem, who is?

Tufton is riding a sea of goodwill as his valiant efforts to combat the pandemic have met with some success over past fifteen months, however people’s memories are short and some of the problems at the Health Ministry are recurring decimals: there is never enough money available for timely payments to health workers and the Cornwall Regional Hospital renovations were slated for completion by the end of 2020 (and all now nothing 😔).

While Tufton struggled, the Prime Minister basked in the approval of most Jamaicans as he relaxed the curfew restrictions as of July 1, 2021. The nightly curfew moves to 11pm to 5am Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 5am on Sunday, and most importantly the entertainment sector will be allowed to reopen subject to receipt of the proper permits. According to many on social media people in their area are behaving as if the 11pm curfew is already in force and, of course, the partying never stopped for some. No sooner had the Prime Minister announced the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, than many critics pointed out that the Delta variant (which has apparently not reached Jamaica yet) is causing infection rates to rise rapidly in many countries around the world (US, UK, Israel, South Africa), the so-called third wave. Dog nyam we supper.

Opposition business

The Opposition continued to try to capitalise on the George Wright matter, continuing to press for him to be seated with the Government rather than among Opposition members. Karen Cross did not turn up to her disciplinary hearing. Dr Morais Guy berated the Minister of Health for his treatment of healthcare workers and Mark Golding made forays around the island attacking the Government on a variety of issues. Peter Bunting suggested that the easing of restrictions means the local government elections are near. He is no doubt mindful of the PM’s protestations last June that he had no intention of calling an election, only to call it 2 months later.

However, the general pandemic attitude of the populace still seems to be that if you’re not the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health or the CMO, (Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie) them don wan hear nutten from you.


Jamaican politics revisited

Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding continues to struggle to unite the party. The party has been divided since Portia Simpson Miller took over as leader in 2006 and the disunity continued under Peter Phillips. Fifteen years is a long time to be fighting over the leadership. The central issue of who has the right to lead Norman Manley’s party is apparently a matter of both credentials and electability. Portia was electable but lacked the middle class credentials, Peter Phillips had the credentials but was ultimately poison at the ballot box. Mark Golding is a lawyer, a banker and, like Bob Marley, has an English father and a Jamaican mother. He needs more time to demonstrate whether he can appeal to Jamaican voters.

It’s not clear why Golding is causing so much dissension inside the party. There are no policy or ideological issues at stake. It seems that just as Peter Phillips refused to accept Portia as leader, some members of the PNP are refusing to accept Golding on no better grounds than he was not their choice. He and Dayton Campbell were key figures in Peter Bunting’s Rise United faction that attempted to unseat Peter Phillips in 2019. The argument that the Risers caused the PNP to lose the 2020 election ignores the fact that the PNP and Phillips were never ahead in the polls after 2016. In any case most of the Risers lost their seats and the prime culprit, Peter Bunting, is sidelined in the Senate alongside another PNP leader wannabe Damion Crawford. Supporters of Lisa Hanna can’t deny that she has major problems in her constituency, with the resignation of another councillor. Until she can sort out her home turf, she continues to lack credibility as a leadership contender. However, Golding has not yet found his feet. He seems to have retained the same inept communications team that made Peter Phillips a laughing stock on social media, and he is a long way from remaking himself as a man of the people.

Until Mark Golding has been at least a year in office and the pollsters can go in the field, the question of his electability may best be answered by observing the current Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Nationwide’s 2020 Blue Dot poll found him to be enjoying historic levels of popularity. Can he sustain this until the next election in 2024/5 ? The success of the weekend lockdowns (since March 2021 ) in reducing the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations suggests that, right now, the Prime Minister and the government continue to enjoy the confidence of the majority who are willing to endure the very considerable difficulty and inconvenience of the lockdowns. There are many gripes about corruption, the indifference to the environment when mining or a new hotel is in the balance, crime continues unabated, vaccines are running short, and more than a hundred thousand children have not attended any form of school since the pandemic began, but nothing has yet happened to cause the nation’s hearts and minds to turn hopefully to the warring PNP.

Violence against women is a problem for both parties: George Wright’s resignation from the JLP still leaves him with a seat in Parliament (and he is insisting he will not only not resign but will run again) and Dayton Campbell’s defamation lawsuit against Karen Cross et al will be winding its way through the courts for months to come. As usual, both parties will hope for other less vexing issues to take over on social media and the front pages of the newspapers long before they are forced to do anything substantive.

Golding has appointed Tony Bogues, formerly Michael Manley’s right hand man, to chair the party’s Policy/Vision Committee. This is apparently in response to those who feel that the party has lost its way and needs to find out what it stands for. Arguably neither the PNP or the JLP have stood for much of anything since the end of the Cold War. Both parties run on promoting growth in a market economy, a slate of competent candidates, policies that favour both business and the working class, with a little something thrown in for the poor. Who wins appears to depend on the popularity of the leader and their supporting cast. Right now Holness, Tufton et al are winning the race.

Your feel good tune of the week is Go Down Deh.