Ev­ery­one should laugh, but Lisa Hanna

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

NO ONE took Noel Arscott se­ri­ously when he was a min­is­ter of govern­ment. That is un­likely to have im­proved now that he is in op­po­si­tion.

So, peo­ple are ex­pected to have a good laugh about his prog­nos­ti­ca­tions on lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, when­ever they are held, for which he is the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party’s (PNP) cam­paign direc­tor.

“We are go­ing to re­tain all of them (the 12 parish coun­cils, Port­more Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Kingston and St An­drew Cor­po­ra­tion),” Mr Arscott told this news­pa­per. “We will have some chal­lenges in a few, but I am con­fi­dent that we will be re­turned in all of them.”

When they fol­low quickly af­ter a gen­eral elec­tion, the party that wins at a na­tional level usu­ally wins the ma­jor­ity of the parish gov­ern­ments. But Noel Arscott is ap­par­ently bet­ting, or wants to con­vince peo­ple, that hav­ing cap­tured the Govern­ment by a sin­gle par­lia­men­tary seat, and an over­all ma­jor­ity of merely 3,000 votes, the elec­torate has al­ready grown dis­en­chanted with the Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP).

More­over, the squab­bles that marred the PNP’s can­di­date se­lec­tion for the gen­eral elec­tion are not there this time round.

But more im­por­tant, ac­cord­ing to Mr Arscott, the PNP will cam­paign on its record. That de­pends on which one.

At the na­tional level, the PNP can boast a de­cent record in eco­nomic man­age­ment dur­ing its last stint in govern­ment. Its fis­cal dis­ci­pline helped to cau­terise the na­tional debt and es­tab­lish a macroe­co­nomic en­vi­ron­ment from which there is po­ten­tial for sus­tain­able growth. But at the mu­nic­i­pal level, the per­for­mance of its elected of­fi­cials was largely abysmal. They were weak on ac­count­abil­ity and lack­ing in vi­sion.

Nowhere is this more on dis­play than at the Kingston and St An­drew Cor­po­ra­tion, the lo­cal govern­ment that cov­ers sig­nif­i­cant swathes of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the is­land’s cap­i­tal, Kingston – a disor­derly, chaotic, gritty city for whose de­vel­op­ment and over­sight its man­agers ap­pear to have run out of ideas. They, for the most part, don’t even at­tempt to en­force their own rules and reg­u­la­tions.

TOO PRE­SUMP­TU­OUS

This is hardly a recipe for win­ning the ma­jor­ity of seats across the parishes.

There is one is­sue, how­ever, on which no one is likely to see Mr Arscott as min­strel, and if we were Lisa Hanna, we’d view him as deadly se­ri­ous with an agenda to our detri­ment. Ms Hanna, the for­mer min­is­ter with re­spon­si­bil­ity for youth, is one of those who ar­gued for re­newal in the af­ter­math of the PNP’s de­feat in Fe­bru­ary. She of­fered her­self for one of the party’s four vice-pres­i­den­tial posts in last month’s in­ter­nal elec­tion and re­ceived the least votes of the five can­di­dates.

She has since been at­tacked by for­mer Cab­i­net col­league A.J. Nicholson. Ms Hanna’s de­feat was a de­ci­sion by del­e­gates, he claimed, not to “re­ward and el­e­vate fail­ure”, which is how he char­ac­terises Ms Hanna’s per­for­mance in govern­ment, her man­age­ment of her con­stituency, and the po­lit­i­cal re­gion she chairs. Oth­ers per­ceive the Es­tab­lish­ment’s hoist­ing of the draw­bridge on some­one who had grown, for them, too pre­sump­tu­ous.

Mr Arscott, also one of the PNP’s vice-pres­i­dents, says Ms Hanna will have a ma­jor role in the cam­paign, and ex­pects her to “demon­strate what she can do po­lit­i­cally”.

In this sce­nario, Mr Arscott seems to pos­sess the bear­ing of a Tro­jan horse, and Ms Hanna some­one who has been gifted a bomb with a fuse al­ready primed and charged.

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