More en­ergy in its base gave JLP pre­dictable win

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Ob­serve­

ON THE eve of the par­ish coun­cil elec­tions JLP chair­man, Robert ‘Bobby’ Mon­tague, transmitted the fol­low­ing info to me: “We gonna lose West­more­land, but win about four seats. Manch­ester is a strug­gle and St Thomas is tight. KSAC will be hand-to-hand, but we have the or­gan­i­sa­tional ma­chin­ery to take it. Red Hills di­vi­sion is crit­i­cal.”

Mean­while the Port­land ‘king,’ the JLP’s Daryl Vaz, was his usual feisty self, cast­ing aside all mod­esty and telling every­one who would lis­ten that, “All four in West Port­land and three out of five in East will be in the JLP’s col­umn at the clos­ing of the polls. I will have one of the high­est voter turnouts again of 63 per cent.”

With an is­land­wide turnout of 30 per cent, that again was no sur­prise. Taken on that tra­jec­tory, with ‘all things re­main­ing the same’, we can pre­dict the date that an elec­tion turnout in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions reaches five per cent and the whole ex­er­cise is ditched.

The fact, how­ever, is there was al­ways go­ing to be a win­ner and a loser and the pun­dits had no sur­prises await­ing us like in Fe­bru­ary last.

As part of the elec­tion panel at Na­tion­wide Ra­dio, as the last part of the re­sults came in and it was ob­vi­ous that the JLP would snatch back con­trol from its wipe­out in 2012, I couldn’t help but take no­tice of the sotto voce com­ments from one pan­el­list with PNP roots.

“Hol­ness must know that a one-seat ad­van­tage must now be tack­led. I ex­pect a gen­eral elec­tion next year.”

In the eu­pho­ria of the mo­ment, some amount of prag­ma­tism many have been lost on us even as I agreed that PM Hol­ness’s po­lit­i­cal side could trig­ger him into be­com­ing a ‘chess grand­mas­ter’ and gen­er­at­ing a pre­text for call­ing new gen­eral elec­tion in 2017 or 2018, long be­fore it is due in 2020.

No more elec­tions now. Fo­cus is strictly on gov­er­nance, says Mon­tague.

The day af­ter the elec­tions, I was get­ting two dif­fer­ent views from Vaz and Mon­tague, key mem­bers of the JLP ad­min­is­tra­tion. The views were prob­a­bly made based on their re­spec­tive per­son­al­i­ties. Vaz wanted the whole hog soon.

“Thirty-two to 31 is un­ten­able for long term, es­pe­cially if PNP’s threat to with­draw co­op­er­a­tion in Par­lia­ment con­tin­ues.”

Mon­tague was more dis­posed to con­sid­er­ing all as­pects of the na­tional pic­ture.


“It is quite ob­vi­ous to me that the pop­u­la­tion is not now in­ter­ested in any more elec­tions. I be­lieve the peo­ple would pun­ish us for call­ing an­other elec­tion next year or the year af­ter. Plus, we should be in­creas­ing our par­lia­men­tary seat count by one soon. As a gov­ern­ment which has seen gains, we have to step up the fo­cus to growth ar­eas. It will be strictly gov­er­nance from here on,” he said.

Mean­while, the PNP’s dis­ar­ray con­tin­ues. First, even though we know that los­ing at any­thing is painful, that was no ex­cuse for the Op­po­si­tion leader fail­ing to show up at PNP party head­quar­ters to com­mis­er­ate with her most ar­dent sup­port­ers. This merely con­tin­ues the char­ac­ter flaw she has demon­strated since 2007.

“You know that I have al­ways loved Por­tia,” said Belinda, a lady friend of mine in her early 60s. ‘Af­ter hear­ing her rant­ing and rav­ing about ‘nuh buay and nuh gal’, I was ashamed and I didn’t vote. The PNP is still my party but Por­tia has to go.”

The Hol­ness-led ad­min­is­tra­tion now has noth­ing po­lit­i­cally in the way for it to do any­thing but lay out more co­her­ent steps for gov­er­nance. The rot­ting part of the gov­er­nance fruit is vi­o­lent crime, and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Bobby Mon­tague will be the key player in the broad­based ini­tia­tive be­ing laid out.

“Min­is­ter, if there was any­thing that I be­lieve could have tripped up the JLP on Mon­day, it was crime. Even though only the base of both par­ties showed up, for the sake of your party, that did not seem to have been a fac­tor,” I put to him on Tues­day.

“As the min­is­ter, I know that the buck must stop with me. But, I be­lieve our peo­ple have ma­tured, and in the many town halls that I have had, the peo­ple un­der­stand that it has to be a con­certed ef­fort. That is what I will be driv­ing,” Mon­tague said.

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