Monthly Archives: July 2007

4 biggest non-debates in the lead-up to the election in Jamaica

1. The debate over numerology and the place of religion in politics

Phinn-11

Pastor Phillip Phinn

Everyone (from the talk shows to the columnists) attacks the Prime Minister for supposedly advocating numerology and/or being guided by Pastor Phinn’s prophecies in her choice of election date. This debate reminds us that this election will be about who owns Jamaica.

Jamaican politicians use religious symbolism as a matter of course and always have done. The pundits and the middle classes (who, dare we say it, probably check their horoscopes every day) always decry it as a sign of the slide into superstition and ignorance…. Ian Boyne has their number….

The Prime Minister laughs at her critics, and bestows seven kisses on JLP Deputy Leader Derrick Smith at the signing of the Political Code of Conduct…….

20070717T230000-0500 125395 Obs Parties Make Another Commitment For Peace 1
JLP Deputy Leader tries to duck the seventh kiss

What comes next: More of the same.

Who wins : The Prime Minister. Every attack reminds “the masses” how they and their beliefs are despised by the media and the middle classes. Only Sister P is on their side…….

2. The debate over whether this election will be more violent than the last

The Peace Management Initiative is already throwing up its hands. Since they have no power, and moral suasion is limited, what are they to do when:-

JLP leader Bruce Golding compares the Prime Minister to Hitler (re: her popularity) and to Saddam Hussein (re: her Information Minister Donald Buchanan) ?

PNP Information Minister Donald Buchanan goes on a political platform to shout “Dem lie, dem lie, dem lie” in reference to Bruce Golding’s claim that his motorcade was shot at in Brandon Hill ?

Party supporters on both sides are armed and apparently unable to resist any provocation

What comes next: More debate, more shootings, another murder

Who wins: No one, unless you happen to own a funeral parlour. (However, the Prime Minister’s religiosity and serial kissing is starting to look good next to the Leader of the Opposition’s rants.)

3. Education and Healthcare – free or not ?

This debate is depressing for every reason.

Free secondary education (promised by the JLP) will not improve either the quality of teachers in schools or reduce the huge number of children in every class or assist the hundreds of schools plagued by violence or improve conditions at the hundreds of schools with not enough desks, books or classrooms to accommodate the children enrolled there.

Free healthcare for children under 18 (recently implemented by the ruling PNP) will not improve the chronic shortage of supplies, beds and equipment at any of the island’s hospitals and clinics.

So all the discussion and promises from the platform will not contribute one iota to improving healthcare or education in Jamaica.

What comes next: More, more, more of the same with promises of freeness becoming more extravagant as Election Day approaches

Who wins: Whichever party forms the next Government since the people won’t be expecting any improvements whatsoever, only that we shouldn’t have to pay for whatever inadequate services are provided……

4. The intelligence of the electorate

Are Jamaicans intelligent or stupid ? (Edward Seaga, Martin Henry, John Maxwell – and every other person in the street – want to discuss this…..)

You’re intelligent if (choose one ) you’re not swayed by (a) JLP promises (b) PNP promises (c) your instinctive fondness for Sister P

You’re stupid if (choose one) you are swayed by (a) JLP promises (b) PNP promises (c) your instinctive fondness for Sister P

Can you be uneducated AND also intelligent ?

You can be uneducated and intelligent if (choose one) (a) you plan to vote for the PNP because of the last 18 years (b) you plan to vote for the JLP because of the last 18 years

Can you be educated AND also stupid ?

You can be educated AND also stupid if (choose one)

(a) you led your party to election defeat after election defeat and still refused to give up being Leader of the Opposition
(b) you have a column in the paper and every week use it to defend your horrible record as Leader of the Opposition

What comes next : The majority of voters decide the election on Aug 27, and the next Prime Minister congratulates us on how smart we are

Who wins : Jamaicans who vote and respect the outcome, regardless of which party forms the next government

Real debates (hopefully…..)

THE JAMAICA DEBATES COMMISSION DEBATES ARE SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 8TH, 10TH AND 11TH AND WILL BE AIRED LIVE ON RADIO, TV AND ON THE INTERNET AT 9.00 PM JAMAICA TIME

For all election news all the time:-

The Gleaner has started an election website. Nothing interesting on it yet, but all Gleaner election articles are collected here, so if you don’t want to pore over the website for relevant stories you can go here

Good old RJR maintains a fairly topical website which is useful for reading breaking news late in the day. They don’t update much on weekends. It’s here.

Total Jamaican election addicts can listen to the discussions:-

Newstalk 93 here. Newstalk 93 used to be Radio Mona and features Anthony Abrahams and Trevor Munroe on The Breakfast Club- 6.00 am to 9.00 am Jamaica time and Steve Golding (Junior Bangarang) on The Corner-2.30pm to 5.00pm in the afternoons.

Nationwide News Network is here. It features Cliff Hughes, Carol Narcisse5.00pm to 8.00pm Jamaica time and Emily Crooks 6.00 am to 9.00 am Jamaica time. Nationwide is still the leader for stories the other media houses won’t/don’t cover.

JLP ads on YouTube are here. The JLP website is here.

Portia videos on YouTube are here : Election announcement in Halfway Tree . The PNP website is here. Portia tribute and more videos here.

[posted with ecto]

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The general elections in Jamaica : All over bar the shouting ?

The Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has announced that August 27 will be election day in Jamaica.

So who will win the election ?

There have been no new polls published this week (well, Bill Johnson has produced polls of a sort) , so the PNP is still ahead as far as we know.

How is it possible that Jamaica should be considering giving the PNP a fifth term ? Why does it appear likely that they will win ?

The Prime Minister remains the most popular politician in the country. Much has been said about the folly of voting for people we like, but being popular is a necessary condition for being elected in any democracy. It is not the only condition, of course. Policies are important, and performance and anticipated performance are important. All that being said, political analysts tell us that when the voter is in the polling booth, they think about who they want to be Prime Minister NOT about who they want to be their M.P.

In 18 years of PNP government Jamaicans have had their daily lives transformed. Not only does everyone have a cellphone, but busy professionals and businessmen often have several supplied by different providers. The bus service has been improved by massive subsidies and increased regulation. Young people can now buy a car within a few months of securing a job, as credit unions and banks compete to offer 90% financing. Office parking lots are full of brand new deportees (3 year old second-hand cars imported from Japan).

The Government of Jamaica remains the biggest employer of salaried workers. Despite the long standing program of “Public Sector Reform”, the one thing the government has NOT done is to decrease the size of the public sector. The JLP did cut private sector employment in the 80’s and paid for it at the ballot box in 1989. People will put up with a tiny salary and poor working conditions if the alternative is having no job……

The industries established by the JLP in the 1980’s (garment industry, data entry, non-traditional crops) have vanished with globalization and improved communications technologies. The non-traditional crops that have succeeded (mangoes, dasheen, ackees) are not the ones promoted by the JLP in the 80″s (winter vegetables, rice……).

The construction of new highways and the construction of the Spanish hotels has provided thousand of jobs (temporary in construction, permanent in the tourism industries). The men employed in construction are looking forward to the work still to come (the Kingston – Ocho Rios highway, the new hotels planned all over the North Coast). Everyone else is looking forward to all the spin-offs from the new hotels (jobs, markets for farm produce, new customers for restaurants and vendors).

The PNP is running 24 (out of a possible 60) new candidates. Among the new candidates are obvious Cabinet material like banker Peter Bunting and academic and trade unionist Trevor Munroe, who, we are being allowed to imagine, will replace two of the PNP’s least popular Ministers (Minister of Finance Omar Davies and Minister of Education Maxine Henry Wilson).

The crime plan already in place includes 4 police officers from Scotland Yard. Our faith in them may be touching, but so far the decline in the murder rate over the past 2 years suggests it may be justified.

The JLP is united in every respect except one – the former Opposition leader Edward Seaga feels free to criticize his successor, Bruce Golding, in public. The election date was announced on Sunday. The next day JLP leader Bruce Golding criticizes the Prime Minister for announcing the election 7 weeks (as opposed to the usual 3 weeks) in advance and announces that one of his first acts in office will be to introduce a fixed election date. Edward Seaga then goes on the talk shows to tell everyone why a fixed election date is a bad idea…..

 


“The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream” (Paulo Coelho)


Why is it still possible that the PNP could lose ?

The JLP may have found an election winner in its promise to spend 15% of the budget on education and to provide free secondary education for all children. Every parent feels the pain of the present cost sharing program.

The Prime Minister has persisted in defying the conventional wisdom. The pundits decided that she could not call the election in August ( because people are on holiday; the teachers, who are the backbone of the electoral system on election day, are preparing for the new school year; parents who struggling with the cost of books, uniforms and school fees don’t think kindly of any government in August) and she has called the election in August. She may have gambled one time too many, and the pundits may have last laugh.

The PNP are mired in corruption and have broken election promises left, right and centre. Very few people have been fired or punished, and those who have been forced out (like Dr. Vin Lawrence) are back on the party platforms within months. Or they reappear as “consultants” to government agencies earning huge fees.

Pastor Phinn, who has prophesied victory for the PM, may be wrong. (For those interested in prophecies, the Pastor is also predicting that Hillary Clinton will become President of the U.S. in 2008 and Jamaica will discover oil very soon…..)

The simple desire for change may yet overturn Prime Minister Charming.


“The Prophet” (Kahlil Gibran)

 

 

Why can the JLP win, despite what the pollsters predict?

There is no historical precedent for these elections ( a Government seeking a fifth term), hence the election may, for once, come down to the particular candidate running in each constituency. The JLP has been on the ground in all 60 constituencies for over a year and are very well organized. They are confident that the JLP can win as long as the voters vote for who they want as their M.P., instead of for party or Prime Minister.

Why we should want the JLP to win

Eighteen years is too long for any government to be in power, albeit under 3 different leaders (Manley, Patterson, Simpson Miller).

The Cabinet is beyond tired and bereft of energy and ideas.

Corruption permeates every aspect of Jamaican life. Political connections are still more important than competence and reputation when government contracts are being awarded, and there are hundreds of new, but shoddily built houses, roads and schools across the island as proof that neither P.J. nor Portia are serious about “stamping out corruption”.

The JLP and PNP have very similar programs and policies, however the PNP has proven to be weak on implementation. Time for a new team to tackle the country’s needs and wants.

 

Why we should want the PNP to win

Times have changed and the JLP have not changed with them. The JLP has failed in 18 years to produce a leader with whom most people can either identify (Patterson, Simpson Miller) or adore (Manley). The PNP has had three very popular leaders over the same period. If the JLP loses again, they will be forced to seek a leader and a slate of candidates who can actually win a general election……

 


“Mind Set!: Reset Your Thinking and See the Future” (John Naisbitt)

 

 

[posted with ecto]

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

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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