Was the snap election called on the assumption that the PNP had insufficient funds? Perhaps. And perhaps this was why the PNP would never let on that they had sufficient campaign funds. If they did, then the election might not have been called until September 2012.
I refer to the poem “Will you walk into my parlour, said the spider to the fly” by Mary Howitt (1799-88). Just as the spider was able to convince a doubting fly that no harm would be done to the fly while leading it into a trap, the PNP simply appeared threatened by the prospect of an early election. But in actual fact they were ‘lying in wait’ for the JLP.
The appearance of a lack of funds was really a trap because once the election was called there could be no turning back. I kept saying and writing that elections are won on Election Day and last week’s general election is a clear case in point. Just as in cooked food, preparation before cooking is key, but cooking is even more important.
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) spent too much money on rallies and motorcades while the PNP concentrated on getting out the people they had canvassed for the voters’ list. As I have argued before, the PNP has more hardcore support because of its election history. The JLP had the popular Alexander Bustamante who could only be countered by organisation on the part of the PNP.
And speaking about organisation, how serious are any of the other parties about winning an election? How serious are they about getting their message across to the people?
Not even the National Democratic Movement (NDM) in its heyday of 1997 ever had a song or a jingle that voters could relate to, let alone any of the other parties. Not even the NDM in its heyday went on a drive to canvass voters for an election, let alone any of the other parties.
Generation 2000 (G2K), the youth arm of the JLP, may very well have contributed to the size of the PNP victory. Evidently they did not learn from the PNP 2006 presidential campaign when Portia went through some ridicule and it turned even more delegates in her favour. As you might know, I am definitely of the opinion that Peter Phillips should be the prime minister rather than Portia, but there are certain realities that none of us can get away from.
The masses of Jamaica identify with Portia Simpson Miller because she is the main symbol of what is possible for the poorest to achieve.
So to ridicule Portia is to ridicule the masses of Jamaica who are sensitive enough to vote in her favour in revenge for anything said negatively about her.
G2K needs to learn some of its own JLP history. The JLP’s Isaac Barrant was Jamaica’s second minister of agriculture, a post he held from 1947 to 1955. He represented Eastern St Thomas between 1944 and 1956 when he died, having won his seat in 1944, 1949 when the JLP formed the Government, and 1955 when the JLP lost to the PNP led by Norman Manley.
Barrant was a sideman on a truck and in those days very few people at that economic level could read and write. So he was ridiculed a lot, especially for making clumsy statements like: “de palicy of my guvament is simple: ABC; A fe orda, B fe ‘bedience and C fe sense”.
But Norman Manley warned his supporters not to ridicule him because first, he was a very good minister of agriculture, and second, any ridicule of him would make the people feel ridiculed also.
And that was a time when there was only one radio station and one newspaper, which was not read by many because they simply could not read. Incidentally, Barrant died of asthma because he walked out of St Joseph’s Hospital to get some old-fashioned bush medicine and home remedies rather than official medical treatment.
After Barrant died, one source said that his wife placed a chair at his grave so that no ‘duppy’ would interfere with him. She also left a large bowl of rice and peas for the ‘duppy’ to feed on rather than upset her husband’s grave.
Did anyone in the JLP warn the G2K not to go too far in ridiculing Portia Simpson Miller? In my opinion, what G2K did was cruel. And I am not prepared to simply say that it is all in the game of politics. I believe that G2K went way out of line.
However, this is a new year and it is also a special year. It is the golden jubilee year of Jamaica’s political Independence, and the diamond jubilee of Jamaica Welfare, out of which nearly all of Jamaica’s social programmes sprang. It is my opinion that there needs to be a concerted effort to teach ourselves to see Jamaica as a co-operative in which each citizen is a member.