The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) lost to the People’s National Party (PNP) in the recent National polls here in Jamaica. The following are who I consider to be the winners and losers in the campaign leading up to the elections.
G2K: Generation 2000, or G2K, the youth affiliate arm of the JLP, lost much of the shock and awe factor they displayed in the 2007 elections. This time around, their predominant message was about how wrong the leader of the the then opposition was for the role of Prime Minister. The adverts were cleverly put together, complete with sound effects and made for more than a few laughs, I have to confess (watch one of said adverts here). Mrs. Simpson-Miller was portrayed as loud, war-like and lacking any ability to speak convincingly in public. But were they able to garner votes for the JLP? I don’t think so. Perhaps, the adverts were even seen as insults coming from a group of youngsters who could be her children! Mrs. Simpson-Miller, Mama P to her supporters, has been a public servant and a former Prime Minister in what can be described as a matriarchal society, one where the postion of mother is revered. It is not inconceivable to me that the JLP probably lost votes in their relentless attack on the lady and the absence of a clear message of what the JLP has accomplished and would accomplish given the chance.
I sincerely hope that the G2K honestly assesses their role in the last election, with the input of objective outsiders. If the present leadership of the organisation has to be changed, so let it be. It is certainly worth considering.
Daryl Vaz: Mr. Vaz, mere days before the elections, stood on a platform and declared words to the effect that there were a number of civil servants who were holding back the progress of the government and that they would be rooted out once the JLP was returned to power. I don’t think threats to a huge voting group who were already in fear of losing their jobs under a JLP administration was the best way of garnering support. It probably also turned off voters who were not even civil servants.
Performers who lost their seats: Christopher Tufton and Bobby Montague come to mind. They demonstrated a can-do approach to their work at the national level. This obviously was not seen in their constituencies and they lost their seats in Parliament. I hope they remain in politics. It is in Jamaica’s best interest to have a vibrant and functional Opposition, and I believe these two men have more to offer.
Andrew Holness: Mr. Holness, I honestly believe, has a good grasp on the challenges facing Jamaica. I also am convinced of his sincerity in wanting to address them and see Jamaica prosper. Having said that, the results of the recent election clearly show that Mr. Holness failed to fire up and inspire his own base, and indeed the wider electorate. A great leader is able to articulate a vision and sell that vision to his people and get buy in and participation. He failed to do so. To the extent that his intentions were misaligned with the results (his party was soundly whipped), I have to declare him a loser. In the shadow of his defeat, I really hope that Mr. Holness, regardless of the forces that pushed him to the top of the ladder in the JLP, will now dig deep and find a way to reshape and reposition the party. It will take determination, a vision, focus, wisdom and strength of character to do this. I would like to see more of Mr. Holness in the future. If not as team leader, certainly, a team member.
Kamina Johnson-Smith: This young lady, a former senator, came out of the woodwork and impressed tremendously. She was part of the JLP manifesto team and therefore secured for herself and her party quite a bit of air-time. As she did the talk-show rounds, she proved that she had a real grasp on the issues. She was an excellent communicator. She demonstrated a perfect blend of agression and passion without being offensive. I remember seeing her go head to head with bright, young, Julian Robinson of the PNP. She made him look positively ordinary in that particular interaction! I hope to see way more of Mrs. Johnson-Smith in the future.
The JLP Manifesto: This beautifully produced document clearly outlined successes and plans as per the JLP. It failed to sell the JLP to the electorate, but the facts therein are indisputable.
These are my opinions. God Bless Jamaica.