Thursday, March 10, 2016 Excerpt Jamaica Gleaner
If we are reading the early signs correctly, the People’s National Party (PNP) has resigned itself to its defeat at the polls but also that it intends to be a model Opposition.
We know of a time when a one-seat majority would have been the cause of great tension and turmoil, not the least of which would be violent street clashes, multiple applications for magisterial recounts, and possible election petitions through the Supreme Court.
The clearest sign yet of a sober PNP is the impressive turnout of high-ranking members, led by President Portia Simpson Miller and including Chairman Robert Pickersgill and former President and Prime Minister P J Patterson, at the swearing-in ceremony for Prime Minister Andrew Holness at King’s House.
Mrs Simpson Miller was regal and stately in her appearance and Mr Patterson was, one could say, uncharacteristically upbeat as he spoke of Mr Holness’ speech and the country’s future to a television reporter after the ceremony. In short order we will see the personnel chosen by Mrs Simpson Miller to shadow the various ministerial portfolios and lead the Opposition charge.
But in the meantime, we have a sense that the PNP blames itself for its loss in the February 25 General Election, recognising that it squandered an abundance of good achievements that could have catapulted it back to office.
As it conducts its own post-mortem, we would not be surprised if the party concludes that it ran a terrible campaign in which it fell off-message, assumed that it had done enough with the economy that the people ‘would have been crazy’ to vote it out of power, and underestimated the symbolism of refusing to participate in the political debates.
Importantly, the PNP, in our view, rested largely on its laurels and so believed that its formidable election machine would deliver again, even without an oil change.
Truth be told, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has been learning from the PNP, and although out-resourced, it ran an election campaign which was more akin to that of the PNP. The JLP’s success at it might be overshadowed by the narrow win, but one should not forget that it took 11 seats away from the PNP.
Time was when it would have been the PNP that would have offered free education, no user fees; bigger tax breaks and other such devices that were in keeping with its 1970s mantra of redistributing the wealth to lower-income Jamaicans.
It is indeed a political switch to see that it is now the PNP which is sticking to cold economic policy and programmes and vying for the title of better managers of the Jamaican economy! more