On the 24th of December I posted an article entitled “Andrew Holness…Jamaica’s Saviour”. I will be the first to confess, I got swept up in the hype and unlike Don Anderson I got it totally wrong…very wrong. The more I reflect on it the more I realize I behaved similar to the crowd on Palm Sunday.
Praise and adoration was only the prelude to the crucifixion. It is not clear as yet what happened to the many supporters of Andrew Holness, but one thing is certain he was crucified at the polls. The surprising but clear message communicated at the polls can be attributed to three factors - hype, fear and cluelessness.
The results of the election came as a surprise because everyone was caught up in the hype of Andrew. Think about it, if the JLP did not believe their own hype they would have worked the pavement harder, strengthened support among the undecided, maybe even postponed the election until they had a chance to do more on the ground.
Danville Walker stated that if he had just one more month the result in his constituency would have been different. While Danville’s conjecture will be forever lost in the land between speculation and dream world it highlights a valid point that if the JLP did not believe that the election was already won due to their hype they would have done things much differently.
Do you remember “call it Andrew call it”. The JLP believed that all they had to do was call the election and they would win it. Did they check the level of support they had from voters?, did they check if their hardcore supporters would bother to vote??, did they check the work being done by their opponents?, did they check Don Anderson?
What could possibly have prevented the JLP from checking these fundamentals things during an election campaign - HYPE. Since we have Andrew why bother to check with the electorate, they will be sure to vote for Andrew. Since we have Andrew everybody in Jamaica will be voting for the bell so some JLP supporters took the day off.
Where is the proof of this, only 52% of the electorate camp out to vote. Down from the 73% in the last election. Usually when the voter turnout is low it is to the advantage of the incumbent Government as voters are comfortable so they don’t come out to vote. However in this case it was the reverse.
We know that all PNP hardcore supporters from every nook and cranny came out to vote, plus some undecided voters chose the head, so with a voter turnout of 52% obviously some JLP support did not turn out. This helps to explains why Dr. Christopher Tufton lost his seat. Many JLP voters in that constituency ,who did not vote, openly expressed their regret for not exercising their right.
The minute “STRONG MEDICINE” was mentioned, the JLP lost the support of the civil service, the family members of civil servants, the friends of civil servants, merchants who sell to civil servants, creditors of civil servants, farm people who sell to civil servants, taxi men who carry civil servants, you see where I am going with this don’t you.
The Government is the largest employer and there is a significant multiplier effect connected to the civil service. The fear began there and quickly spread throughout Jamaica. A popular thought in Jamaica pre election was, if civil servants lose their jobs that will mean less aggregate demand in the economy and maybe as a result I may lose my job.
Apart from the strong medicine statement, another election winning slogan was the “weed out” pronouncements of Daryl Vaz on the political platform relating to the weeding out of public servants. This not only came across as being arrogant, but it generated a lot of fear. The comments angered many and generated insecurity and confusion.
Remember the advertisement with Andrew walking saying that this election was all about the change that he was going to bring about. It concentrated on the change from old politics to new politics. He was supposed to usher in a new era of accountability and transparency. However in December 2011that was not the primary concern of the electorate.
Lack of opportunity with the unemployment rate at 12.3%, hard financial times and a reduced standard of living were the primary concerns of voters. Instead of creating hope for the future, they focused on attacking Portia Simpson Miller and also focused on other issues, such as homosexuality, which were clearly not critical to the electorate.
They focused on “youth” and totally ignored the people and their financial pain, which to many is the harshest type of pain. Government involves implementing policies, governance and managing people. An effective government takes time to understand the needs of the people, their pain and their vulnerabilities.
The Jamaican people have experienced a lot of pain and suffering since the global financial meltdown in 2008. Not addressing this issue was perhaps their biggest blunder. The JLP had become very detached and disconnected from the masses. They had stopped listening to the people; as a result they were clueless.
As the introspection within the JLP continues, they will certainly implement the necessary measures to be more responsible with their political utterances, never to believe in their own hype, and to improve their ability to relate and understand the needs of the masses. The swift rise and fall of Andrew Holness teaches one lesson. Whenever a leader is ushered into Jerusalem like Palm Sunday a crucifixion may be near.
Contributed by The Trying Farmer….