Best News & Current Affairs Blog (2011 & 2012) and Jamaican Blogger of the Year (2011) at The Jamaica Blog Awards.

Jamaica’s Love Affair With The PNP


Dr. The Hon. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance, made his much anticipated opening presentation in the 2012/2013 Budget Debate last week. Dr. Phillips outlined to an expectant nation how the Simpson Miller led administration intends to finance the $612 billion Estimates of Expenditure he had tabled on May 10.

 Of particular concern is the $19.4 billion tax package outlined by the Minister. Taking careful aim, Phillips applied the GCT to everything from milk, to crackers, to saltfish, even patties – while lowering the overall rate of the GCT by 1%. The tax on electricity, which was to have been abolished as promised by the PM herself, was expanded; printed material, the telecoms sector, the tourism sector – all taxed. Coupled with this massive tax package was a public sector wage freeze. The stage seemed set for riots and demonstrations, as was the case in 2009, when then Minister Shaw outlined a similar tax package. Instead, there has been little more than murmurings of discontent at the tax burden and a quiet acceptance of the wage freeze by public sector groups. I was stunned. What was so different when Shaw had proposed these measures? All hell had broken loose then, why not now? And then it hit me, this is PNP country. Jamaica is in bed with the PNP, and like an abused spouse, we silently bear the beatings, because surely Mama P loves us, a dats why she beat wi.

The outgoing President of the JLP affiliate G2K, Delano Seiveright, in his farewell letter slammed various sectors of the Jamaican society as “politically lopsided, intellectually dishonest and excessively hypocritical.” While I generally have little patience for the utterances of Mr. Seiveright, this comment has found favour with me. We are a politically lopsided people, content with accepting from the PNP what we had chastised the JLP for. In accepting this budget and making the case that “he had no other choice”, we are being intellectually dishonest. Why did we expect Shaw to find other solutions, but excuse Dr. Phillips’ general lack of said solutions? In defending and accepting what we condemned in 2009, 2010 and 2011, we betray the extent of our hypocrisy. The cards appear carefully stacked against the JLP, but why?

I believe the answer can be found in the era of the Manleys, in particular Michael Manley, and Edward Seaga. Manley was seen as a champion of the poor, a leader who loved the working and lower classes, but not only did he love them, he wanted to see them uplifted – a much different arrangement than the one which obtains under Simpson Miller’s token-like love of the poor. Manley made great strides in education and literacy, he ensured the poorest among us could own proper housing, he is to be credited with equal pay for men and women, maternity leave, abolishing the bastard laws and a host of other sweeping social changes which significantly changed the face of Jamaica. He was the people’s Prime Minister. On the other hand was Seaga, seen as a tyrant who was intent on gaining power through violence and an intimidatory style of politics. He is blamed for creating what a former Commission of Police styled “the mother of all garrisons”, Tivoli Gardens. I’m not suggesting that this characterisation of the former PM is true, I’m just saying it existed. Seaga signalled a class shift in the JLP. He was the picture of wealth, a white man who was born in a foreign country. He took the party well away from the vision of Busta and Shearer and into a more clearly defined capitalist frame. This contrasted heavily with Manley’s populist and socialist message. It was foreign to the poor. Seaga did the JLP a great disservice by remaining as the party leader as long as he did, the party now finds it hard to escape the perception he had created in the 1980’s. The JLP came to be seen as the party of wealth and privilege and the PNP came to be seen as the party of the poor. I believe the perception persists to this very day.

No one understands that perception more clearly than The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller. Come Tuesday I expect the Prime Minister, in her usual maternal and emotionally charged style, to announce that she has heard the cries of the poor and that “she” has rolled back the ‘cruel and uncaring’ tax package unleashed upon us by the insensitive Phillips. It will be a classic Portia moment. Mama saves the day. A good mother protects her children, right? I see little chance that these taxes will stand. If they are allowed to, Simpson Miller will go down in history as one of the worst hypocrites to ever sit in Jamaica House, every bit as ‘deceptive and cruel’ as former Prime Minister Golding, she will not allow this. The love affair with the poor must be maintained, if the Prime Minister knows nothing else, she knows this. Still, if this roll back occurs it will demonstrate the extent of the pettiness and immaturity of our leaders. The fact that the Prime Minister might use something so serious to gain personal political mileage is an alarming and worrying development. Even more worrying is the realisation that the government may have to borrow excessively to fill the gap if she rolls back the taxes. Sparing us from the bitter medicine may be to our own detriment. We must be very vigilant and ensure we hold her to task if this happens. We wait to see.

The love affair with the PNP has done Jamaica more harm than good. This country has known more PNP governments, than it has known JLP ones. In fact, in the last 40 years the JLP has only won two (2) General Elections, excluding the snap election of 1983, once in 1980 and again in 2007. Jamaica’s social, political and economic problems must then clearly be the fault of the ruling party. They held the reins of power the longest. Have we made any significant strides? We find ourselves crippled by debt, crime, illiteracy and poverty – problems which took flight under the watch of P.J. Patterson. While speaking to a veteran PNP supporter today, she admitted as much. She told me she would never publicly declare that the PNP has wrecked the country, but that she knew it was true. She looked at me and told me “I can’t say it publicly, but to thy own self be true.” An awkward silence followed. Have we, as Jamaicans, been true to ourselves? Or have we allowed the People’s National Party (PNP) to take us along for a ride?

Finally, the love affair is in danger of ending. By over promising in the 2011 General Election, the PNP will find itself scorned when it cannot fulfil these promises. The Manley luck is fast running out. Our people are now more familar with the lies, incompetence and mismanagement of Percival James Patterson than they are with Manley’s good deeds. The PM’s own political capital is expiring. Be warned Madam PM, your lover grows restless. When a lover is so abused, as your party has abused the Jamaican people, there will come a time when that lover says ‘enough’ and walks out the door. The lover need not be afraid, waiting is a younger, more vibrant option – the Andrew Holness led JLP. What kind of relationship will that be like? And will we ever truly marry the idea? Can Andrew be the ‘stulla’ Jamaica has been yearning for? Only time will tell.

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19 responses

  1. Comrade Smitty

    This is a DAMN good blog post. Very accurate, except for 1 or 2 historical inaccuracies. I definitely loved this blog, it was smartly constructed and got to the truth & points about a very deceptive PNP & the Jamaica that loves their abuse.

    June 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm

  2. Sharpe

    Good article, except I am not sure if Andrew Holness and the JLP is ready to take up the mantle of a change political culture that Jamaica needs. Is Holness really different from the deceptive, dishonest gang that has created our problems? Or are we just swapping black dog for monkey each time we change government?

    June 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm

  3. Nice article. Have to share this one.

    June 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm

  4. Good article. Will share this one…

    June 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  5. Deloris

    The damage has already done, the trust is gone from the PNP

    June 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm

  6. Krylfenty

    Just a point of information; the JLP won both the 1962 and 1967 elections under Sir Alexander Bustamante and Donald Sangster (who died and was replaced by Hugh Shearer) along with the 1980, 1983 (emergency election) and 2007 (as you previously mentioned). I just wanted to clear that up.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:56 am

    • Thanks for the correction. That was an error, I have since corrected it. I had intended to say “in the last 40years”. I did not count the first decade after independence. Thanks a lot though.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  7. Reblogged this on Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ the butterfly beat Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ.

    June 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

  8. I absolutely agree with you! Jamaicans are downright hypocrites!The JLP is always heavily criticized for there political management of the country while the PNP is allowed to slip through the cracks!People really need to wake up out of their hypocritical daze and face the reality!I’m not saying voting JLP would’ve been better, but if you really love poor people, would you really tax patties,even books?Only if you want to keep the masses dunce which is what I assume the PNP govt is doing!

    June 4, 2012 at 1:09 am

  9. Manley was seen as a champion of the poor, a leader who loved the working and lower classes, but not only did he love them, he wanted to see them uplifted – a much different arrangement than the one which obtains under Simpson Miller’s token-like love of the poor. Manley made great strides in education and literacy, he ensured the poorest among us could own proper housing, he is to be credited with equal pay for men and women, maternity leave, abolishing the bastard laws and a host of other sweeping social changes which significantly changed the face of Jamaica.

    I am afraid that the real problem with Jamaican people and the PNP is shown in that above quote. The social changes that were created by him were sweeping, but they relied on economics that were quite simply not based on things like “reality” and “common sense.” For now, let’s ignore the Gun Court and Suppression of Crime Acts, putting the opposition in detention and that little incident at Green Bay, so that we can see how the PNP has been short changing Jamaica.

    When Manley overstretched the budget because he thought that he sell bauxite forever, and on top of that try create an OPEC for bauxite, he was just being silly. When he started locking up people with camera trials for having one spent shell, he was just being cruel. When he had to go on bended knee to the IMF , he was just being pathetic. But for all his silly, cruel and pathetic behaviour, when you heard him speak and saw that twinkle in his eye, you knew one thing – he meant well.

    Then 1988 happened. Manley and the rest of them went from helping poor people (fallacy of good intentions) to turning the PNP into a machine for winning elections (run-wid-it cynicism). The problem with the PNP is that at the end of the Cold War, with communism defeated, they had nothing to believe in, so they took the deal the IMF was selling , and shoved it down all our throats. Jamaicans need to stop jumping up and smiling every time some politician chats some crap about poor people. Th poor are irrelevant and “helping” them does more harm than good. The only thing left is to do the damn thing – say that we aren’t paying back the principal on our debt, let the rating agencies label us as “junk” and go to the private markets. That’s all that’s left to do at this point.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

  10. Karen

    Think about it! PNP love the poor thats why they tax text books. They are trying to keep the masses poor and illiterate so they can continue to peach….. love the poor for more votes

    June 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

  11. Think about it! PNP love the poor thats why they tax text books. They are trying to keep the masses poor and illiterate so they can continue to peach….. love the poor for more votes

    I LOLed.

    June 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

  12. Pingback: We are all PNP (Personal National Party) members now!! | Slouching Towards Kingston

  13. Butty Scott

    Jamaica love de pnp because despite price increases ..many ppl , whater p s will benefit from thir tangible programs …ex a roof ova dem head

    June 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm

  14. Pingback: Jamaican peolpe | Yourcomfortcaf

  15. Sometimes I wonder if the Westminster “first past the post”style of politics is still suitable for modern Jamaica. To break the 2 party stranglehold on parliament maybe some form of proportional representation could be brought in to shake things up.

    June 26, 2012 at 7:43 am

    • I agree with you, totally. The first past the post system encourages the tribalism and partisan standard we see in parliament right now. It’s really sad.

      June 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

  16. Pingback: Jamaica Blog Awards 2012 | Jamaica Blog Awards Finalists 2012

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