Politics in 2020: winners and losers | Loop News – Loop News Jamaica

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In terms of politics, 2020 could easily be described as the year of Andrew Holness and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). For leading the JLP to an epic landslide victory over Dr Peter Phillips and the People’s National Party (PNP) in the September 3 General Election, Holness firmly established himself as the most astute politician in the country. His profile had already been growing internationally in recent years.

Yet, for his handling of Jamaica’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to be lauded around the world, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, could easily be named politician of the year. This is true, even with the Market Me controversy/scandal that threatened to tarnish his reputation and which, any discerning onlooker could see, had ruffled his feathers. Imagine being asked by a reporter during a live televised news conference whether you had cheated on your wife? Tufton’s “none of your business” response is now famous. To his credit, and despite what must have been extremely uncomfortable times for him, Tufton continued to lead Jamaica’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic with distinction and seemingly without missing a beat.  

Despite public opinion polls predicting a massive win for the JLP in the six months leading up to election day, many were still surprised at the JLP’s margin of victory which had not been seen in a generation and never before in the age of social media. The JLP captured 49 seats to the 14 won by the PNP and election night was lit up with choice adjectives such as carnage, wipeout and shellacking even while the votes were still being counted!

The year, which is fast winding to a close, could also be described as the ‘year of the woman in politics’. Eighteen women are now serving in the House of Representatives, a record. Fourteen of the 18 are JLP Members of Parliament, an indication that Holness recruited well.

While the JLP is still basking in its victory, Phillips, the biggest loser on the Opposition side, and the PNP, are still licking their wounds. While Phillips stepped down as Opposition leader and PNP President but remains MP for East Central St Andrew for the time being, his party continues to rip itself apart in public as the infighting has intensified even with a new leader, Mark Golding, at the helm.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett must also receive kudos for the handling of their respective portfolios during the pandemic.

And, like in 2019, crime has once more proved to be the thorn in the flesh of National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, as murders are set to surpass the 1,200 mark once again.

JC Hutchinson and Leslie Campbell are competing for biggest loser on the JLP side, while, Phillips apart, the PNP has a long list of big losers including Peter Bunting, Julian Robinson, Fitz Jackson, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Ian Hayles, Dr Wykeham McNeill and Dr Dayton Campbell.

Loop News presents below its rankings of the best and worst performers in politics in the 2020 year under review:

THE BEST PERFORMERS:

Andrew Holness, Prime Minister leading from the front …

In two election cycles, Holness moved the JLP from a one-seat majority on election night on February 25, 2016 to a 35-seat majority on election night, September 3, 2020.

‘Brogad’, as Holness is affectionately called by his growing multitude of followers, in particular the thousands who follow him on social media, has come a far way since he first entered representational politics in 1997 when he first won the West Central St Andrew seat for the then Opposition JLP. He would remain in Opposition for 10 years before the JLP tasted victory with Bruce Golding at the helm in 2007.

He is now a six-term MP of West Central St Andrew, transforming what was a marginal constituency that leaned PNP into a JLP stronghold.

Holness’ growth as a politician has been phenomenal and anyone underestimating his political acumen do so to their own detriment. 

For leading the JLP to victory in the general election and for his general leadership of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, including on the economic front, Holness gets the nod as the best performing politician in 2020.

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Dr Christopher Tufton, MP, Minister of Health and Wellness is the face of the COVID-19 response…

While the prime minister often takes a lead role in terms of announcing curfews and explaining why it was important for Jamaicans to observe the health protocols as outlined under the Disaster Risk Management Act, Tufton has emerged as the face of Jamaica’s COVID-19 response. In fact, on any day, Tufton and members of his team from the Ministry of Health can be seen in a town or community near you promoting the wearing of masks among other measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. He too is leading from in front.

While he leans heavily on the health professionals for guidance and clarification, Tufton often warns and sometimes even appears to lecture. He would rather use moral suasion though to get Jamaicans to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19. His singular aim is keeping infections, hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 to a minimum in order to ensure that the country’s health infrastructure is not overwhelmed. Jamaica and the rest of the world are nearly 10 months into the once in a century pandemic and like the rest of the world, Jamaica potentially faces its most challenging period yet – the Christmas holidays and beyond. How Tufton and the government lead Jamaica through this critical phase will determine his final grade when the pandemic is finally behind us. For now, he has done well.

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Dr Nigel Clarke, MP, Minister of Finance setting the stage for economic recovery…

For being proactive in crafting a multi-billion dollar relief package, the largest in Jamaica’s history, even before the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic began to take effect, Clarke, continues to demonstrate that he is easily one of the best-performing finance ministers Jamaica has seen. The so-called ‘CARES programme’ has since been patterned by other countries throughout the region.

Clarke’s steady hand and calm resolve under pressure during deliberations in the House of Representatives is a plus. He continues to demonstrate that he is firmly in charge of the purse strings and will not be tempted to be reckless, as he aims to strike a balance between continuing to spend on capital projects like major road infrastructure in order to stimulate economic activity, while pulling back where possible and necessary. He has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of doing anything that will overturn the hard won economic gains Jamaica has made over the past six years.

Clarke has ensured that the necessary funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are in place and he has, over recent weeks, presided over amendments to major legislation including the Bank of Jamaica Act and has introduced legislation to establish an Independent Fiscal Commission. This, Clarke noted, will set Jamaica firmly on the path to economic independence.

Edmund Bartlett, MP, Minister of Tourism remaining resilient …

The local tourism sector had been growing by leaps and bounds, setting record after record in visitor arrivals and earnings over the past few years under Bartlett’s leadership. It was poised for further growth in 2020 until the coronavirus hit, throwing over 100,000 Jamaicans out of work and putting a huge dent in the government’s coffers.

Just how would Bartlett, a minister who thrives in the limelight, respond? Forever the optimist, the behind the scenes discussions and actions with tourism interests both local and foreign have resulted in Jamaica welcoming nearly 318,000 visitors between June 15 when the country reopened its borders to international travellers, and December 14. During that time, the country earned US$450 million. Although way off in both arrivals and earnings when compared to the similar period in 2019, Bartlett had this to say while speaking recently in the House of Representatives:

“…But we’re starting from zero, as you know… because for the first time in our history, I woke up one morning and found that not a single visitor came to Jamaica, not a cruise ship arrived, and not a dollar was generated for the craft men, for the transportation people, for the hotel workers, or for anybody. More importantly, we saw 130,000 tourism workers losing their jobs or gone (placed) on two days, one day a week, as the case might be”.

Bartlett was responding to questions from Opposition leader Mark Golding during which he admitted that the numbers since June are way off those recorded for the corresponding period in 2019.

Another plus for Bartlett and tourism interests is that to date, there has not been any reported case of a tourist contracting COVID-19 in Jamaica since the country reopened its borders.

The ‘Resilient Corridors’, where movements by visitors are restricted, have apparently done their jobs.

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Mark Golding, MP, Opposition leader…

After PNP President Dr Peter Phillips announced on election day that he would be stepping down if he lost the election, that paved the way for South St Andrew MP Mark Golding to throw his hat into the ring. He was challenged for the presidency by South East St Ann MP Lisa Hanna, the people’s favourite, according to opinion polls. However, despite starting from behind, on November 7, the party delegates in their wisdom gave Golding the nod by a few hundred votes after the dust had settled.

Golding is, if anything, a reluctant leader. In September 2019, he had thrown his support behind his close friend and business partner Peter Bunting when Bunting challenged Phillips for the PNP presidency, well aware that public polling increasingly showed that Phillips, approaching his 70th birthday at the time, had no chance of defeating the youthful and popular Holness.

Winning the PNP presidency on November 7 and being presented with the Instruments of Office of Opposition leader three days later is a major achievement for Golding and that puts him firmly in the column of best performing politicians in 2020. However, he has his job cut out for him and must quickly gain the respect of all the warring factions inside the PNP if he and the Comrades are to stand any chance of winning elections in the near future. For now, Golding has his hands full trying to put out the fires inside the party which appear to pop up every other day as out-of-control members go at each other publicly, seemingly with very little provocation.

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Year of the Woman in politics…

Women now make up nearly 29 per cent of the House of Representatives, a record.

The numbers in the Senate are even more impressive as they make up a record 38 per cent of the Upper House, a fact noted by Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, during the swearing-in ceremony to mark the start of the new parliamentary term

“This is the largest percentage ever achieved in our history,” Johnson Smith commented.

Half of the members of the Opposition side of the Senate are women. They include two newcomers in business development consultant Janice Allen and communications specialist Gabriella Morris. Two attorneys have returned. They are Donna Scott-Mottley and attorney-at-law Sophia Fraser-Binns.

On the government side, four of the 13 senators are women. They are Johnson Smith, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; attorney-at-law Sherene Golding-Campbell, the daughter of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who was present to see her take the oath of office; Dr Saphire Longmore, who is returning, and Natalie-Campbell-Rodriques who failed in her bid to unseat Natalie Neita in the North Central St Catherine constituency in the September 3 General Election.

Marissa Dalrymple-Phillibert and Juliet Holness are a history–making pair…

Long before 2020, the Jamaican Parliament had a female Speaker of the House in Violet Nielson, who served in previous PJ Patterson Administrations.

The JLP has created its own history as while Dalrymple-Phillibert previously served as Speaker, with the prime minister appointing his wife Juliet Holness as the Deputy Speaker, it marks the first time that both positions are held by women.

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Rhoda Moy Crawford, MP in a massive upset …

Political neophyte, Rhoda Moy Crawford, created what was easily the biggest upset on election night when she beat Peter Bunting, the three-term Member of Parliament for Central Manchester and heir apparent to the leadership of the PNP.

Crawford, an educator, has at least halted Bunting’s career in representational politics although he has since been appointed to the Senate. She prevailed in a seat where others considered more formidable, the likes of former Director of Elections, Danville Walker and former Custos, Sally Porteous, failed.

Crawford received 8,139 votes while Bunting, in what political watchers described as a major underperformance in a once dominant PNP constituency, polled 6,989 votes.

The JLP had been targeting the seat for so long that the biggest round of applause was reserved for Crawford when the new Parliament was sworn in on September 29.

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Tamika Davis, MP, wins comfortably in Western Hanover…

The dominance of the JLP women in 2020 was evident in how easily attorney-at-law Tamika Davis took the Western Hanover seat from three-term Member of Parliament, Ian Hayles.

The newcomer to politics polled 6,028 votes to Hayles’ 4,999.

Hayles has since blamed his loss on divisions within the PNP. For her part, Davis has promised the people of Hanover leadership with integrity.

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Tova Hamilton, MP…

Northern Trelawny was once considered an impenetrable PNP fortress but the JLP’s Tova Hamilton was confident that she would defeat Victor Wright who was seeking a second term as MP. In the end she did so comfortably.

When the final votes were counted, Hamilton who served briefly as a Senator in the last Parliament, defeated Wright by more than 1,700 votes. That was a significant victory margin as while Wright won by only 400 votes in 2016, Hamilton effectively ended the PNP’s 31-year stranglehold on the constituency with her stellar showing.

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Krystal Lee, MP…

Krystal Lee, like her fellow labourites Crawford, Hamilton and Davis, has been singled out not just because they won seats in the general election. They are singled out because of the type of seats they won – either a PNP stronghold, or the type of candidate they defeated – a PNP bigwig. This has put to rest the myth that female candidates are generally placed in seats they cannot win.

Lee dumped two-term MP Dr Dayton Campbell who was expected to retain his North West St Ann seat. Campbell, despite his many controversies, was regarded as a hardworking MP.

Lee’s victory was decisive. She polled 7,821 votes to Campbell’s 5,783.

Her victory marks the fourth occasion on which the JLP was winning in North West St Ann since the constituency was created in 1959, underlining the strong performance of the JLP women in 2020.

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The Charles family exacting revenge …

In 1993, Pearnel Charles Sr lost the Eastern St Thomas seat to the PNP’s Dr Fenton Ferguson in a defeat that ended the JLP’s more than four decades long reign in the constituency. Charles Sr would remain out of representational politics for nearly a decade until he won the North Central Clarendon seat in the 2002 General Election.

In the 2011 General Election, Charles’ daughter, Dr Patrece Charles-Freeman challenged Ferguson for the seat but was defeated. Intent on retaking the seat for the JLP, another of Charles’ daughters, Dr Michelle Charles went up against Ferguson in the September 3, 2020 election. By this time, Ferguson, the self-described six-star general, was looking to make it seven wins in a row. But he was stopped this time by Dr Charles, her father finally exacting revenge on Ferguson who had beaten him 27 years earlier.

It was sheer joy for the Charles family as Michele’s brother, Pearnel Charles Jr, retained the South East Clarendon seat he had won months earlier in a by-election. The family created history as their wins marked the first time a brother-sister pair was sitting together in Gordon House. Having seen his children successfully walk in his political footsteps, Charles Sr, who served as Speaker of the House in the last JLP Administration, finally bowed out of representational politics after more than 50 years, no doubt a proud man.

The biggest losers in Government…

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JC Hutchinson, MP, demoted after becoming embroiled in Holland lands scandal…

Not known for public controversies, it was a surprise for many when then Minister with responsibility for agriculture in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries JC Hutchinson, was stripped of his responsibilities by the prime minister in July. The embarrassing saga that Hutchinson got himself caught in left Holness no choice.

Hutchinson was reassigned to the Office of the Prime Minister and Holness also instructed that the Holland Estate be turned over to the Agricultural Investment Corporation..

The development came after Hutchinson tried for a week to defend himself amidst the scandal, which also involved his common-law wife and son.

Despite his earlier denials, it emerged via a letter that Hutchinson had instructed the Sugar Corporation of Jamaica (SCJ) to transfer at least 1,400 acres of the 2,400-acre Holland Estate in St Elizabeth to Holland Producers, a company in which Hutchinson’s partner Lola Marshall-Williams reportedly held a 50 per cent stake.

The arrangement would see Holland Producers conducting due diligence for a year and as such no lease was to be paid to the SCJ during that period. However, it also emerged that Holland Producers nonetheless charged a lease of $9,000 per acre from the 184 farmers who occupied holdings on the property.

Hutchinson’s son Jason also operated a farm store on the property but Hutchinson claimed he had no knowledge of this. Additionally, Marshall-Williams was also a board member of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, giving rise to claims of conflict of interest and nepotism.

While Hutchinson retained his North West St Elizabeth seat and apologised for his actions, he has effectively been demoted as he now serves as the junior minister in the Ministry of Transport and Mining.

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Leslie Campbell, former MP turned Senator…

Politicians aspire to be in the House of Representatives, not the Senate.

Many thought Campbell, an accomplished attorney-at-law, was quitting politics all together when he indicated several weeks before the general election that he would not be contesting the North Eastern St Catherine seat he had narrowly won in 2016.

He was instead hastily drafted into the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), made a minister and given portfolio responsibility for land after Daryl Vaz had his own missteps with the portfolio he occupied in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation based in the OPM. Although North East St Catherine is a tough constituency with many needs from roads to water and jobs, Campbell’s detractors insist he ran away from representational politics ostensibly because he was a poor MP.

His replacement, Senator Kerensia Morrison, who had just weeks to campaign went on to inflict a massive defeat on the PNP’s Oswest Senior-Smith, an indication that constituents may just have been fed up with Campbell’s style of leadership rather than with his party. He obviously had no intention of walking away from serving publicly as on September 14 he was drafted into the Senate by Holness and is now the junior minister for foreign affairs and foreign trade.

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Dr Horace Chang, Minister of National Security failed to rein in murders again…

Although a difficult portfolio, National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang has again failed to keep murders below the 1,000 mark. In fact, the murder toll has again surpassed the 1,200 mark in 2020 under his watch.

Regardless of the spin the JLP Administration would want to put on it, several states of emergency (SOEs), were in place, some for two years, up until shortly before the general election and there are now four Zones of Special Operation across the country. It therefore means that the security forces are not putting the kind of dent in the murder figures as the country is hoping for although Jamaicans overwhelmingly support the SOEs.

Chang and the security forces have consistently stated that the SOEs have been successful and need to be reinstated while the Opposition has insisted that the emergency measure has failed to curb the crime monster.

The big losers in Opposition…

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Peter Phillips, MP, former Opposition leader…

When Peter Phillips beat back the challenge of Peter Bunting for the presidency of the PNP in a bitter contest in 2019, Loop News in its year-end critique of the best and worst performers in politics in 2019 noted that Phillips had won that contest but questioned whether he could go on win the next general election. That answer has now been answered in the resounding defeat Phillips suffered at the hands of the JLP on September 3.

For more than a year leading up the general election, Phillips struggled to unite the increasingly fractious PNP as the infighting among members constantly spilled over into the public space.

Lacking charisma and having no appeal among young people, pollsters had warned for six months that the PNP would suffer a massive defeat at the hands of Holness and the JLP, the likes of which the country had not seen in 30 years. Phillips brushed those predictions aside especially after he narrowly defeated former Central Manchester MP Peter Bunting, in what was the most bitter and divisive presidential campaign for the PNP. The divisions and the nastiness of the rhetoric among members as they went at each other, were amplified on social media. Phillips was helpless to rein in his ONEPNP backers while Bunting seemed similarly clueless to curb the worse tendencies of his RISEUnited supporters who were determined to vent against their opponents in public.

On September 7, 2019, Phillips beat Bunting on the latter’s 59th birthday but by just 76 votes. The closeness of the race was proof that the Opposition party was hopelessly divided and would not be a factor in the upcoming elections. The discerning electorate saw right through the pretence at party unity following the bitter presidential campaign and, according to pollsters, had made up their minds at least six months before election day that they would be voting for the JLP.

Even so, the experienced politician and scholar that he is, Phillips made things far worse for himself and the PNP on the morning of the election when he was asked what he would do if the PNP were not successful at the polls. Remember that people were still casting their ballots yet Phillips made a rookie mistake.

Every other party leader before Phillips – Edward Seaga (who lost many elections), PJ Patterson, Portia Simpson Miller and Michael Manley among others would have convinced the reporters that it was still early and that they in fact expected to be victorious at the end of the day.

But, inexplicably, Phillips told the reporters that if he lost he would step down as both PNP President and Opposition leader! The response was shocking for many journalists and comrades alike, with some likening it to a war time general surrendering while abandoning his troops in the midst of battle. What unfolded on election night left Phillips with no choice but to throw in the towel and he will be reflecting for a long time about why he never allowed the much more likeable Bunting to assume leadership of the PNP. The PNP would still have lost the election but the carnage may have been less. Phillips’ legacy as a high-performing minister of government in several PNP administrations has been tarnished by what many now view as his stubbornness and selfishness. “He thought he had a right to be prime minister,” one comrade commented as the embers from the election night damage started to cool.

In the end, Phillips, like other politicians before him, came across as selfish when six months of opinion polls said he would be soundly beaten, that he did not appeal to young voters and that he failed to unite his party. He has gone down in history as the only PNP President not to head the government.

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THE PNP…

After Phillips, the PNP, a once highly regarded 82-year-old political organisation was the biggest loser in politics in 2020. The party of Norman Manley, of the intellectuals and ostensibly the party of poor, working class Jamaicans has lost its way big time.

How does one explain the PNP losing the 2016 election by a single seat in 2016 to lose four years later by a staggering 35 seats in 2020. Such margins of victory have not been seen since Patterson’s PNP defeated Edward Seaga’s JLP 52-8 in 1993 and 50-60 in 1997.

Based on numerous interviews and comments since, the voting public had obviously grown tired of the PNP and viewed the party and many of its longstanding MPs as non-performers who were only concerned about winning. In the four years since Holness led the JLP to victory in 2016, Jamaicans have come to see both him and the JLP as performers.

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Peter Bunting, Senator, former MP…

The only thing that can compare for Bunting in terms of the loss he suffered to newcomer Rhoda Crawford for his Central Manchester seat on election night, is the defeat he suffered a year earlier on September 7, 2019, his 59th birthday, when he narrowly lost his challenge for the presidency of the PNP to Phillips by just 76 votes.

Despite his seat being repeatedly targeted by the JLP, and despite the massive swing towards the JLP, Peter Murcott Bunting was expected to win a fourth term in Central Manchester, a PNP bastion. He obviously did not take the threat seriously from the newcomer, a 32-year-old educator.

After it was obvious that she was beating Bunting by more than 1,000 votes on election night, Crawford immediately became a celebrity of sorts. She poured cold water on Bunting’s dub plate which he used in his campaign about ‘Stunting with Bunting’ and ‘coil thick like dumpling’ as being way out of touch with the suffering of the people on the ground.

Whatever the reasons for the Bunting loss, no doubt the analyses will continue for a long time to come. The fact is that it was the biggest shock on election night after the shellacking handed to the PNP which saw the party’s veteran bigwigs falling like dominoes. The PNP was expected to lose and Bunting was seen as a shoo in to take over the party. He was stopped dead in his tracks as he was now on the outside looking in. While he now sits in the Senate, his influence has waned considerably. How he acquits himself in the Senate and whether he contests a by-election for the East Central St Andrew seat soon to be vacated by Phillips is left to be seen.

What is obvious is that Bunting’s star has dimmed after being stunted by Crawford.

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Julian Robinson, MP, former general secretary…

No commander-in-chief of any armed forces can be solely blamed for a defeat in battle. The generals you surround yourself with must share equal blame and, in some cases, even more blame than the commander, depending on the advice they dish out.

As good a Member of Parliament as he is, and there is no question that he is one of the best among the 63 in the nation’s Parliament, Robinson did not distinguish himself in the general secretary role. There were signs of trouble after Robinson presided over two by-election defeats in East Portland and South East St Mary which moved the Parliament from a one-seat majority in favour of the JLP to a five-seat majority. The momentum was now firmly with Holness and the JLP and the PNP never recovered. Also, the JLP did a better job of recruiting candidates.

Robinson comfortably retained his South East St Andrew seat as his constituents are pleased with his work and he is one of the most decent politicians in the country with not a whiff of scandal surrounding him. He has now been assigned duties as PNP spokesman on Finance, Planning and the Public Service in Golding’s shadow cabinet and many expect that he will acquit himself well in his new role.

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Fitz Jackson, MP…

The former shadow minister for national security did not get a place in Golding’s new shadow cabinet. As the chairman of the party leading up to the election, Jackson, like Robinson must share equal blame for the loss with Phillips. Regardless of how close he was to Phillips, and Jackson indeed was/is close, he should have tried to influence Phillips in a different direction when it was obvious he could not lead the party to victory.

Many are astounded that so many seasoned politicians allowed themselves to be led as lambs to the slaughter.

In the case of Jackson, who is also regarded as one of the best MPs on either side of the aisle, he retained his South St Catherine seat but by a significantly reduced margin and that must be a major sign of worry for him going forward. Being left out of Golding’s shadow cabinet should give him time to reconnect with constituents and rebuild his base support which deserted PNP candidates right across the country.

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Dr Fenton Ferguson, former MP…

The self-styled six-star general who had made the constituency of Eastern St Thomas his own fiefdom since he ousted the veteran Pearnel Charles Sr in 1993, was aiming for seven straight wins but came up woefully short. A decent, well loved man, the dental surgeon was said to be found wanting on a major front depending on which of his former constituents you were speaking to.

They felt neglected, that they were taken for granted, that after 27 years in charge the constituency was woefully underdeveloped. That was the common theme in PNP-held constituencies right across the country. “Wi tired a di non-representation” some comrades chanted before and after the election debacle.

Ferguson got a good run, if not for his constituents, certainly for himself. Only he knows what the next chapter in his life will be.

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Dr Wykeham McNeill, Horace Dalley, Luther Buchanan, Ian Hayles, Dr Dayton Campbell, Michael Stewart, Basil Waite all badly beaten…

What these seven former PNP MPs and one aspirant have in common is that they all held what were considered some of the safest seats in the country in either party. In the case of Waite, he was expected to win in North East St Elizabeth after one-term MP Edmon Redmon, who never seemed to have the appetite for politics, decided not to seek re-election. But the PNP dominance in the seat was expected to continue, however, Waite was thwarted in his bid to enter Gordon House.

In Westmoreland, which was considered PNP country, McNeill was expected to easily retain his Western Westmoreland seat, so too Luther Buchanan in Eastern Westmoreland although there were early indications that Vaz was in trouble in Central Westmoreland. In the end it was a wipeout for the PNP in what was one of their strongest parishes for decades; such was the nature of the JLP tsunami that hit the party.

Campbell did work in North West St Ann but the JLP tide was too much, so he too got swept away. His high profile and controversial nature inside the PNP meant he would have taken his defeat badly especially that it was acknowledged that he was a performing MP. Michael Stewart, a former President of the Jamaica Teachers Association never distinguished himself in a single term in the House and gave up a PNP stronghold without a fight.

Some persons would have sympathy for the affable North Clarendon MP, Horace Dalley, but he too fell short, reportedly because of under performance in the constituency. As for Ian Hayles in Western Hanover, many, including in his own party were reportedly put off by his leadership style with one disgruntled comrade describing Hayles as “more talk than substance”.

Lisa Hanna, MP, former PNP treasurer….

The former Miss World (1993) held on to her South East St Ann seat previously held by the legendary Dr Ivan Lloyd and Seymour ‘Foggy’ Mullings but only just – by a mere 31 votes. She just avoided being swept up in the JLP tidal wave.

Despite her slim margin of victory, the fact is that Hanna was one of just 14 PNP MPs to stave off defeat and, although she is seen as a polarizing figure inside the PNP, she soon let her leadership ambitions known when she challenged for the presidency of the party. Public opinion polls showed she was more popular than her challenger, Mark Golding. In the end, Golding prevailed by a few hundred votes as delegates gave him the task of uniting a party that seems unable to do anything more than tear itself apart in public as comrades continue to point the finger at each other.

At 45 years-old, Hanna’s future in politics is bright providing she can shore up her South East St Ann base. She should be in the leadership ranks of the PNP going forward.

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Norman Horne, former PNP treasurer…

The businessman would have lost a lot of respect in the eyes of the Jamaican public over the way he handled his recommendation for his appointment to the Senate by outgoing President, Dr Phillips, and the fact that he is owed millions by the party. The less said about an incident that has played itself out over the past two weeks, the better, but Horne’s future in the party, if he even wants to remain a member, looks doubtful.

ADDENDUM

The paradox of the September 3 General Election is that the Jamaican people were both big winners and big losers.

Jamaicans were big winners in that they voted overwhelming for the party of their choice – the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) – giving it 49 of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives. The People’s National Party (PNP) secured just 14 seats.

On the other hand, Jamaicans were also big losers as just a mere 37 per cent or just over 703,000 eligible electors on a Voters’ List of more than 1.9 million people bothered to cast a ballot as voter apathy becomes more entrenched in the society.

In what has so far been the lowest voter turnout in the country’s history, the JLP secured 57.1 per cent of the vote while the PNP received 42.8 per cent. Some 406,085 electors cast their ballots for the JLP while 304,372 did so for the PNP. The PNP secured over 106,000 fewer votes in 2020 than it did in 2016.

But just who is to blame for the current state of affairs? Is it the nation’s politicians, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica or the Director of Elections, Glasspole Brown and the Electoral Office of Jamaica? Whoever it is, what is obvious is that the situation must be turned around quickly as the country’s democracy is on the line.

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