Sunday Brew — March 14, 2021

What’s the state of the PNP now?

It has become fashionable to highlight one’s achievements after his assumption of office in the first 100 days. But for People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding, more than 130 days have now slipped by without fanfare.

You can put it down to the novel coronavirus pandemic if you wish, but the muted reality is not something that I think the PNP would have bargained for.

Mind you, we have heard mutterings here and there from Golding, but from what I have been picking up from party supporters he has been much too quiet.

One of the projects that Golding had taken on was meeting with representatives of the PNP in some parishes, until the wings of that got clipped by COVID-19.

Things still remain tense between those who supported him for president and those who backed Lisa Hanna, although there have been a few meetings to try and reduce the tension.

What I found interesting is the appointment of Ian Hayles as national organiser, when Hayles could not coordinate things in Hanover Western, and continues to earn criticism for his supposed divisive style. It is also understood, too, that Joan Gordon Webley has been chosen as coordinator for Region Three, which, if true, cannot make any sense.

What Golding needs to do now is sit and pencil out potential candidates for all 63 constituencies, and work towards getting them settled in. The focus must be on getting people from the communities to represent the constituencies in which they live, or have roots, instead of importing people from all over to fill slots.

So, for example, he would not go for a Wavell Hinds again to try and represent the people of Hanover Eastern, when Hinds could fit into St Catherine South Eastern, where he is from, and has clout.

There are bright and qualified university graduates in constituencies like St Mary South Eastern, Westmoreland Central, St Andrew East Central, St Andrew West Central, St Andrew Eastern, St Ann South Western, Kingston Central and many others, who have the potential to represent their community folk, which was how the system was designed originally.

It makes no sense to have someone live in St Andrew and represent people in Westmoreland or Hanover, unless that representative has been named to the Cabinet.

When it comes to the party’s public relations matters, it seems that there has been a reduction in the regularity of news releases coming from the office of the Leader of the Opposition, but what I found really interesting occurred when Bunny Wailer died on March 1 and former party President Dr Peter Phillips issued a news release through Jenni Campbell a full two hours before Golding’s office dispatched one.

That tells me that there was no coordination, consultation, or communication between both men who serve in the same Parliament and under a similar political umbrella. In addition, the messages coming out of the Opposition leader’s office now are not as polished as those which exited the location up to a few months ago when Jenni Campbell was there.

Unity is still a far way off in the PNP, but there is hope. It was disclosed last week that Councillor Venesha Phillips will be leaving politics soon. What a glorious day that will be for the party. When that ‘soon’ comes, there should be three days of celebration by the PNP, mixed with shouts of hip hip hooray and the popping of champagne corks.

Maybe, just maybe, others, who like her have nothing to contribute, will also take a walk.

Robinson’s realistic budget presentation

Julian Robinson’s maiden budget presentation as Opposition spokesman on finance last Thursday was quite encouraging.

Not only did Robinson make salient points about what the country needs in this time of pandemic battering, but his rebuttal of sorts to Finance Minister Nigel Clarke’s ‘no new taxes’ budget oratory the Tuesday before was something that the ordinary man in Chigwell, Big Woods, or Scott’s Hall could understand with much clarity.

He was quite innovative in displaying a chart in the House of Representatives which traced the prices of some basic food items between 2016 and now, in respect of how much more the suffering majority, which includes me, have to be forking out at sales outlets.

Even the view that a further $21.5 billion should have been added to the budget to make achieving elusive growth easier seemed to have sunk in well from my interactions with people who support both parties represented in the Jamaican Parliament.

You see, Robinson can chastise me all he wants, but he was always wasting his time as general secretary of the People’s National Party. When he was appointed as the party’s spokesman on finance my position was that he would do a fine job of keeping Dr Clarke on his toes, as it was part of his true calling.

Well, like in cricket, Robinson seemed to have got in one short and up under Dr Clarke’s throat in the first official matchup of 2021 last Thursday. Let’s see if the finance minister will fend it off to safety, or push the ball into the hands of the man at silly point when he closes the debate.

The Brathwaite blunder, and Sri Lanka’s spinners

So Cricket West Indies have bowed to stupidity and gone ahead with the appointment of Kraigg Brathwaite as Test team captain over his countryman Jason Holder, and have failed to even negotiate with the right man to captain the team – Kieron Pollard.

Well, let’s hope that it does not backfire, and also, that Holder remains focused as the world’s number-one rated all-rounder. The rush to appoint Brathwaite comes, obviously, because of the refusal of some players to tour Bangladesh earlier this year, and the subsequent triumph of the team by 2-0 in Tests in that country.

Let us also hope that we are not faced with a situation in which Cricket West Indies is forced to drop its captain for underperformance with the bat, as the 32 that he averages from 66 Tests is nothing you would want to celebrate. Take note also of the fact that in the seven Test matches that Brathwaite has led the West Indies, he has averaged 20 with the bat, and has just about the same win average in Tests as Holder. How, too, do you really compare Brathwaite as an opening batsman with Shai Hope and Evin Lewis, for example? No comparison at all.

It also seemed like a joke when I heard that Jamaican Jermaine Blackwood was appointed vice-captain for the Tests. What’s really going on? Blackwood who can be so flippant in his batting has been named as Brathwaite’s deputy? Oh well!

As for the coming Test series against the Asians later this month, those who love cricket will realise quickly that it would be unwise for the curators in Antigua and Barbuda to prepare pitches that are conducive to spin bowling.

The three-match Twenty20 series, which ended in a 2-1 success for the West Indies, showed how penetrative the Sri Lankan spinners can be in the longer format, and anyhow those preparing the pitches are doing so thinking that burly Rahkeem Cornwall will be the trump card, so they will come up with a spinning track, then they would have made a telling mistake, because Cornwall or Jomel Warrican cannot bowl like any of the Sri Lankan spinners.

My advice to them is to come up with pitches that are flat, for anything like the pitches at the Coolidge ground will spin the Test matches Sri Lanka’s way.

Is the police force changing?

There were two incidents that occurred over the last fortnight which convinced me that we have a changing police force.

The individual who took on the police at closed Hellshire Beach in St Catherine and the taxi driver in May Pen who fought off the policeman doing his legitimate job were two lucky souls. Had the incidents occurred 20 years ago, or if Jamaica was not blessed with cellular phones, the national population would have been reduced by two.

The earlier incident in Clarendon summed up the general behaviour by taxi operators, who are the biggest threats to Jamaican civilisation these days. The driver clearly disobeyed police instructions, and got into a physical fight with the law enforcer, even throwing him to the ground.

What surprised me was that the policeman managed to pull his gun from its holster and pointed it at the offender, resulting in the aggressor backing off. Now, that policeman deserves a special award, for that idiot taxi driver could have been killed right there, and from all the evidence, the policeman would have been within his right to shoot him because his life was under threat.

Had I been the policeman in that incident, I would have acted differently. That’s a guarantee. The mission of this political administration must be to flush many of these unruly taxi drivers out of the system. If that is not done, then Jamaica will continue to regress.

As for the man in Hellshire, again, it tells of a huge breakdown of discipline.

Additionally, no one could have his faculties intact and behave like that. In this case, the police behaved with amazing calm, but again, the presence of cellular phones with cameras at the ready, may have tempered their aggression and forced them to do what they should have done from the start – arrest him the first time that they had the opportunity to.

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