My winners and disappointments of 2022

My winners and disappointments of 2022 goes as follows

Winners

Globally 

  1. Senator David Pocock (Australia). Pocock, the a Zimbabean-born former Australian rugby union great back row forward, was elected to his adopted country’s upper house in June 2022 as an independent. But in no time Pocock has made a number of significant contributions in the passing of  major Bills. Really impressive in the articulation of his point when speaking to the media and politicians. Rarely do we see a top sports personality transition to frontline politics in such an impressive way.  Rucking brilliant. Still only 34. David Pocock on learning policy and politics as a first-time Senator – The Guardian 
  1. Senator Penny Wong (Foreign Minister, Australia). Outstanding. Appointed in the newly elected Anthony Albanese (Labor Party) administration in June 2022. Wong has in quick fire time managed to present a positive approach to regional diplomacy which was a far cry from her predecessors from the Liberal Party. Has managed to impress the Chinese government that had shut down diplomatic relations with Australia since 2019. Wong recent completed her visit to Beijing.. 
  2. Protesters in the most unlikeliest of countries – Canada, Peru, New Zealand and in authoritarian regimes such as China, Iran, Cuba, Afghanistan, Tunisia and Russia.
  3. Brendan McCullum (cricket coach, England) and Ben Stokes (captain) – The turnaround in England’s form in test cricket has been both refreshing and entertaining under the innovative and win-at-all-cost leadership of these two New Zealand-born giants of the game. Game changer that many other teams will follow their approach. 
  4. Lula (Brazil) –  From prison to president of Brazil once again. Pivotal shift in Latin American geopolitics.
  5. Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu (Israel) – Lazarustic PM. Currently facing the courts over corruption but returned to power leading an even more far-right coalition government,  described by one former senior govt minister as “non-Jewish” and “non-democratic”
  6. Penny Mordaunt (UK cabinet minister) – In January I wrote Mordaunt was someone to watch in 2022 as a possible replacement for Boris Johnson. Came twice within a whisker of doing so. Still had the biggest role of any UK frontline politician – when overseeing the ascension of King Charles – in her new role as head of the Privy Council.
  7. Cassidy Hutchinson (former White House Trump staff) – US Congress hearing into the January 6 riots was going on without much shock and awe disclosures from witnesses. Then the evidence from Hutchinson literally blew the lid off what was really happening in Trump world at the time of the insurrection, especially her revelation of Trump tussling with his own secret service in the Beast.
  8. Lionel Messi (Football, Argentina) – Feet did the talking. Hands finally on the big one in Qatar.
  9. Quinta Brunson (actress, writer, producer, comedian) In “Abbott Elementary” Brunson has created a comedy masterpiece and given co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph probably her best tv role yet.
  10. Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer (Labour activist) – Took on Amazon and delivered the first trade union in the company.
  11. Sydney McLaughlin (Athlete, US) – 50.6 seconds to win the women world championship 400m hurdles was not normal.
  12. Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward (Journalists, Politico, US) – Pulled off one of the great scoops when they disclosed in the spring that the US Supreme Court was on the verge of overturning Roe v Wade.
  13. Runako Celina and Henry Mhango (Journalists, BBC Africa Eye) Their documentary “Racism for Sale” over the exploitation of African children by certain Chinese individuals was cutting-edge reporting.
  14. Doug Ford (Premier of Ontario) Incumbent won an even more decisive majority at the provincial election. 
  15. Christian Eriksen (footballer, Denmark) Suffered a cardiac arrest during a match in June 2021 and many felt his illustrious career was done. Signed for Brentford football club in the English Premier League in January and was key to the club easily avoiding relegation. Now at Manchester United and played in the recent world cup.
  16. Baroness Patricia Scotland (Commonwealth Secretary General) Saw off a devious effort to unseat her. Only to see days later her main schemer – Boris Johnson – fell from grace himself as PM in a most humiliating way
  17. Nicolas Maduro (President of Venezuela) The folly of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made the 14% of the world’s oil reserves in Venezuela appealing once again to the West. The geopolitical shift to the left amongst key Latin American nations (e.g. Chile, Brazil & Colombia) has also eased the external pressures on Maduro. 

Jamaica

  1. Jhaniele Fowler-(Netballer) I think her netball achievements are more appreciated by the Australian media and fans than in her home country. Flawless year of goal shooting.
  2. Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce (Sprinter) SAFP has taken consistent fast 100m running to unparalleled levels. The box office of sprinting in 2022.
  3. Mark Golding (Opposition Leader, PNP) – The stand out local political figure in 2022 despite not having the full active support from some of his frontline colleagues.
  4. Senator Donna Scott-Mottley (Shadow Justice Minister) – Her speech on the government’s endless use of state of emergency measures to fight crime was epic.
  5. Teddylee Gray (Security Guard) Union activist who has taken on the powerful private security bosses head on.
  6. “Sir P” (Politricks Watch) – You Tube Vlogger extraordinaire.  
  7. Taneisha Ingleton (Head of HEART/NSTA) – Elevating vocational training to newer levels for all ages.
  8. Jeanette Calder (anti corruption campaigner) – Holding truth to power with data.

Disappointments, Failings & Disasters

Globally

  1. Liz Truss (Prime Minister, UK) –  Nightmare on Downing Street for 40sh scary days.
  2. Kwasi Kwarteng (Finance Minister, UK) – Lasted even less than Truss. Nose-dived the British economy for generations to come with one diabolical speech.  
  3. British Conservative Party government – 5 PMs in 6 years, 3 in 4 months. 4 Chancellors of the Exchequer in 4 months, 5 education ministers in that same period. 4 Home Secretaries including one who resigned and was replaced one week only to return a week later to the post. Gavin Williamson, Matt Hancock, Michelle Mone, Nadhim Zahawi, Suella Braverman, Neil Parish, Owen Patterson, Chris Pincher, calamitous local elections outcome, corruption, endless resignations and resurrections.. Yet in power still. Maybe they should be in the winners section. 
  4. Scott Morrison (ex Prime Minister, Australia) – After he lost the general election in June it came out that Morrison as PM had secretly sworn himself to several ministerial portfolios without ever informing his colleagues who were in those posts to begin with. 
  5. Ricky Skerritt (Administrator, Cricket West Indies) – Has taken West Indian male and female cricket to even lower depths that was ever possible.
  6. Elon Musk (Twitter) – Paying $44bn for Twitter is bonkers.
  7. Haitian political leadership – Catastrophic 
  8. Boris Johnson (former UK PM) – kmt
  9. Kamala Harris (US Vice President)- Main reason Biden is likely to run again for POTUS?
  10. Western diplomacy and main stream media – Did their utmost for us to focus solely on Ukraine and ignored the atrocities elsewhere e.g. Myanmar, DRC, Haiti, Palestine, Tunisia, Horn of Africa. In March the British government allocated the BBC World Service an extra £4m for Ukraine reporting. Yet the World Service will be cutting 20% of its workforce.
  11. Denver Broncos owners (NFL) Signed Russell Wilson to a 5 year deal worth $240+m of which he is guaranteed $160m! Wilson is currently playing the worst of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Playing worse than even some of the backup QBs.

Jamaica

  1. Lisa Hanna (Shadow Foreign Minister) – Revealed she will be walking away from frontline politics. Then again she walked away long before her announcement with a below average performance since losing to Mark Golding in the leadership race.
  2. Andrew Holness/Horace Chang/Antony Anderson (PM, National Security Minister, Commissioner of Police) – Despite all the restrictions of movement, PR, buzz words, bat signaling to criminals, ribbon cutting and tough talking, their stewardship in the fight against crime and violence is just amateurish and grand standing. I still cannot fathom how Chang has time to juggle his roles as national security minister and general secretary of the JLP.
  3. Peter Bunting (Shadow National Security Minister) – Failed to land any significant political blows on the government’s handling of crime. Not visible enough to connect effectively with the public.
  4. Delroy Chuck (Justice Minister)/Paula Llewelyn (DPP) – We’ve seen folks who have committed serious violent acts only to plead guilty to a lesser charge and “rewarded” with a light sentences.
  5. Lower house female parliamentarians of the JLP – A viral fuzzy video clip went round regarding a domestic violent incident where the alleged aggressor was said to be a politician. A number of JLP female parliamentarians were outraged and voiced their anger about the incident. Then word got out that the alleged aggressor was one of their male JLP parliamentarians. Suddenly those said female parliamentarians went silent. Even though the alleged aggressor (Mr Wright) was removed from the JLP some of those parliamentarians have since cheered his speeches in parliament. 
  6. Jamaica Cricket Association – Their management of the game is just abysmal and uninspiring.
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The FT’s 25 most influential women of 2022: Here’s my 10

The FT recently came up with a fascinating list of their top 25 most influential women of 2022.

The FT list included Oleksandra Matviichuk, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sanna Marin, Francia Elena Márquez Mina, Mia Mottley, Serena Williams, Sarina Wiegman, Meghan Markle and Billie Eilish. 

https://www.ft.com/content/8428d275-a9ba-46e7-9c39-78b847c5cef7

A few of the FT’s conclusions though were head scratchers. E.g. How can you include Kentaji Jackson Brown, the newest addition to the US Supreme Court, when her Democratic side of the aisle is in the minority to the Conservatives who have a 6-3 advantage and making the most of it?  

My own top 10 in no particular order would be:

  1. Senator Penny Wong (Foreign Minister, Australia) – Since coming to office in June, Wong has shifted her country’s foreign policy from an isolationist bullying position to one that’s won back credibility from her smaller Pacific island neighbours and even earned tentative plaudits from the Chinese government.
  2. Cassidy Hutchinson (former White House Trump staffer) – Hutchinson’s testimonies to the January 6 House committee literally blew up what was really going on in Trump world during the riots. Her revelation that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel from his secret service driver was both laughable and bizarre.
  3. Baroness Patricia Scotland (Commonwealth Secretary General) – Saw off a concerted effort led by then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson aided by smear attacks from media/governments in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Jamaica to retain her position in the role.
  4. Penny Mordaunt (UK Conservative Party cabinet minister) – One of three front runners to succeed first Boris Johnson and the then short lived tenureship of Liz Truss as PM. But was hampered by the smear campaigns from her own colleagues. Despite that setback she performed the biggest and most unique gig of any UK MP for 70 years  – as head of the Privy Council – when she oversaw the ascension of King Charles.  
  5. Amy Coney Barrett (US Supreme Court) – The Donald Trump appointee has been part of the hard conservative wing of the court – whose rulings and hints of changes to come – has led to major shifts to a number of long established social and political issues such as abortion. Coney-Barret has also made decisions that have enraged Trump himself.
  6. Harmanpreet Kaur (Cricketer, India) – Kaur’s leadership and performances for Indian team’s continued an upward and successful progression and even out performed her more illustrious male compatriots in the publicity stakes. One major successful outcome is the upcoming launch of a women’s Indian Premier League in 2023.
  7. Lina Khan (chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission,US) – Has had a mixed year in her mission to prevent big mergers. But the big tech and pharma companies are still keen to win her over with the support of Congress. 
  8. Kate Forbes (the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, SNP (Scottish National Party) Delivered the kind of budget with cuts and freeze to public spending in Scotland that would impress Conservatives at Westminster. Positioning herself to succeed leader Nicola Sturgeon whose wing of the party seems terrified of Forbes growing influence.
  9. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaican athlete) – Her consistency in delivering extraordinary consistent 10.6 seconds times for the 100 metres has made Shelly-Ann the big draw at track meets in 2022.
  10. Margrethe Vestager (Executive Vice President for European Commission) Since 2014 it’s impossible to draw up a list of influential women without including Vestager. Described recently by NPR as “Silicon Valley’s biggest antagonist” in her role as the EU’s top tech regulator. Vestager recently said of Elon Musk’s loosening of Twitter controls over abusive tweets “If you offer your services in Europe, there is a European rulebook. And you should live by it. Otherwise, we have the penalties. We have the fines. We have all the assessments and all the decisions that will then come to haunt you.”.
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Jamaica’s Chronic Violence: Still Paying for the Sins of the Political Mothers and Fathers?

Keith Duncan, banker and current president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), has been quite vocal for some time in his criticism of the 2 main political parties over their failure to quell violent and organised crime.

Duncan is Group Chairman of JMMB Group, one of Jamaica’s leading financial institutions. 

Duncan and his siblings and late mother Joan Duncan (+Dr Noel Lyon) have done quite well for themselves in turning JMMB into a giant of regional banking. 

But Duncan’s constant intervention into the crime debate brings back memories of a period in my childhood during the late 1970s and 1980s that seems relevant today.

My community of Old Harbour – and its immediate environs – was quite a peaceful town where you felt safe and secure. There was much mutual respect and an uplifting community spirit by most.

But things started to change negatively in the community during the mid to late 1970s due to the sudden explosion of political violence driven by some local supporters of the then PNP administration and the JLP opposition. 

Suddenly, some of the older teens and young adults that we all knew well started acting as some self-proclaimed local “guerillas” for both political parties. A habit that was replicated across many working class communities to the embarrassment of law abiding Jamaican residents. 

Some of these “guerrillas” now had easy access to weapons, narcotics and money. Some felt emboldened enough to intimidate their former friends/cumbolos and acquaintances in the name of their political party. 

This new violence changed the community for years to come. It’s never been the same since.

There was a time then where I could not even walk on roads just  5 minutes from home for fear of being attacked. I and many others had no affiliation to any of these 2 parties and thought this change in the behaviour of our former acquaintances were ridiculous, stupid and quite sad.

Things got so scary that popular local events that kept the community together were destroyed. E.g. The local annual community football league tournament suddenly descended into brawls whenever certain teams played each other due to their political loyalties.

During this time then PNP general secretary was Dr D.K. Duncan (father of Keith). 

D.K. was a charismatic, controversial and polarising figure in Jamaican politics who seemed to have become a beacon for some of the young for right and wrong reasons. 

1970s D.K. carved out an image for himself that resembled that of 1960s revolutionary icon Che Guevara 

Yes, D.K. was minister for mobilization during the Michael Manley-led administration but his firebrand attitude riled up his critics (incl. some colleagues) and energised some of his younger supporters to well, think dem is don gorgons.

As kids some of us would criticise these tooled up local supporters for the stupid loyalties they displayed toward the political class. 

Now here’s my point.

On a number of occasions we told some of the young PNP aggressive  supporters hanging around the local constituency daily, that D.K. and the other senior PNP political figures would never allow their own children to engage in this political violence nonsense and idleness that they were prepared to do. Remember now, some of these supporters were teenagers who dropped out of school.

We would tell our acquaintances that D.K. was ensuring that his children were getting the best education while using them as fools. 

The reason why we mentioned D.K.’s name was because he was always in the area and we lived close to the local PNP constituency office of the sitting MP, Ruddy Lawson.

We made similar remarks to their JLP counterparts as well.

Some of these young men felt empowered for having access to all types of illegality. Some felt untouchable as their political affiliation meant they were above the law due to a polticised criminal justice system.

Trade in guns and narcotics thrived from the nearby coastline. Narcotics trade where some so-called pillars of local society were at the forefront.

Warmington vs Duncan I

Around that time there was a legendary politically-charged gun battle in our community that led to life changing moments for some supporters and political representatives.

Some lost their lives and even the current government MP Everald Warmington (JLP candidate then) was shot in the leg. The allegations was said the shots came from a vehicle which included D.K.’s local “body guards”. The Gleaner did a great job in reporting the court case that ensued. But books by the likes of the Edward Seaga (former PM) and others did briefly document this incident.

Baton Passed

Some of the next generation of would-be local gangsters and thereafter looked up to these local badmen due to the power (& wealth) they wielded in community with the blessing of the political class on both sides. Some would feel empowered following the release of Al Pacino’s Scareface.

The torch of violence was passed on to newer and younger fighters who had bigger criminal plans beyond local political-badmanship.

Today, the current crop of political leaders are up in arms at the chronic state of violent and organised crime. But they’ve failed to come clean and acknowledge the damage caused by them and their political ancestors from the 1970s.

During the late 1980s and 1990s both political parties were warned by local and international concerned observers that they needed to remove the criminality within their party before it’s too late and got out of control…. 

where we are today?

Today, in some cases the violent crime in my area and all over Jamaica is scary. Some expert state that the violence is worse than even Haiti. It is amazing how the international media have long moved to ignore covering Jamaica’s crime crisis.

When you analyse the criminal DNA of some of the violent agitators over the past 2-3 decades up to today you can trace it back to relatives or “mentors” who were linked to the political violence of the 1970s and 1980s.

Credit Duncan Inc.

You have to commend D.K. Duncan, Joan Duncan et al for the work they did to turn out children who are exemplary pillars in Jamaican and diaspora society. 

The children of many of the senior political figures  – who were at the heart of the political tussles of the late 1970s onwards –  tended to do well for themselves career-wise. Some became 2nd and 3rd generation parliamentarians. Some went into finance and did extremely well such as Keith Duncan.

Sadly the same cannot be said of some of the former “guerillas” for the political class.

Eldas Upset

Some former guerillas have now told me that in hindsight they felt stupid for being used by politicians and now have zero interest in today’s politics. 

Some are stunned and scared themselves by the level of violence in Jamaica today. “was different in our day” some say “children, elders and women were never targeted”.

Penalties Overdue?

One of the great mysteries of the political violence of the 1970s and 1980s was that not one senior member of the political class was ever sanctioned legally for their part in the incitement of the violence of that era. Just swept under the orange/green carpet.

Some of D.K.’s belligerent behaviour at the time was well covered in the Gleaner newspapers at the time and subsequently in journals and books.

Major Stanley P Ford (ret.) – former member of the security forces – did document a skirmish between his colleagues and Duncan (+ supporters) in his book Core Values: A Soldiers Story

There is been much talk about reparation from Europe for slavery. But Jamaica can hardly blame UK or the US for the crime and violence that has embedded itself since the late 1970s. It’s all our fault. Crime and corruption were twinned and simply go out of control.

Should the PNP and JLP come clean about that period and also pay reparations for sowing the seeds for the violence we are witnessing today?

Yes.

But they won’t. They’ll continue to make a fool of themselves in their pitta patta approach to fighting crime.

Warmington vs Duncan II 

Recently, Keith Duncan – in his PSOJ capacity – rightly called out cabinet minister Warmington for his renking remarks against opposition leader Mark Golding.

It is a sad indictment of today’s Jamaica that we have a government/political system that is happy to stand by and allow Warmington to constantly verbally abuse others in the most disgusting ways.

40 years on Duncan the younger knows that decent behaviour matters to set the right example for the youths.

Now we have the upteenth state of emergency in the same area since 2019. 

Foundation of Criminality

For decades the political class exacerbated and enriched the violent and narcotic gangs in their circle when allocating certain government contracts to their thuggish supporters. All these winning bidders just did was keep most of the funds for themselves and sub-contracted the work to their unqualified cumbolos resulting in shoddy work and an endless vicious circle of corruption, conflict of interest and lawlessness. 

If you are well connected you will get away with a lot of donkey poo.

Recently, Prime Minister Andrew Holness officially opened a new housing development in Old Harbour. What Holness’ advisors would have shielded from his ears was that in the early years of that housing project there were numerous shootings between gangs  who fought for “control” of aspects of that construction site. 

PFF Genalship Fooled Followers

When Ruddy Lawson passed away in 2019, Warmington gave a warm tribute in parliament to his former political rival. One of Warmington’s first comments was that Lawson and him were good friends long before all that tension in the 1970s/1980s and remained so thereafter.

This kind of tribute to a parliamentary rival – who served during the violent troubles – is common practice by both PNP and JLP senior figures.. If only they had shared their friendly rivalry back then and not steered their supporters to take up violence on their behalf.

So when Dr D.K. Duncan died in 2020, Pearnel Charles (JLP) gave him a warm tribute too and stressed how his own mother was adamant that D.K. remained her dentist whatever the political rivalry. [Charles had his own challenges with D.K.’s PNP including being detained (state of emergency) in 1976/77 for 283 days.]

Sowing the seeds of crime whilst remaining political friends allowed both parties to turn a blind eye to the crime that was coming from their outliers.

That is why some of us neutral observers – from the troubles of the 1970s up til today’s out of control crime curse – find it hard to fathom how either the JLP or PNP can fix the crime crisis without dem being honest about their own historic conflict of interests with criminality.

The criminal justice system has been so compromised for decades. One person curses a swear word will be charged but not parliamentarians. Female legislators get into a fit when word get outs that a male politician was involved in domestic violence. But go silent when the fuzzy camera revealed that The alleged perpetrator is one of their own.

Have they completely shaken off the stench of criminality, bad behaviour and corruption from their ranks?

Such a cover-up those political violent sins is one of the reasons why criminality has become the greatest curse to independent Jamaica.

Let’s just hope this current crop of young die hard supporters will keep their political allegiance in moderation and stick to their own children’s priorities as the Duncans et al have done and still doing.

I disagree with Keith Duncan’s support of the JLP administration’s constant use of States of Emergencies (SOEs) to fight violent and organised crime. The way SOEs has been applied shows lack of courage to fight crime in a more systematic and zero tolerant way. For one, the criminal justice system is slow and cumbersome. But more on that in a future blog.

The die hards of yesteryear should have taken heed the words of Fred Locks and other grass roots prophets back in the 1970s. Instead they let babylon fool dem.

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Jamaican Government’s Broadcast Ban on Certain Music, Video, Films etc – Red Herring?

The Broadcasting Commission – Jamaica’s regulator for radio, television and subscriber television service – recently issued a directive for the immediate ban from the airwaves of any material that glamourises illegal guns & drugs, scamming and violence.

The key parts of the media release from the Broadcasting Commission was as follows:

“the Commission now requires an immediate halt to the transmission of

  • any audio or video recording, live song, or speech which promotes and/or glorifies scamming,illegal use or abuse of drugs (e.g. ‘Molly’), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, “jungle justice” or any other form of illegal or criminal activity.
  •  any edited song which directly or indirectly promotes scamming, illegal drugs, illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, jungle justice, or any form of illegal or criminal activity. This includes live editing and original 0edits (e.g. edits by producer/label) as well as the use of near-sounding words as substitutes for offensive lyrics, expletives, or profanities.

To be clear, the broadcast of a sampling of any song which promotes or glorifies scamming, illegal drugs (e.g. ‘Molly’), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, “jungle justice” or any other form of illegal or criminal behaviour is strictly prohibited.”

The directive sent shock waves across the local media and media circles. The announcement even made headlines as far away as News Zealand.

I found the media release a bit weak in detail. It would have been better for all if the Broadcasting Commission had issued the directive and on the same day held a press conference to clarify any media concerns. 

Was the media release issued while its Executive Director was overseas?

There was a mixed response in the Jamaican music industry to the directive. Some felt the move was a restriction on artists from making such music. Far from it. 

Some felt this directive was long overdue and too late. I can see the reasoning behind this move but clarity is needed.

Cordel Green (in Geneva at the time of release?), Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission said in a phone interview on Power 106 that this directive is all about monitoring the broadcast media houses and not targeting musicians. Green confirmed that if there is any breach of the directive it will be the media house that will be sanctioned and not the artists.

How does audio/video glamourising scamming work, violence and drugs in the way the Broadcasting Commission sound and look like? 

“Glamourising” sounds too confusing a word to describe whatever the musicians are portraying that has irked the regulators. Give examples Mr Green.

Take scamming for example.

Scamming in today’s Jamaican folklore is concentrated on those locals and their co-conspirators overseas getting unsuspected Americans to give up their money through various dodgy means. Proceeds from this Nigerian-inspired caper have allowed local criminals gang culture to thrive and enhance the violent carnage we are witnessing in today’s Jamaica.

But scamming is more prominent and wide scale than just this modern violent phenomenon. What about songs where artists sing about being ripped off by politicians, government, big business, babylon, public utilities and even loved ones (e.g. land)?  Aren’t those forms of scamming?

Some of the best and realest historians on Jamaica since independence have come from the streetsl.

So are TV dramas or short videos that include plots relating to violence, drugs or illegal guns also banned from the airwaves and local tv transmission? 

Does this mean the edited version of The Sopranos (considered the best TV drama ever made) and recently aired on CVM is now a no-no? 

The Wire is my favourite TV drama series of all time. Its main themes include violence, narcotics, gangs and political corruption. 

Would the BroadcastingCommission class The Wire as unsuitable for TV (with the obvious deletion of certain strong language)? Shame if it does.

Does this media directive affect the showing of the gun scenes from the “The Harder They Come”? 

We all know this directive is all about watering down the so-called influence of Jamaican dancehall artists on young people turning to crime. If that is the case Broadcasting Commission then just say so and stop going around in circles. 

But let us be really honest here. The directive probably affects only a handful of the 25+ local radio stations as dance hall music is hardly played on most stations to begin with. The majority of radio stations these days  are speech or Christian related and a few others that would play reggae or sanitised dancehall music in any grand way.

Way in my Brain? 

Like I say the directive needs to be more succinct. 

E.g. Just giving Molly as the sole example of illegal drugs is too vague. 

Doesn’t illegal drugs also mean the likes of ganja, cocaine, heroin, crack, pills? 

Despite the decriminalisation of ganja the last time I looked, people are still getting arrested for farming or exporting the product on a medium to grand scale. 

That is why the Broadcast Commission should  have given some examples of the kind of songs, videos, and films that are banned from the media platforms under their remit. 

Is the ban against modern dancehall music alone or does it include songs from yesteryear? 

Are the following local songs banned from radio?

  • “Gunman” by Michael Prophet
  • “Dem a Lick Shot” by Tristan Palmer
  • “Under mi sensi” – Barrington Levy
  • “Prison Oval Rock” Barrington Levy
  • “Collie Weed” – Barrington Levy
  • “Sinsemilla” – Black Uhuru
  • “General Penitentiary” – Black Uhuru
  • “Youthman Penitentiary” – Edi Fitzroy
  • “One Draw” – Rita Marley
  • “Buk-in-Hamm Palace” – Peter Tosh
  • “Informer ” – Lady Ann

Procol Harum”s  “Whiter Shade of Pale” is a 1960s pop classic that gets played on the more straight ahead radio stations occasionally because of hits haunting organ driven rhythm section. But many would say that song is about cocaine!!

How about Wayne Smith’s classic “Sleng Teng” which created a whole new sound in Jamaican music in the mid 1980s? Coke again!!

No Broadcast Ban pon Warmington Trace?

Maybe the authorities are covering their ears on the streets because the language and actions coming from some children would make some of the current local artists squirm in disgust. Those young people that the govt is trying to help with this directive are not getting bad habits from the airwaves but from home, on the streets and their peers. Online too.

Immediately after the directive was issued the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration explained that the move by the Broadcasting Commission was about bringing back “decency” to the society.

What you saying? 

That statement was laughable given the behaviour that same week by government minister Everald Warmington who launched an incredulous outburst in parliament against opposition MP Anthony Hylton. If local music artists behaved in the same disrespectful public manner that Warmington usual does then their music would never even get released much less airplay and dem US visa canceled.

Since then Warmington has surpassed himself in the indecent utterance stakes when he launched a renking rant against opposition leader Mark Golding. Remarks that was followed by the usual “it wasn’t me”muzzlement  from the government and senior JLP figures. 

I’ve long said it is pompous of JLP to lecture anyone on good behaviour when they are happy to endorse Warmington’s constant deplorable outbursts at every turn.

So how can the government turn around and lecture others on decency?

Man in Black

Many Jamaicans have long had strong affinity with country and western music. That music has had a strong influence on Jamaican music, including dancehall.

We know some C&W songs feature stories relating to guns. E.g. Johnny Cash songs “Devil Right Hand” and “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” or Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron”

Where is the Broadcasting Commission on this? Are they banned?

What if Popcaan or Shenseea release dancehall  versions of those above-mentioned C&W hits? Will it be banned from the local airwaves?

That’s the thing about imposing bans against creative output without being absolutely clear who the authorities is targeting.

Broadcasting Commission should have called a press conference when issuing this new directive. 

But if this radio ban is about certain Jamaican-only music, on those above-mentioned topics, then the Broadcasting Commission should just say so as to avoid any confusion. 

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Proportionally, Does Jamaica Need up to 100 MPs?

Recently, within the Jamaican parliament chambers, there have been concerns raised by some members of the lower house (Members of Parliament) over the tardiness of some of their colleagues. 

Similar concerns have long been raised over the attendance record of member MPs at select committee hearings. 

But the concerns that MPs seem to be in total agreement over are the “poor‘ salary they earn and the lack of adequate public funds to meet the needs of their constituency duties.

Then it dawned on me. 

Maybe there are too few MPs to deliver on the expectations of their constituents in addition to their parliamentary duties.

There are currently 63 MPs in Jamaica’s parliament. Between 1976 and 2007 there were 60 MPs and 53 MPs in 1972. The lower house in 1944 had 32 members.

Today, Jamaica’s population is said to be approx 2.8 million (1976, population 2 million) but locals know this is a gross underestimation of the true figure. Even with the upcoming census we all know that the updated data has to be taken with a pinch of sea salt.

But when you look at some other nations with a similar population and a democratic electoral system you will see that their lower houses have far more MPs than Jamaica.

  • Lithuania (pop. 2.7m) has 141 members in the lower house (71 members elected in single-seat constituencies and 70 members elected by proportional representation)
  • Uruguay (pop. 3m) has 99 members in the lower house chosen by proportional representation.
  • Albania (pop. 2.8m) has 140 MPs elected by the party-list proportional representation. 

The area of Jamaica is just over 4200 in square miles but with a population density of 689 per square mile (Uruguay: 52 per sq. mile, Lithuania: 111 and Albania: 251)

With so many ministers required to run the government ministerially it is difficult for the wider Jamaican parliament to operate effectively. They hardly have enough MPs to spread over the various select committees. 

Yes, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) get all the media publicity but there are a raft of other select committees which are not well represented or fully operational.

In the previous parliament when the JLP and PNP initially had a 32-31 membership some select  committees had to include junior ministers which was unwise or probably not even legal. 

E.g. During one session of the PAAC hearing where members questioned senior civil servants from the ministry of education, a junior minister from that said govt department sat in as a member of the committee and constantly cheerleaded his staff .  

Jamaica has had so many serious challenges over the years relating to the likes of violent and organised crime, corruption, unequal education & health system and an economy stuck in neutral since independence in 1962.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People’s National Party (PNP) have been the sole  custodians of the people’s parliament and you could give either an average grade of D- for their overall stewardship.

The public made their feelings known about today’s politics when over 60% of the electorate stayed away from the 2020 general election. 

I just think on top of their constituency duties it is impossible to rely on just 63 MPs to get the best outcomes for the citizens.

Many of today’s Jamaican MPs act in their constituents as social worker, financial benefactor, guidance counselor, medical consultant, farming advisor, legal consultant, career development advisor, bereavement counselor, education advisor, childcare advisor, chauffeur, a walking citizens advice bureau and much more. 

But the MPs and their close associates have long been tarnished by a perception of being linked to corruption and the pillaging of the scarce public resources. 

I just think the job of parliamentarians is so immense due to the poor state of the state as well as the sharp increase in population and the growing number of housing developments that has radically changed the shape of many towns and parishes.

The southern parishes of St Catherine and Clarendon have seen rapid surges in housing developments and there is no indication that such housing programmes will be stopping for now. Hence more constituents for the overstretched MPs.

I would not be surprised if in 10 years time St Catherine (incl. Portmore) has a population of over a million.

The increase in the population from 2 million in 1976 to nearly 3 million today is impactful for elected officials and Jamaica’s overall crumbling infrastructure. 

What’s going to happen in a few years’ time when the hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans living overseas decide to return home for good?

The extra million or so warrants serious consideration by the political class to up the number of MPs to meet the demands of such a growing population. Politicians need to think ahead and act from now.

But maybe if all or even 50% of the 100 MPs were selected via some form of proportional representation which could  give smaller political parties or independents a fairer chance of being elected to parliament. 

The least the Jamaican electorate would accept is an expanded lower house of members made up solely of MPs from the JLP and PNP.

The Westminster first-past-the-post electoral system has just not worked to attract a broad spectrum of Jamaicans to parliament. 

The PNP and JLP’s stranglehold on parliament has done a disservice to Jamaica and choked the enthusiasm out of many who would wish to serve but under a fairer electoral system. Many just don’t want to be associated with either of the 2 main political parties.

Such a duopoly winner-takes-all in Jamaica’s politics has simply failed and the powers that be must swallow their ego and take the initiative to come up with plans to attract those who have also abandoned politics.

A form of proportional representation could be part of the answer to attract groups who have played a significant role away from the parliament. E.g. those from environmental, anti-corruption and human rights groups.

So as the Jamaican government moves at pace to construct the new swanky parliament, equal consideration must be given to changing parts of the electoral system to attract more parties and independents into parliament. 

A million more Jamaicans since 1976 means the parliament needs far more MPs. Jamaica has a population density of 688 per square mile and the UK has 701 square miles (Pop. 67m).  

I agree the MPs need better pay and more money for their constituency duties. Then again parliamentarians should have term limits to ensure a regular turnover of elected officials in such a young democracy such as Jamaica.

Give thanks.

More Than 2 Should Play
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All Change at KLAS Sports Radio and CVM Television

In 2022 so far Jamaica’s media landscape has seen 2 major developments.

  1. It was disclosed recently that CVM Television – one of the 3 free-to-air tv stations in Jamaica – was bought by Verticast Media Group  
  2. KLAS Radio -the pioneering sports station in Jamaica – was sold to Florida based Omega Church International Ministries.

CVM’s REBOOT?

Verticast Media Group’s purchase of CVM Television is a welcome move by its CEO Oliver McIntosh who for decades was the main man at the Caribbean based station SportsMax TV. 

Verticast Group had recently acquired the Caribbean media TV rights to some of the more globally popular sports such as the English Premier League (EPL) and the FIFA World Cup 2022. Thus CVM could be an ideal platform to showcase these marque sports competitions in conjunction with the 2 existing channels on the Verticast platform.

This development can only be a positive step for CVM, the wider Jamaican TV industry and viewers which has been dominated by Television Jamaica (TVJ).

CVM has been under the ownership of Michael Lee Chin’s Portland Holdings (AIC Barbados) since 2006 but for some time the TV station has been flagging in the quality of its output. 

Since its inception CVM could be relied on for the high quality of its evening news reports compared to TVJ. CVM’s local evening news was what many Jamaicans would turn to find was what was really happening across their country away from pr from politicians speaking and Kingston only stories elsewhere.

Today, CVM news – despite the efforts of its young excellent journalists – is a far cry from those impressive days when it was must-see tv. 

A few years ago the evening news format was changed significantly into a “lifestyle” format and it led to a high turnover of news readers and a fall off in its news content. 

The CVM bosses had also done away with the popular current affairs discussion programme  Live@7. What ever happened to the popular What A Gwaan?

Today, CVM’s morning and midday news today are literally just a repeat of the evening news broadcasted the night before. Their weekend evening local news output is at times just  an extension of government information news or in other words how many govt ministers’ speeches can they ram into the 15 minutes?

There is nothing innovative coming out of CVM and some of its overseas dramas they show are so out of date.

How many times was CVM  going to keep showing tv old programmes such as “Keeping Up Apperarances”, “Jeffersons”?

The most highly rated local programme on CVM is probably its entertainment weekend programme OnStage.

CVM has been an excellent foundation for young journalists who then have gone on to excel on TVJ, radio and other media platforms. Garfield Burford, one of the many excellent journalists to come out of CVM,  jumped over to public media in Antigua and recently carved out an impressive stint as a cricket commentator. 

Jamaica’s free-to-air  television needed waking up and this move by Verticast is vital for Jamaican viewers. If I was going to advise the new CVM bosses today is to invest in local programming, develop the breakfast programme and enhance the sporting content especially for the weekends. Above all attract the younger viewers.

I’d also suggest acquiring tv rights to some of the excellent black oriented programmes coming out of NETFLIX, BET and mainstream US TV today such as Abbotts Elementary.

KLAS – OMEGA

KLAS Radio has been in operation since the 1990s from its initial base in Mandeville and for some time now in Kingston.

Back then KLAS brought a refreshing approach to broadcasting. Their popular phone-in programmes – hosted by the likes of Wilmot “Motty” Perkins and Winston “Babatunde” Witter –  brought fresh controversial observations to current affairs and attracted new and loyal listeners.  

For the past 2 decades KLAS has dedicated most of its output to sports with some innovative reporting and international alliances. 

But in recent years the sporting output has gradually decreased and by the time Omega took over in July 2022 sports has taken such a major back seat to the new owners influence of gospel based products.

I am disappointed by the decision of KLAS being sold to a company with the intention of reducing its sports output. I am surprised that the media regulatiors allowed this sale to go through under such terms.

Jamaica can ill afford – in these very challenging times of crime, weak economy and brain drain – not to have a radio station dedicated to sport. 

There are quite a few local Christian radio stations and Jamaicans not only love to watch and listen to sports but they love to talk about it;  which was where KLAS Sport 89 proved to be a reliable forum for such discussions.

When KLAS decided all those years ago to go down this mostly sports route I thought it was a brilliant decision. KLAS Sports was unique and it was open minded about its approach to sports media. 

KLAS is the single sports station I’ve known that covers a spread of sports that no other English speaking sports radio station on the globe covers. Over the years Klas covered cricket, football, netball, NFL, boxing, horse racing, tennis, swimming. Plus their live feed of certain major sports events was a godsend. 

In Sean Grant they have a journalist who takes versatility to uncharted levels.

Over the years KLAS would broadcast programmes hosted by the BBC and Talksport (UK) and also ESPN where for a while they had an official tie-up with that popular US sports company.

KLAS’ flagship programme the Sports Desk became more than a sports calling show, it elevated the level of sports debating. Sports Desk – hosted by “Zidane” Matthews and Orville Higgins – drew callers and listeners from across the island and diaspora. 

Sports Desk became like a community centre with some regular callers creating an environment of unity and good vibes. This positive vibe was so moving at times especially whenever one of the regular callers had passed away.  

But egos got in the way, on-air arguments went out of control and Sports Desk  became something of a soap opera and that for me allowed the show to lose some of its identity and focus. Still going though but doesn’t feel the same.

Even some of my christian friends who are into their sports are bitterly disappointed by the demise of KLAS radio and its transition to Omega radio.

Jamaican’s radio industry is very competitive. Then again with over 30 commercial radio stations – on the various media platforms – you could say the industry is saturated for a nation of 3 million people. 

It is hard to fathom how some of these Jamaican radio stations manage to stay afloat but one of the key areas in acquiring advertising revenue is from the Jamaican government. This could explain part of KLAS’ revenue challenges given its former chairman, Alston Stewart, is an ardent supporter of the People’s National Party that has been out of government since 2016.

Government advertising is a major influence on the media’s revenue fortunes today. But the big private companies with strong ties to the government will also have their say on where their PR money goes. 

I would imagine Stewart had canvassed other revenue streams such as crowd funding or investment from sporting industry figures both home and abroad. 

It is really sad that after 3+ decades the KLAS brand is no more. 

KLAS has been one of the most influential stations in Jamaica’s media industry. It has been the career launching pad for numerous young journalists who went to be household names in other parts of the media. Some went on to cover major global events on behalf of major sporting bodies such as World Athletics.

KLAS radio kept the popular local horse racing industry afloat when other radio stations either reduced their interest or simply walked away. 

Horse racing is easily Jamaica’s richest sport and is very popular amongst punters and big business. Some of Jamaica’s political figures are major breeders and owners in the industry.

To me the local racing industry should have invested greatly into KLAS to keep their sport going in a more dynamic and attractive format. Why not have a Saturday morning breakfast show with racing being one of the main topics for discussion and tips.

I just also felt that KLAS should have taken some  business lessons from the Talksport model of commercial sports broadcasting in order to attract more listeners and keep the station fresh. I.e. 

  • greater phone-ins across the day, 
  • Increased coverage of live sport. 
  • local breakfast show, getting people from the sporting industry to co-host. 
  • Greater synergy with the diaspora in the UK, Canada and the US to generate.
  • Extended interviews with sporting personalities past and present
  • Documentaries
  • Collaboration with international sporting media houses and personalities.  

KLAS could have looked to recruit some eager sports enthusiasts in the key diaspora cities to act their contact in those jurisdictions. 

One of the aspects of new media that KLAS failed to embrace early was podcasting. Podcast in sports media took off in the early 2010s and by the time of the pandemic it became a haven during lockdowns for listeners.

Ironically some of the Sports Desk”s regular callers have embraced podcasting and developed their own niche in local sports media.

Even at the height of its popularity KLAS just never got round to maintaining a professional website. Their website was cumbersome and rarely kept up to date. 

Scoreboard was another one of KLAS’ former crown jewels. The interviews that former hosts (incl Paul Wright, Robbie Robinson, Stratton Palmer,) conducted with local and international sporting figures were priceless. Such content that if shared globally with the right media houses could have given KLAS radio greater exposure, revenue and stability. 

KLAS was also too male-oriented with hardly any female presenters and if they did have a female presenter their stay was brief. The phone-ins rarely had female callers (outside of Keisha & Lady G) unlike their rivals.

In radio, one of the most critical slots in the weekday schedule that generates listeners/revenues is the breakfast slot – especially for those listeners getting ready for work. 

I was baffled that KLAS rarely opted for a live breakfast sports oriented show and instead ran the previous day’s episode of Sports Desk.

There was a space for such a breakfast sports show as it would have been unique from the other rival stations whose remit were either politics, light entertainment or gospel.

But I have to say to KLAS thanks for the last 3 decades. They played a most significant part in the development of Jamaica’s strong media infrastructure. KLAS broke new ground with numerous programmes that others followed or snapped up their presenters.

Shame it has ended.

New Beginnings

But no doubt the pandemic would have also had a drastic impact on the revenue fortunes of both KLAS and CVM plus their rivals.

It is a sign of Jamaica’s sustained competitive radio industry that even during the pandemic none of the local stations folded; in fact more players came on board including  The Bridge 99 FM.

With the acquisition of CVM, Jamaica’s free to air programming is likely to go through a revolution which should be good news for Jamaicans and the wider media landscape. TVJ certainly needs some stiffer competition and let’s hope CVM steps up to the game.

But I have to wonder if the former owners of KLAS did ever hold discussions about selling to Verticas. Asking a friend.

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A Carry-On by the Kwasi-Truss Combo sends Tories into Free Fall

When it comes to recent Conservative British prime ministers the current holder, Liz Truss is – within days of taking up the post – worse than her predecessor Boris Johnson (2019-2022), who was worse than his former boss Theresa May (2016-2019), who was so appalling than David Cameron (2010-2016) who stunk Downing Street more than his Labour Party predecessor Gordon Brown (2007-2010) who for me then at time was the worst PM in my time in the British government. 

This long line of British prime ministers with dreadful track records of leading the UK government is continuing at an alarming pace. But Liz Truss has taken incompetence, poor leadership and bone-headed decision making to even lower levels than anyone could ever imagine. It is hard to see Truss turning around her fortunes.

It is indeed disturbing how so often British governments end up with prime ministers who seem to be so out of their depth in leadership and execution of good government policies that benefit the masses.

I have never seen any British prime minister in the past 4 decades start off their premiership so dreadfully as Liz Truss. It’s not even funny how we got there. 

Leadership Selection Flawed 

Something is certainly wrong with the process of how party leaders are chosen and why their time as PM ends up being a disaster. I grant you some new PMs would have had a honeymoon period and a bump in the polls. Not Liz Truss, whose polling numbers sunk to 30 points behind the Labour Party.

Truss won the leadership of the Conservative Party/prime minister after a race that clearly went on for far too long and many observers had switched off by the time Truss was elected in September.. 

The leadership race started with over a dozen contenders down to the final 2 candidates (Truss and Rushi Sunak). Even then you could see little warning signs were there during the hustings that Truss’ incompetence and her tough talking was all fluff. Then again Sunak was hardly a much better alternative.

But a PM Sunak would clearly not have gone down the economic chronic meltdown route that Truss and her Chancellor of the Exchequer (Kwasi Kwarteng) took. Although the economic policies of PM Sunak was never going to be the champion of the working class given some of his off-the-record comments to some elderly Tory members during the leadership campaign.

Then some Tory MPs turned the early stages of the leadership race into a stop-Penny-Mordaunt-at-all-cost plot. This allowed Truss to slip into the final 2 after being behind until the race off for the final 2 candidates.

We’ve never seen a new cabinet start off so disjointed, chaotic, clueless and at each other’s throat. It is hard to see Truss remain as PM given the number of cabinet ministers who have publicly come out to crticise her policies and u-turns. 

Some cabinet ministers have publicly attacked each other, their Tory predecessors via interviews at the Tory party conference now on in Birmingham or on social media. Unheard off and a sign that some in the cabinet have little time for Truss.

Truss had to make a u-turn on the tax cuts plan for the rich. But throwing Kwarteng under the bus so publicly by saying it was just his idea the tax cut showed chicken-infused leadership.

Kwarteng was hardly Chancellor of the Exchequer material and Truss putting one of her close friends in such a pivotal role may be good for her ego and her friends at the libertarian think tank Institute of Economics Affairs, but not good for working and middle class Brits.

Kwarteng’s flippant “a little turbulence”  remark at the Tory party conference came as no surprise to me. He has never been one to communicate well or listen to others for that matter.

In fact Truss should have fired Kwasi for that idiotic heartless comment alone given the traumatic impact many mortgage borrowers felt in recent days as a result of his barmy so-called mini-budget. But Truss is too weak to do so.

Kwasi car-crash leadership of the Treasury was on dangerous ground from day one. His immediate firing of Tom Scholar – the top civil servant at the Treasury – should have generated concerns and probing by the media and opposition but the media in particular was too busy with its relentless coverage of the Queen of GB’s death and the ascension of King Charles. 

But we know govts all over the world would have used this media coverage of the Queen of GB’s  death to slip through certain dodgy decisions in order to avoid public scrutiny and outrage.

Mordaunt 2.0?

In a previous blog – when the leadership race for Tory leader/PM had just  started – I wrote that Penny Mordaunt was the candidate likely to succeed Boris Johnson. She came third.

Mordaunt ran a solid campaign and was a favorite to reach the final 2. But the rumour mongers from the Sunak and Truss camp began to brief against Mordaunt in a most vicious way. 

(One smear against Mordaunt by a Truss supporter was that she always went missing as a minister. Ironic given that after the markets reacted badly to last month’s mini budget neither Truss or Kwarteng  could be found for days)

Clearly Mordaunt was upset and spoke out against the smears. The denigrating actions of Mordaunt’s rivals was backed in the media and scuppered her chances of making the final 2 for Tory members to choose from. 

But what baffled me (and really it shouldn’t) was how quickly Mordaunt fell into line behind the Truss camp and became virtually her communications spokesperson and main cheerleader. By then Truss was the clear favourite amongst Tory party members to win the leadership easily over Sunak.

Maybe Mordaunt was angling for a senior cabinet position and in getting the Leader of the House gig was kind of an outlier from the real cabinet positions. 

But Mordaunt and her other cabinet colleagues own this debacle under Truss. Some cabinet members are trying to distance themselves from Truss’ actions with their comments to the media  but Mordaunt made the wrong decision in taking a job in a Truss cabinet.

[Although from a major British historical point, Mordaunt played the most crucial role at the Ascension Council  for King Charles which had the kind of global coverage that would be the envy of many. You can’t begrudge Penny that moment.]

Conservative Conundrum 

It is likely that if Truss goes the Tory MPs alone will have to choose a PM/Tory leader quickly.

But the Labour and Conservative Parties must get some legislation in place that if their leader resigns as PM/party leader that the replacement must be chosen by its MPs on the proviso that the new leader/PM has to call a general election to get their own mandate within a certain timeframe.

It is so wrong to see the Truss administration make the kind of radical economic decisions without first getting a mandate from the electorate. Especially when she and Kwarteng had not even costed the budget with the Office of Budget Responsibility or discussed the key budget decisions with other members of the cabinet.

Truss is clearly a prime minister that not even ⅔ of the Tory MPs wanted. Some of her actions since winning the leadership had made her credibility amongst those MPs sunk even lower. When Truss failed to appoint  any supporters of the Sunak wing to her cabinet she made a bed of even more enemies for herself. 

Truss’ credibility has taken a real trashing at this week’s Tory party conference. Things got so bad at the conference that a message came from the whips office that ordered al Tory MPs not to speak to the media.

By the time Truss finished her attacks of her list of dreamt up enemies some of the current and forrmer Tory MPs felt uninspired and resigned to defeat at the next general election. Truss has completed lost the plot.

When parliament reopens after the conference season, the Tory backbenches will make for interesting viewing as you know some will not shirk to public slam some of the decisions of the Truss front bench. Especially on the issue of cutting benefits.

I am no fan of either Priti Patel (former Home Secretary) or her successor Suella Braverman but given what the latter has hinted about her predecessor’s performance in the role you know Patel is going to come back at her.

Can Truss really hold on?

The Labour Party has recently enjoyed record opinion polling numbers, some giving them a 30+ percent lead over the Conservatives.

But we all know that the Conservative Party has this knack of turning around their misfortunes when the time comes for a general election. errr but not with Truss at the helm and the MPs know it.

The Tory MPs also know that Labour leader Kier Starmer is no Tony Blair (the only Labour leader to beat the Tories at the general elections in the past 40 years).

The Labour government should have never lost the 2010 general election and subsequently complacent Labour Party leaders have managed to lose to Tory governments when the latter should have been turfed out. 

But for the current Tory government  to survive at least Kwarteng or Truss has to go. Some would say preferably both.

Thus I would not be surprised if by the end of November new occupants are in at Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street. London SW1.

There should never be any allowance for appalling leadership and diabolical management of any government  to embed itself because the personnel are new to the job. You have to react to those warning signs quickly or future generations will pay a heavy price. Calm heads needed. 

Whatever pennies I have left are back on Mordaunt.

Then again what do I know? Today’s British politics is far from conventional or reality.

Miracle Needed on Downing Street
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Review: Portia Simspon-Miller – The Girl from Woodhall

Recently, Television Jamaica (TVJ) showed a documentary  “The Girl from Woodhall” which was a political biography of Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female prime minister (2006-7, 2011-2016) and first female president of the People’s National Party (PNP) from 2005-2017..

A documentary well worth watching. 

 “The Girl from Woodhall” was a very fair portrayal of Portia’s political career from her humble beginnings in the hills of St Catherine in a village called Woodhall (also known as Reds) and ending up at the highest office in Jamaican politics. A feat that is remarkable even by today’s standard of political development.

The programme was a good, enlightening and essential and was presented/narrated by Giovanni Dennis. The docu gave Jamaican viewers an insight to Mrs Simpson-Miller’s political career which spanned over  5-6 decades, a career which was at times controversial, contentious, challenging and inspiring.

The fact that an African Jamaica woman such as Simpson-Miller who from unfashionable circles rose to the zenith of representational politics in a society that tends to judge your level of credibility and acceptability by colour, gender, wealth and pedigree is a testament to her resilience, courage and longevity.

The documentary had a number of anecdotal contributions from the likes of Lambert Brown, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, Jennifer Edwards, Deborah Hickling-Gordon, PJ Patterson, Peter Phillips, Mark Golding, Floyd Morris, Julian Robinson and Paul Burke (all senior PNP colleagues) 

There were also contributions from the rival Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) including Karl Samuda, Andrew Holness and Bruce Golding.

Surprisingly there was no input from any of Portia’s (political) cousins such as Everald Warmington, Natalie Neita Garvey, Noel Arscott or Richard Azan. But then again it’s likely that some turned down the chance to appear in the docu.

Other input to the docu came from journalists Vashan Brown, Dionne Jackson-Miller, Milton Walker and Nadeen Spence as well as residents from Simpson-Miller’s former constituency of South West St Andrew.

We learnt from her aides how Simpson-Miller the MP was keen to maintain a dignified discretion of those families she assisted with their education expenses. Simpson-Miller’s reason was she  did not think it was right for the wider public to know private challenges faced by her constituents. Respect for that.

It was clear from some PNP comrades on social media that  they were not happy that Bruce Golding was given so much air time in the docu. But Golding and Simpson Miller’s political careers were aligned from the early 1970s. Plus he  made a number of salient points and his and Simpson-Miller ancestry goes way back to the same area in St Catherine. 

(Simpson-Miller godmother (Mrs H) and the Goldings were neighbours in the nearby town of Old Harbour. Mrs H and both Golding’s mum and wife were teaching colleagues at the then Old Harbour Secondary.)

The documentary reminded the viewer of the snobbery Simpson-Miller faced from some of her senior colleagues who felt she did not the educational pedigree to justify being leader of the party. 

(There has been a ridiculous trend in Jamaican work culture that to be worthy of senior management roles you have to have had attained a minimum of a master’s degree or a PhD whether you have leadership competencies or not. Hence many of the senior public sector heads are holders of Doctorates)

The docu also highlighted how Simpson-Miller’s leadership was mired by elocution smugness of her critics. Some comrades have never forgiven their own colleagues for their facetious behaviour towards Simpson-Miller. 

To me Portia – on the political campaign trail- was a ferocious and engaging voice of the people. The way she said the word “wicked” when describing a policy or action by the JLP was done with such vigour and fervour it energised her audience.

In the docu, Bruce Golding justified the JLPs elocutionary attacks on Simpson-Miller by saying the PNP started it. But Golding should have known better and not crossed that line given his own father’s ancestral roots was minutes away from Woodhall in Bellas Gate. 

(A testament to Simpson-Miller’s dignity was even after those personal attack by Bruce’s JLP she still attended the funeral of his mum a few years later and even hugged him)

But all agreed that Simpson-Miller was a unique and much loved politician who had cross party appeal and was well respected both nationally and on the global stage. The likes Jamaicans will never see again. 

The documentary revealed that then-PM Simpson-Miller’s absence from media interviews was influenced mainly by Simpson-Miller’s advisers’ attempt  to shield her from what they perceived as potential embarrassment. In the end such over protection proved counterproductive. As Karl Samuda said Simpson-Miller’s senior advisers should have “let Portia be Portia”. Simple.

There was little to no input in the documentary from the other key stakeholders such as the business community, civil society and sporting arena. Something that was glossed over was her role as sports minister.

But interestingly there was little input to the docu from those younger PNP comrades who came to prominence because of Portia’s influence over the past 2 decades.

[My 2 main criticisms of Portia’s full term premiership.

  1. The decision to amend that sacred law and withdraw $JM45bn from the National Housing Trust (NHT) coffers of many Jamaican contributors for non housing economic issues. There were no legal measures put in place for the money to be returned. The current JLP administration (who criticised the decision at the time) has continued this financial raid of the NHT with a total $57bn to be taken out by 2025.
  2. There were times when she should have shaken up things in her government by having a cabinet reshuffle. It was clear the Simpson-Miller’s administration was flagging in certain portfolios (crime, education, banking, transport) and dogged by allegations of poor governance.]

Simpson-Miller was praised for her creating a broad cabinet of ministers made up of the various warring factions (incl. those who didn’t support her) within the PNP.  Simpson-Miller was also commended for not micromanaging the cabinet. [But for me there were times when she should have stepped in and cracked the whip as the compliancy displayed at times was part of the PNP administration’s eventual downfall at the 2016 general election.] 

The PNP election campaign ahead of that 2016 general election was nonexistent and Simpson-Miller has to carry the can for that defeat. Simpson-Miller was certainly not her usual energetic and engaging self when she came calling in our area during the campaign.

Some in the PNP praised how Forbes magazine rated Simpson-Miller as one of the 100 most influential figures and yet in another line said in the docu she was not allowed to lead because of the muzzling by her closest advisors. 

For someone who has had such an extensive career spanning 6 decades I felt the documentary should have been in 2 parts. It seemed rushed or stuck too long on one subject matter.

Simpson-Millers body of work as just a cabinet minister alone was broad and thus the docu did not have the time frame to report on some of her achievements and pivotal moments as a government minister e.g. As Labour minister Simpson-Miller disclosed the audit findings of farmwork corruption that eventually led to the imprisonment of former Labour minister J.A.G. Smith (JLP). 

Shame the viewer was not able to hear from Simpson-Miller in her current mode. But I am sure there are valid reasons for her absence. 

When prime minister Holness slipped in the final segment of the docu that his government was working on steps to honour Simpson-Miller, Giovanni Dennis should have – out of courtesy  – gathered some feedback from current PNP leader Mark Golding on Holness’ comments. 

Especially as the PNP said recently that they were never consulted by Nigel Clarke (finance minister) who decided to create a new bank note with the face of PNPs Michael Manley next to that of JLPs Edward Seaga – both former prime ministers and lifelong bitter enemies.

Despite Woodhall being in the title of the documentary so little time was spent in Woodhall or the nearby villages of Browns Hall, Bellfield, Bartons, Marlie Hill etc where Simpson-Miller would have visited over the years and still had extended family relations in that area.

Unless I missed it, the viewer was not informed of the names of Simpson-Miller’s parents or how many siblings she had. We didn’t get any idea from the docu about who was Portia Simpson-Miller away from the public eye or her outside interests.

It has been great to see the number of documentaries, discussions, books and interviews in recent times focusing on some of the the women who were key to Jamaica’s development since 1944 e.g. the excellent  Beverley Manley Duncan’s 4 parter

Portia Simpson-Miller was a unique political juggernaut. I first had that impression as a kid in the 1970s/early 1980s when I’d seen her on our road. Even then I was staggered by the majority margins she won her seat by at the general election. Her appeal across party lines was there for all to see and she even developed a close friendship with former JLP leader Edward Seaga. 

A certain JLP MP was known to throw out of his constituency office anyone who made disparaging remarks about Simspn-Miller. 

I do hope Simpson-Miller publishes her memoirs in time as her full story is worth sharing.

In the end, time restrictions meant “The Girl from Woodhall” was limited in content.

But well done to Giovanni Dennis and his production team.

Memoirs by Some Jamaican Women

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Lisa Hanna finally Jumps from her Perilous PNP Patch in St Ann

It comes as no real surprise that Lisa Hanna – the 15 year PNP representative for South East St Ann – is planning to walk away from representational politics.

For one, Hanna had little chance of retaining her seat at the next general election given she scraped through the 2020 election by just 31 votes. In 2007 Hanna first won the seat with 66% of the vote.

What made Hanna’s time in South East St Ann even more untenable was that during her PNP leadership race (2020) against rival and eventual winner Mark Golding her own constituency members-block backed Golding.

So it wasn’t a matter if Hanna would leave her current constituency but a matter of just when. No way a person of Hanna’s profile would allow herself to face definite defeat at the next general election and have that stain on her political résumé.

What really confirmed it for me that  Hanna was on her way out was her virtual silence on the controversial move by Kamina Johnson-Smith (foreign minister) to run for commonwealth secretary general and the political fall out that has since ensued. A scandal has since blow up over the cost of the Johnson-Smith bid drawing sharp criticism from various quarters.

Hanna is the shadow minister for foreign affairs and I kept wondering why  are others from the PNP’s front bench (Julian Robinson & Donna Scott-Mottley) being so vocal over the scandal and not Lisa Hanna? Something was up.

The Kamina Johnson-Smith CG expenses scandal is probably the biggest controversy to hit the Andrew Holness-led JLP administration since 2021 and nothing from the opposition lead on the portfolio?

Great Expectations 

When Lisa Hanna entered frontline politics for the People’s National Party (PNP) there was excitement and buzz as expectations were raised that she would bring a freshness and vibrancy to the party. Many expected Lisa Hanna to be a certainty for future party leader.

During the Portia Simpson-led administration (2011-2016) Hanna was appointed minister for youth & culture. To me that posting was a fluffy position lacking any substance. 

The portfolios lacked cohesion and didn’t make sense. The portfolios of education and youth should be joined together and culture should be alongside media or even tourism.

I felt Hanna would have best suited at tourism, sport or education and due to her strong communication & PR skills she should have been considered for minister of information.

But the PNP were keeping the big portfolios for the senior figures in the party some of who by 2014 had lost touch with reality and there based on loyalties and not competencies. It was hard to find a PNP MP who was not a government minister of some sort. Hence a bloated cabinet.

In the aftermath of the PNPs shocking knife edge lost to the JLP at the 2016 general election, Hanna immediately said her party needed immediate “renewal”. She was right.

But Hanna’s comments incensed key PNP officials, some of whom were determined to (successfully) prevent her being elected to one of the four vice presidents of the party.

Expectations were heightened that Hanna was going to make a run to succeed Simpson-Miller as party leader but in the end Hanna fell in to line and supported the anointed one Peter Phillips in an uncontested election (Karl Blythe). 

To me Hanna missed her chance then. In 2016 the PNP needed the energy, youthfulness, populism and charisma of a Lisa Hanna to revitalise their flagging fortunes. Whatever criticism there is of her, Hanna knows how to connect with the younger voters.

Hanna’s reward for “supporting” Phillips in 2017 was opposition spokesperson for foreign affairs & foreign trade. Again a fluffy role which lacks the media profile to put the party across successfully to a doubting electorate. 

In Jamaica, the opposition portfolios of substance that will get you media coverage and quick-wins against the ruling government are finance, agriculture, health, education, environment and of course national security.

For the 2020 general election Hanna was given a senior election campaign role and it’s fair to say she did not cover herself in glory as she rarely spoke to the media. That PNP campaign was chaotic, flat and abysmal. Leader Phillips fell into the trap set by the Andrew Holness administration and got a trouncing. Although over 60% of the electorate stayed home.

Following Phillips’ resignation as party leader after that election defeat Hanna lost out to eventual winner Mark Golding to succeed Phillips.

Hanna displayed herself as a sore loser by not being present on the platform for the announcement of the final result; despite being there earlier in the day. Whatever her excuse it looked childish and lacked leadership.

And that juvenile response didn’t end there as Hanna was absent from parliament during new leader Golding’s early days and did not appear at the new leaders swearing-in ceremony held at the official residence of the governor general. 

Again, Hanna kept the foreign affairs portfolio under the Golding leadership which was just ridiculous.

But since she lost to Golding you could see at times that Hanna seemed disengaged from PNP politics in body and spirit.

 In parliament under the previous leaders Hanna sat directly behind Simpson-Miller and Phillips. But in the current parliament Hanna sits as far away as humanly possible from Golding that even the TV cameras there can hardly pick her up on screen.

Hanna has hardly been vocal in her portfolio when expected to, especially with the Johnson-Smith scandal. 

For key speeches from certain PNP parliamentarians from her side Hanna was missing. She rarely does tuff interviews which is not good for someone who wants the highest office and reportedly turned down interview requests from certain male journalists during her leadership challenge. 

(After interviewing Golding on his popular entertainment show OnStage host Winford Williams made an unsuccessful public plea for Hanna to join the show the following week.)

But I must say since 2016 Hanna delivers the best speeches in parliament of anyone in the lower house or upper house.

Hanna’s speeches are so brilliant, rivetting, conciliatory, idealistic and inspirational that they gain plaudits from both sides of the aisle in the lower house.

Bumps Along The Road

At times Hanna did not cover herself in glory.

As youth minister she drew criticism for the government’s attempt to muzzle certain civil society groups such as Jamaica for Justice who were critical of her stewardship of certain issues. She also drew criticism from the civil service union for the way Dahlia Harris was fired in 2015 from her senior post at the ministry of youth and culture. 

A 2017 report by The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) slammed Hanna and her PNP constituent councillors over nepotism and “unethical management” in the awarding of contracts. The OCG did refer their findings to the Director of Public Prosecution as well as the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for possible further action.

DPP delivered a stinging rebuke and recommended prosecution against an employee in Hanna’s constituency office and against (possibly) Hanna’s then partner/now husband – Richard Lake – but not against Hanna. What ever happened to that case?

“OCG recommends that criminal investigations be pursued and a determination be made as it regards whether the actions of Mr. Richard Lake amounts to interference and/or gives rise to an obstruction. Mr. Richard Lake persuaded Mrs. Joan McDonald to make a false statement and to mislead the contractor General by making the false statement.”

If the OCG had published the report while Hanna was a government minister there would have been strong pressure for her to resign from the cabinet.

Then again the OCG has filed equally scathing reports against previous and current government ministers over alleged misuse of public funds and nothing happens. 

If Hanna had defeated Golding and was polling well against the government you can bet the JLP media machine would have flagged the OCGs report relentlessly to embarrass Hanna and pressure the DPP into action. 

National Political Asset or Liability?

Despite these marks against her, the PNP can ill afford to lose someone of Hanna’s star appeal. But remaining in South St Ann with such a slim majority and major tension was pointless and a way out by Hanna was inevitable. 

Maybe Hanna could have been parachuted into Peter Phillips’ seat given he stated from 2020 that he would retire from politics but is still there! Why?

Rightly or wrongly the PNP have developed a perception of not doing more to develop smartly the political careers of it younger promising  officials.. 

Something clearly went amiss in the development of Lisa Hanna’s political growth and that of colleagues Damion Crawford, Raymond Pryce, Krystal Tomlinson, Kari Douglas and Andre Haughton. 

As Hanna departs after 15 years as a MP I’d love her to disclose what were some of her proudest achievements as a MP, government minister and as opposition spokesperson for foreign affairs/trade. That’s how anyone can assess the effectiveness of Hanna’s stewardship as a parliamentarian.

I have heard Hanna speak proudly of the work she did to get UNESCO to add the John Crow Mountains to the World Heritage list.

I would say for someone of Lisa Hanna’s calibre and potential she has under achieved and that’s due to not being placed in positions that best suit her skills set and development on a national stage. Clearly her leadership of her constituency must be called in question.

But did Hanna push for more substantial portfolios under the 3 PNP leaders she served under? 

I found really found it strange that after losing to Golding that she settled back into the shadow foreign affairs role. 

What was the point Hanna (lower house) shadowing Johnson-Smith for 6 years when the latter was based in the upper house during all that time?

Is Hanna holding out for a safe PNP constituency for a comeback?

If Golding’s PNP performs dismally at the next local government election then the knives will be out for him to go and would make it easier for a Hanna to succeed.

Hanna has raised constantly via parliament and other platforms her frustrations to get government funding to improve a number of roads in her constituency.

Her perceived failure to get these road improvements completed has led to regular protests by her constituents. 

When news broke of Hanna’s intended departure from South East St Ann some constituents who spoke to the media were happy and blamed her for the lack of road improvements. 

But we  know in Jamaica when it comes to road improvements opposition MPs are at the back of the queue when it bids for such work ever since Public Works was disbanded 

The Lady and the Lake

So what next for Lisa?

For a few years now Hanna has carved out a career as a weekly columnist for the Sunday Observer and has written a few pieces for the British Guardian

Hanna’s Sunday column is interesting because it has given her the platform to reveal her views on a wide range of issues affecting Jamaica. A useful media platform for any elected parliamentarian seeking the highest office.

Hanna and Richard Lake are known to a take serious interest in the horse racing and logistics industries (Lyford Logistics Limited). 

The high profile businessman Lake has had a extensive career in real estate, construction, freight management, food, agriculture, hospitality and investment. The wider Lake family is the franchise owner of Popeye’s and Burger King outlets as part of Restaurant Associates Limited. 

For 3 decades Lake has owned Lakeland Farms which is a major player in the local racehorse breeding industry. 

So Hanna nuh short of money or other . But will Lake remain a key donor to the PNP?

Going before dem shoob her out.

Useful information

Hanna to miss Golding’s Swearing in ceremony – Flair November 2020

Cronyism claim – Lisa Hanna dodges charges but scolded for contract nepotism – Gleaner July 2020

OCG asks DPP to probe Lisa Hanna, St Ann councillors over contract awards – Gleaner November 2017

Hanna Calls for PNP Leadership Shakeup – Nationwide May 2016

Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains inscribed to UNESCO’s Prestigious World Heritage List – JIS 2015

Comrades divided in South East St Ann · Councillors desert Hanna’s constituency conference and mount protest – Gleaner July 2015

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Some Reflections of #Oregon22 (World Athletics) Going Forward

World athletics championship 2022 in Oregon was simply terrific.

There were so many outstanding performances by the athletes that it is impossible for me to even pick a top ten. There was the odd controversy such as the false starts and some overseas athletes faced last minute visa hurdles.

But some of the things I took away from the Oregon World Athletics Championship 2022 were

  1. 6 of the 8 women who lined up for 400m final came from the Caribbean with the eventual winner coming from Bahamas, runner up Dominican Republic and Sada Williams became the first Barbadian woman to win a medal (bronze) at the world championship. The Caribbean won 17 medals overall but surprisingly none from Cuba Many others performed admirably well for their respective island nation. Thus the Caribbean cemented itself as a powerhouse in track and field. It about time now the world outdoor championship is held in the Caribbean. Seb Coe (World Athletics president) is correct when he says that for Jamaica to host a world championship it has to build a new stadium.
  2. When Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her first 100m world title in 2009 her prize money was $US60,000. When Fraser-Pryce won the 100m world title for the 5th time last week she received $US70,000. Scandalous. [First round prize money for the US tennis Singles Open in 2022 is $75,000 ($19,000 in 2009)] World Athletics must do better in the prize money stakes.
  3. On the last day of the world championship Tobi Amusan (Nigeria) stole the show when she broke the 100m hurdles world record in the semis and returned hours later to run a wind aided faster time to win the title. Amusan is trained by former Jamaican hurdler/jumper Lacena Golding-Clarke who has held a senior coaching role at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) for some time and now moving on to Auburn University. Golding-Clarke’s coaching achievement is a big step for the Jamaican female coaching fraternity.
  4. Qualifications for the world championship needs to be based on merit (top 16-32) and not restricted to 3 athletics per nationality. Seeing East African athletes running for non-African nations in order to just get a spot is archaic.
  5. If you followed the various US media platforms you would have hardly known that the world championship was happening in that country. This despite there being no NFL, NBA, NHL or EPL on show. US media (incl. ESPN) could care less about athletics and their coverage reflected it. NBC (rights holder) showed most of its coverage on their Peacock streaming platform. NBC did little to promote the sport ahead of the event and World Athletics must take some of the flak for that poor piece of planning and marketing. NBC’s commentary of the women’s 10000m final was embarrassing.
  6. Time for the world championship to be held on an annual basis (excl. Olympic year) and not biannual.
  7. The 2023 world championship will be held in Hungary in August. Given the numerous anti human rights stances taken by Hungary’s government led by PM Viktor Orban, will there be pressure by some western governments or human rights groups for athletes to boycott the 2023 world championship?
    1. Orban’s latest remarks “We [Hungarians] are not a mixed race … and we do not want to become a mixed race,” One of Orban’s own colleagues resigned in outrage describing Orban’s remarks as akin to Joseph Goebbels.
    1. Everything you need to know about human rights in Hungary

But if I am to pick one highlight from Oregon22 it would be  long jumper Malaika Mihambo’s (Germany) third jump to remain in the competition; a jump that took her into the lead and never looked back in retaining her title.

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