Last night’s televised debate between members of the Jamaica Labour Party (Floyd Green, Kamina Johnson-Smith & Christopher Tufton) and the People’s National Party (Dayton Campbell, Lisa Hanna and Raymond Pryce) was a let down and I score it a draw with the JLP having the slightest of edge.
Hanna was clearly to biggest winner of the night in the long term. As her performance would have appealed to apolitical younger viewers. But she may have smoothed over many PNP delegates who have been objectional about her leadership ambitions. If the PNP lose the general elections – as the polls are indicating – then Hanna has positioned herself as a strong successor to current leader Peter Phillips.
Hanna was composed, astute in her delivery and strong in her attacks on the JLP without coming across as offensive or juvenile. The timing of her patois comments was clever. During responses to questions to the JLP members from the media panel you could see Hanna off camera directing her 2 colleagues as to who will deliver the rebuttal.
Pryce equipped himself really well despite saying very little during the first 25 minutes of the debate. He had his usual wry wit in delivering his comments. He was quick and convincing at times. Pryce came across as succinct and by the closing stages of the 90 minute debate he was on a roll.
Hanna and Pryce were last minute replacements for the debate as their colleagues Krystal Tomlinson and Peter Bunting both pulled out for COVID-19 related reasons. Given such circumstances both Pryce and Hanna equipped themselves well.
As for Dayton Campbell, it was just cringe watch tv. Each time Campbell spoke you felt that either he was digging himself into a bigger hole or lacked the usual passion and finesse that we were accustomed to hearing from him.
Campbell’s use of the late Jodian Fearon’s name in attacking the government of its COVID-19 preparation was a head shaker. Why? Was this a pre-planned tactic agreed by the team?
I know what he was trying to say but the way Campbell went about his comments was reprehensible. During the break Hanna should have told Campbell to kool it and engage brain first and think of the wider audience his party is trying to win over for the 3rd September.
But Campbell during a discussion on mental health implied that his team had no mental health issues unlike his JLP counterparts. As a medical doctor Campbell should have known better than play such silly games and for me that the cost the PNP an overall victory in the debate.
Campbell knows better as has been of the top debaters during the recent parliament. So why Campbell went down this futile unprofessional road I will never know. Campbell just looked distracted and did not look prepared even on health which was his shadow portfolio for most of the recently concluded parliament.
Floyd Green was the top performer from the JLP side. He backed up his arguments with data and examples of success stories in rural Jamaica. Green was articulate and brought an abundance of energy and brevity to his remarks. He was pumped up.
Kamina Johnson-Smith was her usual self as when she is in the Senate. Her repetitive reference to her PM Andrew Holness was a bit over the top and sounded more like Mike Pence’s usual adulation of Donald Trump. At times Johnson-Smith was talking so fast she kept twisting up her words. But she came prepared for a fight and did relatively well to put the government’s case for a 2nd term. Very energetic.
Tufton started off well during his opening remarks but after that he seemed to lose focus and was clearly flustered by Campbell’s remarks on Jodian Fearon. In that moment, Tufton should not have swallowed the bait thrown by Campbell but rise above it. Tufton was not his usual poised self and Pryce was able to give Tufton the odd verbal elbow.
As for the supporting cast, I did not see the point of Janella Precius as a moderator. The level of questions raised by journalists Natalie Campbell and Vashan Brown was too open ended. The questions should have been more probing with follow-up questions based on the initial comments given by both debating teams.
The moderator should have been in a position to fact-check some of the outlandish remarks and promises made by both teams. Precius for one thing, should have put Campbell in his place over his mental health jibe at the JLP team. All Precius seemed to do was just watch the damn clock.
In all, Hanna came out on top and she must now sense after that performance, her stock has risen within the PNP ranks and that her leadership aspirations are now back on track after a few years where her colleagues/delegates dumped on her to stifle any upward profession to the top job.
Hanna, Pryce and Green may have done the best due to their media careers in front of the camera. Pryce presents a morning show on CVM Television. Prior to 2016, Green used to present same show Pryce is on today and Hanna’s media career goes back decades.
- Lisa Hanna: A-
- Floyd Green: B+
- Raymond Pryce: B-
- Kamina Johnson-Smith: B-
- Christopher Tufton: C –
- Dayton Campbell: E
I think tomorrow’s debate – between Nigel Clarke (JLP) and Mark Golding (PNP) – will be a more contentious affair.