Radio Discussion: Jamaica’s Political History, the Early Years – Role of Bustamante, Seaga & the Manleys

  • How did Edward Seaga get into active politics?
  • What is Seaga’s legacy to West Kingston?
  • Did the PNP first start the redevelopment of West Kingston?
  • Did the JLP first build Arnett Gardens?
  • Did Seaga ever try to publicly embarrass Norman Manley?
  • How did Seaga embrace revivalism – did he ever get into “spirit”?
  • Did Jamaica’s political violence start in the 1940s or much later?
  • Who came up with the incendiary political terms “blood fi blood, & “fire fi fire”?
  • Was Seaga behind the idea of Marcus Garvey’s body being transferred from London to Jamaica? Or was is it Leslie Alexander (a white Garveyite) and Vivian Durham?
  • Was the idea of the PNP devised by New York based Jamaicans?
  • Where did the term “dutty Labourite” originate from?

All the answers and much more can be found in a fascinating discussion hosted on Nationwide Radio by Cliff Hughes who spoke with Desmond McKenzie, MP for Kingston Western (0:00-29:00) and Jerry “Bongo” Small, political historian  (29:16 -1.06:00).

 

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PNP Leadership Race: Peter vs Peter vs ?

Jamaica’s People’s National Party (PNP) will have a leadership race as Peter Bunting has confirmed his intentions to challenge current leader, Peter Phillips.

In his statement Bunting remarked

“Dr Phillips has made an outstanding contribution to the party and the country in the various positions in which he has served over the past three decades.

However, since becoming [PNP] president, he has not implemented a single transformational initiative within the party and is just not seen as the right person for this time, Therefore, I confirm that I am offering myself for president of the People’s National Party at the annual conference in September,”

Challenge is Necessary

Since Phillips permanently succeeded Portia Simpson-Miller as PNP leader in 2017 he has flattered to deceive and the party has slipped badly in the polls behind the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

The JLP government has been blighted by numerous corruption scandals and their ineptness at reducing violent crime and improving the public health service has been quite stark. Yet Phillips has not displayed the leadership to hold the government to account. It has been left to PNP figures such as Fitz Jackson, Lambert Brown, Mikael Phillips, Mark Golding and Donna Scott-Mottley to successfully take the fight to the government.

Lately, Bunting had been giving subtle hints of his intentions to challenge Phillips.

  1. He has been more vocal in parliament in attacking the government over policy and corruption.
  2. He recently broke ranks with parliamentary colleagues to oppose the recent extension of a State of Emergency in St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
  3. He is an active member of various parliamentary select committees especially the Public Account Committee (PAC).
  4. He has stepped up his accessibility on social media and made regular appearances on the popular radio talk shows.

Mark Golding, the PNP’s official spokesman on finance, has quickly come out to support Bunting. So too colleagues Dayton Campbell, Ian Hayles, Luther Buchanan and Michael Stewart. Senior PNP members such as Lisa Hanna, K.D. Knight and Phillip Paulwell have  endorsed Phillips.

In Golding’s statement he writes” Dr Phillips is my friend and made a tremendous contribution to our Party and country. However, all indications are that Dr Phillips cannot lead our Party to victory in a general election.

Golding’s support of Bunting is to be expected. They have been successful  business partners going back decades and currently are part of the management team at Proven Investments Limited.

Bunting’s challenge has to be welcomed as Phillips has so far delivered a lukewarm performance as leader of the opposition and has not captured the imagination of the public.

Is Bunting the right man to win the general elections for the PNP?

I have spoken to quite a few PNP die hard supporters over the past 3 years regarding the vacuum of leadership in its ranks. All felt that Phillips was the wrong leader from very outset. Some have never forgiven him for his attitude towards then leader Simpson-Miller. But when the conversation turned to Bunting as a potential successor all quickly gave him the thumbs down.

But this leadership race will give Bunting the chance to present his ideas and personality to the delegates. Bunting is smart cookie and given his background in business it will be interesting to see how he projects himself during the campaign. Especially when it eventually gets heated.

Will other members of the PNP join the leadership race?

For the PNP’s sake I hope so. The Peter vs Peter race needs at least a 3rd strong opponent.

The most improved member of the PNP in parliament has been Lisa Hanna. Her recent speech during in the sectoral debate was a watershed moment in her career. It was the speech of a future leader, full of ideas and policies. But she is in the Phillips camp. So far.

In a 2016 Jamaica Observer online poll on who should succeed then leader Simpson-Miller, Phillips (32%) came out first followed closely by Hanna (29%) and Bunting (27%).

Whoever the next PNP leader is, Hanna and Damion Crawford will have to be central to the election campaign to appeal to younger voters and those who stayed away from the ballot box; given that 53% of the electorate did not vote in the 2016 general election.

Even though Bunting has the support of Mark Golding I find the latter a more viable candidate for the leadership. He is a top class parliamentarian and runs the powerful Public Accounts Committee effectively. He comes across as composed and uncomplicated.

What goes around…

Some Phillips supporters are angry at Bunting’s challenge for the party’s top job. But political amnesia is at work.

In September 2008 Phillips was so unimpressed with Simpson-Miller’s leadership that he challenged her for the top job and came second; with Simpson Miller receiving 2,332 votes compared to Phillips’ 1,959.

Earlier in July 2008 Phillips felt Simpson-Miller’s leadership was a disaster and if she became PM again then it could lead to the Haitianization of Jamaica and Jamaican politics. Phillips also felt that the idea of him being part of a Simpson-Miller cabinet would be too distasteful to consider.

[Phillips did go on to serve in the Simpson-Miller cabinet (2012-2016) as finance minister and steadied the economy that earned plaudits from key local and international stakeholders.]

It is worth noting that in a June 2008 opinion poll then PNP leader Simpson-Miller had a 52% positive rating, Phillips did challenge her.

In a recent March opinion poll Phillip’s positive rating stood at 12%. If PNP supporters does not believe Phillip’s poor poll numbers does not warrant a leadership challenge, then they are either in denial or too worried about their careers to speak out.

Let us not forget that Phillips was the campaign director of the PNP’s dire 2016 general election race where the party lost 11 seats and power.

This is No Longer Seaga’s JLP

The PNP must realise that the current JLP machinery is a formidable juggernaut. This is not the late Edward Seaga’s JLP of the previous 2 decades, when losing general elections became an occupational hazard.

Since Seaga retired as leader in 2005, the JLP has won 2 of the last 3 general elections. The party has a solid campaign machine aided by a team of articulate supporters well positioned to deliver the party’s message and positive image. Crucially the JLP is backed up by big money.

Money Matters

Whoever the next PNP leader is must have the appeal and connections to attract funds from big donors.

In the post 2016 election review, PNP treasurer Norman Horne called-out several senior PNP members for not passing over to the party millions of dollars they collected in during the election campaign  – PNP Campaign Scandal – Jamaica Observer August 2016

Since the 2016 election it has been very clear to onlookers that the PNP’s finance has diminished drastically. Just look at poorly funded campaigns the party ran during the 2017 local government election and in some by-elections where there were hardly any PNP advertisements placed in the media.

Thus the Phillips supporters should not be too hard on Bunting as the party is currently enjoying the kind of publicity that they can ill afford to pay the media.

Winning Is All that Matters

It is early days into the leadership race and Phillips is the undoubtedly the clear favourite to win.

The leadership race could be what Phillips needs to really impress on the electorate that he is ready to be Jamaica’s next prime minister. This leadership race will certainly give the PNP much needed positive press coverage. Take this past week for example.

For the first time in years the PNP has constantly made the headlines ever since Bunting made his announcement. The leadership race has even overshadowed media coverage of the plans for the funeral of former PM Edward Seaga.

It would be wise for the members/delegates to hear the candidates’ plans to improve to political and financial fortunes of the party before jumping to conclusions.

The key issues I would like to hear from the PNP contenders will be their strategies for the economy, education, health, transport and housing? What are their plans to reduce violent crime, stamp out corruption, convict grafters and remove politics from pubic sector boards?

Interesting times ahead.

Phillips & Hanna

Image result for bunting golding

Golding & Bunting

 

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So Wrong of Corbyn not to “welcome” Trump?

Dear Jeremy

First, congratulations to Labour for winning the Peterborough by-election and staving off a surge from Nigel Farage’s BREXIT Party.

But what a missed opportunity earlier last week?

Much as I understand your strong antipathy towards Donald Trump, you should have made a genuine effort to meet the President of the United States when he came on his State visit.

You made your views quite clear from as far back as April that you planned to boycott Trump’s visit. You fulfilled your promise and instead spoke at an anti-Trump rally.

I have to say that your decision not to attend the State banquet was misguided and I am concerned about the lack of diplomacy you are displaying on the world stage. I am also concerned about who is advising you on foreign policy.

Jeremy, when are you going to realise that as the leader of the official opposition, you will have to meet and work with politicians that you disagree with on many issues. I would rather you had met with Trump than being on the outside looking in. But despite your protestations leading up to visit, lo and behold Trump told the public that you wanted to have a private meeting with him and he turned you down.

The ideal thing for you to have done, when you were first aware of Trump’s visit, was to issue a public statement welcoming the visit and that you look forward to discussing a number of critical issues with the Donald. Then Trump may have been more forthcoming. If not, then you would have had the upper hand in calling him out.

Yes, Trump is a polarising and controversial leader. He can be pompous, rude and offensive. But he is the most important head of government that you will have to consult on a regular basis should you become PM.

Trump’s modest operandi is all about planned chaos before resolution. So expect the drama, PR stunts and the snide remarks. But look beyond such behaviour and bluster from Trump to achieve your Party’s own goals.

Jeremy, you are the leader of a political party where many of your own colleagues have been rude, pompous and offensive publicly to your face (and back) since you became leader.

In Tom Watson (your deputy leader) you have the most insubordinate number 2 I’ve ever seen in UK politics. Even Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has made harsh remarks about your leadership.

[I know you must realise that Khan is using his own public row with Trump to boost his chances for reelection and also to go after your job.]

Remember Jeremy, you are constantly accused of allowing anti-Semitic behaviour to thrive in the Labour party. Whether this allegation is true or not, how would you feel if international leaders refuse to  meet you because of such allegations?

The UK is currently being led by a rudderless Conservative government and thus here was an opportunity to meet Trump on cordial terms. You could have raised concerns over BREXIT, trade, Iran, Cuba, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, intelligence, North Korea, and China.

Just imagine the faces of Netanyahu and John Bolton if they saw pictures of you discussing Palestine with Trump? You could have been that rare of person – a pro-Palestinian politician with access to Trump.

Despite the numerous disagreements that you and Trump have, there are a few things you both have in common:

  1. The mainstream media in the US and UK hates you both in equal measure. Especially the BBC.
  2. You both are anti-EU.
  3. Senior management of US and UK intelligence services are no fans of either of you.
  4. You both support less US military aggression across the globe.
  5. You both support negotiations with North Korea rather than the far scarier alternative
  6. Sadiq Khan hates you both.

To be honest Jeremy, by now you should have globe trotted to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America and UN to get first hand understanding of issues affecting the wider society, hone your diplomatic craft and build key networks.

Yes, we all know Trump has made some incendiary comments about race, women and much more. On the issue of race your advisors could have consulted the likes of Van Jones to learn how he worked successfully with Trump to achieve changes to the criminal justice system.

Jones, a Democratic Party strategist, has been a vocal critic of Trump from the very night  the latter won the 2016 US presidential elections. Yet Jones managed to work with the Trump administration to pass the First Step Act, which allows non-violent criminals  early release by way of increased “earned time credits.”. The Act rolls back some of the harsh and unfair measures in the 1994 Crime Bill that was passed under the Bill Clinton administration. The Crime Bill  damaged the lives of African Americans more than any other group of Americans. Jones is African American.

CNN’s Van Jones Praises Trump for Criminal Justice Reform Passing Senate: He ‘Has to Get the Credit’

Just a quick reminder of some of the individuals you have met that are no shrinking violets..

The Labour Party’s fortunes has been floundering in recent months for reasons you do not need reminding of right now. But I strongly suggest that you add some advisors with solid  diplomatic experience to your inner circle. Also do get out of the UK bubble and meet leading politicians from other nations on their home soil. We have yet to witness Corbyn the statesman on the international stage on a consistent basis.

The UK is crying out for major changes at Downing Street. The current crop of Tory candidates vying to succeed Theresa May as PM should hopefully not be there too long. We have had a decade of Tory led governments and many have grown tired of their policies, wickedness and incompetence.

It’s Labour’s turn. Just don’t blow it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest from the PAAC Hearings: The Yacht, The Minister, The Advisor and Donor Consultant

The Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) hearings into the shenanigans – centred  on a number of scandals within  Jamaica’s education sector – continues to unravel before our eyes. Leaving the public seeking with more answers.

Last week’s key takeaways from the hearing relate to certain individuals: Professor Fritz Pinnock, Othneil Lawrence, Ruel Reid and Gail Dunwell-Campbell.

  • Professor Fritz Pinnock, head of Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), revealed to the PAAC that he hired Othneil Lawrence (former JLP Member of Parliament and then caretaker for St Ann North Western) as an advisor in 2018. Pinnock stressed to the committee that Lawrence was simply the only person who had the required skills necessary for this particular project at CMU. Pinnock also confirmed that Lawrence was the only person to apply for the vacancy.
  • The PAAC was told that Lawrence relinquished his caretaker role for St Ann North Western and was appointed on 1 April 2018 to his CMU advisory role. Months following his appointment to CMU, Lawrence was replaced by Senator Ruel Reid, (Minister of Education, Youth and Information), as the JLP caretaker for St Ann North Western. Pinnock did not feel Lawrence’s appointment would look highly dubious or murky; given the political linkages of Reid and Lawrence.
  • Pinnock told the committee that CMU had paid $JA675k for “logistics” towards a party held on a yacht attended by Ruel Reid in April 2017. Pinnock’s admission angered Wykeham McNeil (Chair of the PAAC). As McNeil felt Pinnock gave the impression at a previous sitting that CMU paid no money towards the event.  Pinnock had also disclosed at the previous hearing that the yacht event was an “industry function”. But now the committee was informed in writing that the yacht event was coined “The Friends of Ruel Reid”.
  • According to Pinnock, the payment for the logistics was to cancel a debt incurred in January 2017 after the event organiser, as US-based Jamaican businessman Balfour Peart, picked up the tab for ground transportation and logistics support for CMU’s team to the World University Cheerleading Competition in the United States. Peart was a PhD. student at CMU in 2018 and an ambassador for the institution.
  • The committee also learnt that Gail Dunwell-Campbell – a US based Jamaican consultant – was receiving 2 separate payments from CMU and the Ministry of Education for performing the same role.
    • In November 2017 Dunwell-Campbell was appointed International Donor Consultant by then minister Reid. Her role was to raise money overseas to benefit Jamaica’s education sector.
    • In January 2018 Dunwell-Campbell was hired by CMU to perform a similar role. It was revealed that one invoice (addressed to CMU) from Dunwell-Campbell was for payment for $US345K -$JA48,000,000!! – of which $US170K had already been paid.
  • The committee was told that the CMU board had agreed to remove the name of the disgraced former cabinet minister Andrew Wheatley from a centre that was named at the institution in his honour in November 2017.

What next for the PAAC’s investigation of CMU/MOEYI?

  1.  I imagine Professor Pinnock will be called back to the committee to face more questions over his interactions with Dunwell-Campbell plus his business arrangements with Balfour Peart.
  2. Dr Grace McLean has been acting permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education since mid-February 2019. She was the one who spotted the discrepancy over Dunwell-Campbell’s financial arrangements and suspended payment immediately. Much of the alleged questionable practices seemed to have occurred prior to Dr McLean’s appointment. Therefore, the PAAC may need to question Dr Mclean’s predecessor – Dean Roy Bernard who was perm sec from November 2016 until early February 2019.
  3. In scandals like these, where a cabinet minister such as Reid has had to resign, parliament and independent oversight bodies have a duty to review more of Reid’s thorny decisions during his tenure. e.g. Was CMI deserving of its upgrade to (CMU) university status in September 2017? Back then some members of other tertiary institutions were livid at the government’s decision and rush to establish CMU.
  4. Given the furor over the naming of a centre in honour of the former Minister of Energy, Andrew Wheatley, the PAAC may need seek some update from the Dr McLean on the status of the ‘Ruel Reid Transformational Leadership Scholarship’ that was announced in 2017.

“BAU International University in Washington DC has established a scholarship in honour of Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid. The decision to set up the ‘Ruel Reid Transformational Leadership Scholarship’ was taken by the University to recognise Senator Reid’s lead role in arriving at a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry and the University for the provision of 107 scholarships, over three years, worth $378.2 million (US$3 million)...Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, and the Ministry’s newly appointed International Donor Consultant for the Jamaican Diaspora in the US, Gail Dunwell, who works closely with the National Education Trust, were also instrumental in initiating the partnership.. – JIS

 

Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator Ruel Reid (left), shakes the hand of BAU International University Board member, Paul Brunson, following the recent signing of a $378.2-million Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and the institution, for the provision of undergraduate and graduate scholarships for student teachers. Others (from third left) are the ministry’s newly appointed International Donor Consultant for the Jamaican diaspora in the United States, Gail Dunwell, and Mico President, Dr Asburn Pinnock.

 

Respect to the Select Committees and PBC

These televised/streamed select committees hearings continue to be a revelation to Jamaicans concerned about corruption and gross misuse of public funds. The MPs must take credit for doing such a superb job in probing the public servants and other key players. However some PAAC members – on the government side – are an embarrassment in playing tactical games to prevent the public servants from answering certain questions.

In Jamaica, you cannot rely on police investigations and audit reports to get at the real truth of any corruption. The excellent reports from the Contractor General and Auditor General goes only so far and sometimes get lost or delayed in parliament’s tabling process. But thankfully these select committees are doing a fabulous job at holding the government to account.

However, these select committee members are stretched and need extra technical support (such as researchers and investigators) to be more effective. Some members are on at least 5 different select committees with limited back office resources.

The select committee hearings have also given Jamaicans the opportunity to witness some of the excellent civil servants who are trying their best to uphold the integrity and independence of their departments. Which can be a tall order for civil servants, when working alongside colleagues who were recruited to senior positions based solely on their political affiliation.

What is also pleasing about these committee hearings is the number of students from secondary and tertiary institutions in the public gallery watching the proceedings.

Credit to the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) for relaying parliament live via various media platforms. Plus storing the parliamentary proceedings on their You Tube account allows the public to view at the own convenience.

February – March 2019

Looking back to February and March earlier this year it was a interesting period for the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information where major staff changes were made that makes you now go hmmm.

  • 13 February – Floyd Green, then junior education minister, was transferred to a similar role at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. This move surprised many observers who thought Green was destined quickly for promotion to the cabinet. What happened?
  • 15 February – Dean Roy Bernard, permanent secretary was moved to the Ministry of Finance to take up a new role as director general. Given that permanent secretary is generally a higher grade than director general, was Bernard demoted?
  • 20 March 2019 –  Ruel Reid resigned (technically fired) from the cabinet. Reid also quit as a member of the senate. Still there is too much silence as to the reasons why Reid was pushed.

Were all these major personnel changes connected or just simply a coincidence?

Corruption vs Solid Waste?

As Jamaicans learn more about the inflated pay packages and exaggerated job titles for politically well-connected figures in the public sector (e.g. PCJ, Petrojam, CMU), spare a thought for the men and women who collect garbage across the island.

Last Tuesday in the same parliament, to much fanfare and applause by government MPs, Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government, announced that the men and women who collect the nation’s garbage will receive a whopping 28% pay rise.

They will now earn $JA2000 ($US14) per day.

Further Reading

The Gleaner – Untidy Contracts

The Gleaner CMU boss admits university paid towards Ruel Reid’s yacht party

Home

https://www.youtube.com/user/pbcjamaica

 

 

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Theresa May is Going – No Weeping & Wailing on Downing Street

Theresa May is finally resigning from her roles as Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader.

How May managed to survive for nearly an entire decade to inflict her ill-fated policies and poor leadership on the UK (as Home Secretary & PM), is an indictment of UK politics during this period.

May is by far the most frustrating head of any UK government in my lifetime. She was the architect or enabler of many of the scandals and political disasters that damaged people’s lives across the country for this decade. Her recent handling of BREXIT was a textbook in how not to lead and negotiate.

There are many to blame for May lasting this long in government. They include:

  1. David Cameron – Then PM Cameron should have fired May for countless insubordination and for introducing some of the most cruel legislation and policies ever to come out of the Home Office. That was poor leadership on Cameron’s part.
  2. The media – May as Home Secretary (2010-2016) blundered her way through multiple issues on crime, immigration, policing and national security. Things didn’t get better for her as PM. But the media kept playing down May’s pitfalls and gave her a free pass.
  3. Labour Party – Not only has Theresa May being one of the worst prime ministers in living memory, she has led the most uninspired bunch of cabinet ministers ever assembled in Whitehall. Yet the Labour Party chose May’s period as PM to turn on itself in a most acrimonious and public fashion. Despite May’s wretched premiership, Labour’s opinion polling numbers has been pathetic and they rarely had a double digit lead over the Tories. Labour’s poor showing at the recent local government and EU elections must be a wake-up call for its leadership and MPs.

But you have to give it to May.  She bamboozled and simply ignored all her stakeholders to last this long in front-line government. How May remained 6 years as Home Secretary I will never comprehend, given her 5 predecessors (under Labour) served a total of 9 years. Each had their own respective scandals but nothing like May’s blunders.

However, I will give credit to then Home Secretary May for scrapping the National ID card programme and also for blocking the extradition to the US of Gary McKinnon who was facing computer hacking charges.

The Premierships of Theresa May (2016-2019) & Gordon Brown (2007-2010) – All too familiar?

Theresa May’s time in government is so similar to Gordon Brown’s (Labour Party) of the previous decade.

As cabinet ministers both forced their colleagues into submission to get their way over policy. (Brown was Chancellor for 10 years before he became PM in 2007). Brown and May became PM following the resignation of the incumbent and faced no genuine leadership contest.

Both could not evolve from their normal aggressive and obstinate nature into confident and inspiring leaders when they became PM. They were very weak communicators and poor delegators. Brown and May lacked the empathy to connect convincingly with colleagues and the wider public.

Tory Leadership Contenders

It is more than likely that the next Tory leader was a member of Theresa May’s cabinet. It is hard to pinpoint any significant legislation or success that most of the likely contenders have championed whilst in office.

But the race to succeed May is moving quickly with Boris Johnson (former Mayor of London) the clear favourite to win. But we know from previous Tory Party leadership races that the so-called favourite does not always achieve the big prize. What did Boris achieve as Foreign Secretary?

So with Boris in that unenviable position of front runner we have to look elsewhere for May’s short term successor.

Michael Gove (Environment Secretary) must feel that his moment has come once again. Sajid Javid (Home Secretary) has thrown his hat in the ring but I cannot see him winning.

Jeremy Hunt (Foreign Secretary) is also running, so too Dominic Raab (former BREXIT Secretary)  and Esther McVey (former DWP Secretary). I hear Graham Brady, of the powerful 1922 committee of Tory back benchers, is likely to declare as well.

Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) and Andrea Leadsom (former House of Commons leader) and Kit Malthouse have also declared their intentions to run.

The leading pro-EU candidate would have been Amber Rudd (DWP Secretary) but for now she has ruled herself out. Rudd is still tarnished over her handling of the Windrush scandal which even peeved some of her ardent right wing colleagues. What has Boris promised her in return for not running?

In Rudd’s absence Rory Stewart (International Development Secretary) looks to be the leading pro-EU candidate. Or is he?

Despite the ever increasing list of contenders it is hard to pick a clear-cut winner until each candidate reveals their agenda and the outcome of any upcoming televised debates. Which is why although Boris is the clear favourite now, his current strong showing can easily diminish the minute he opens his mouth and guarantees the Tory members and rivals a gaffe or two.

None of the Above?

My number one choice as the best person to effectively lead the Tory Party out of this chaos would be Penny Mordaunt (Defence Secretary). Mordaunt is a BREXITER but without the incendiary, drama or bluster of many of the current contenders. But given the number of candidates declared Mordaunt may opt not to run this time. But she has a solid record at the international and local level.

My wildcard choice would be Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. Davidson is not afraid of telling on her southern based colleagues to toughen up and is no fan of Boris. But having just returned from maternity leave, Davidson may be inclined to remain north of the border.

Davidson is not a MP but that is a minor detail if she was willing to run. Yes, the Scottish Tories had a nightmare (coming 4th) in the recent European elections but the party took a bashing nationwide due to May’s poor leadership.

A Mordaunt/Davidson leadership could unite the warring factions of the Tory party and appeal to younger voters. Similar to the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown pact in the Labour Party during the 1990s.

No Time for Tears

Some leading Tories have said that the next leader/PM has to be a BREXITER. Not true.

The Tories need a leader who will lead. Someone who empowers the cabinet, inspires the public and displays honest and flexibility to all stakeholders. The next leader should be a good communicator, listens and has a clear vision of how to carry the country forward at this critical time.

Given the Tories have a minority government the new leader has to display excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with the other parties in parliament. Even Labour.

The Tories need a leader who can win at least 335 seats at the next general election and not having to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to govern effectively. A very tall order.

The UK needs the next Tory leader/PM to immediately tackle violent crime, ease the poverty rate, resolve BREXIT and stand up to John Bolton.

Will the Trend of Dreadful Prime Ministers Continue?

When Gordon Brown lost the 2010 general election he was described by some observers (even some former colleagues) as Britain’s worst prime minister in living memory. May has certainly eclipsed Brown.

The question now is will May’s immediate successor be an improvement on her, Brown and David Cameron? Given that in 2016 Brown and Cameron were regarded – by a survey of 82 academics – as 2 of the worst prime ministers since the 2nd World War.

Image result for theresa may crying

Joining a select band?

 

 

 

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2019 Men’s Cricket World Cup in England & Wales!

It is finally here!

The men’s cricket 50-over World Cup starts this Thursday. Fans across the world cannot wait as the tournament bowls off at the Oval, London with host nation England up against South Africa.

The Teams

The other 8 teams in the tournament are Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and my beloved West Indies. The early stages of tournament is a round robin affair where each team plays against each other once with the top 4 going straight to the semi finals.

The romantic in me hopes that Afghanistan performs well. They have magic bowlers such as Rashid Khan and under coach Phil Simmons have had some impressive victories and leading up to the tournament. 18 year old Mujeeb Ur Rahman could be one of the breakthrough players of the World Cup.

As a die hard long suffering West Indies fan, my heart hopes they can reach at least the semi finals. But I fear their chances will be derailed by injuries and inconsistent form.  Some players are clearly not 100% fit and the cool temperatures in the UK could flag these twinges. I am concerned that key players such as Christopher Gayle, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Andre Russell and some others will have fitness issues to carry them through all 9 (hopefully 11) games. The batting is too fragile at times and the team will be relying heavily on veteran Gayle. I hope Shimron Hetmeyer has a great World Cup. If Russell stays fit and productive then we have a chance.

Perennial winners, Australia are coming into form at the right time and look a cohesive side to win their 6th title. The return of Steve Smith from his suspension is timely as the former skipper bats really well in English conditions.

On paper India has a strong and entertaining batting lineup. Leaving the left-hander Rishabh Pant behind was a major error by the selectors. His clean hitting and fearless approach will be missed. Most of Indian top batting order have not performed consistently well in British conditions with the exception of captain Virat Kohli. The bowling of Jasprit Bumrah is going to cause headaches to top order batsmen. A successful India will do wonders for their fans in in the UK.

Pakistan is the unknown quantity for me. They can beat any of the teams in the World Cup but just like the West Indies can easily self destruct. Too inconsistent to sustain a challenge to reach the semis. But Babar Azam is different class in 50-overs cricket. Both he and Imam-ul-Haq will be crucial to their chances.

South Africa has a strong balanced team and in Kagiso Rabada they have a bowler who will love the conditions and take key wickets. The fitness of Dale Steyn will be important to their success. Opening batsman Quinton de Kock does not know how to bat slowly, so if he gets in watch out for some real entertainment. But facing quality spin bowling could be their achillies heel.

England are the clear favourites given their tremendous form in recent years. Still, England has yet to win the World Cup which first began in 1975. In Josh Buttler and Eoin Morgan they have serious run machines. The challenge will be, can England handle the pressure of being favourites on home soil?  Their bowling attack is more potent with the addition of Jofra Archer. As a West Indian fan I am still peeved at how England relaxed their eligibility rules to allow Barbadian Archer to make the squad just in time for the tournament. Good luck to them :-(.

2015 quarter finalist, Bangladesh is my dark horse to make the semi finals. They play well in English conditions and is a very aggressive and intense team in the 50-over format. Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal are the players to watch. I am a big fan of captain Mushfiqur Rahim.

New Zealand is the usual World Cup dark team and in Trent Boult they have a fast bowler who is likely to get key early wickets. Their batting will rely on the fortunes of captain Kane Williamson.

Sri Lanka has sadly lost so many of their great players – due to retirement in recent years – thus I feel the the team is still in rebuilding mode.

Given the amount of games that each team will play in the prelims, fitness will be a key factor for those who can reach the semi finals.

Wins will be so important throughout the round-robin stage as knowing English and Welsh conditions, some matches are likely to be rained off or cut short due to poor light. This could leave some of the favourites at a disadvantage, if the weather prevents them from achieving maximum points from the lower ranked teams.

England and Wales – The Prefect Host

The UK is simply the perfect country for any cricket World Cup as each team will be guaranteed great crowds at all the matches. Even the tie between Bangladesh and Afghanistan is bound to attract a decent and energetic crowd.

My semi finalists are Bangladesh, England, Australia and India. I’ll leave it at that.

For West Indies sake I hope I am wrong and that our captain Jason Holder will be lifting the ICC World Cup Trophy on 14th July. Just like Clive Loyd last did for the West Indies in 1979.

Image result for clive lloyd 1979 world cup

1979 – Can the West Indies end their 40 year drought?

 

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Is the PNP Finally in Renewal Mode?

The popular term “A week is a long time in politics” has recently manifested itself in Jamaica.

4 April 2019 – Portland Goes 100% Vaz

The governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate Anne Marie Vaz defeated the popular Peoples National Party (PNP) candidate Damion Crawford to become Member of Parliament for Eastern Portland, following a very heated and high profile by-election.

Crawford initially took the by-election loss very hard but given he was there in the constituency for less than 6 weeks I think he did well, considering. Anne Marie Vaz is a permanent resident of Eastern Portland has been preparing for this moment for 2 years.

PNP Licking Political Wounds?

This by-election result was regarded by many observers as a shock given Eastern Portland has long been a safe PNP seat. The defeat has led to growing talk that the PNP’s chances of any future political successes were dwindling fast. The PNP’s supporters were feeling rather flat and downcast.

Indeed, the PNPYO (it’s youth arm) were not impressed with the overall performance of their senior colleagues and made their views abundantly clear. The PNPYO called for – amongst its 20+ recommendations – for a reshuffle of the shadow cabinet. PNPYO has felt that some senior colleagues were trying to muzzle their voices in calling for real changes to the party.

Youth arm blasts PNP top brass

Understandably, Peter Phillips leadership of the PNP was facing serious questions. I have suggested that Phillips should at least face a serious leadership challenge if he was not prepared to raise his game.

The win in Eastern Portland had energised the JLP even further. Some senior JLP figures  have boldly stated that no PNP seat is safe anymore.

Then a week after the Eastern Portland by-election result, along came some stunning news that gave life and optimism to the fortunes of the PNP.

12 April 2019 – Court rules NIDS Unconstitutional

The PNP had won their legal challenge at the Supreme Court over aspects of the JLP government’s planned National Identification and Registration Act (NIDS). In fact, the PNP legal team got more than what they expected when the court ruled the entire NIDS legislation unconstitutional.

Suddenly the PNP got an unexpected opening and since then they have turned up pressure on the government in ways not since the JLP returned to office in 2016.

The much maligned Peter Phillips has raised his game and has become more vocal, resolute and visible as a leader.

Damion Crawford’s Ressurrection?

Damion Crawford – despite his recent lost – is acting like a winner. His immediate humbling reaction -via media interviews – to the loss has earned him respect across the political divide. Crawford has promised to remain in Eastern Portland constituency and fight the next general elections.

By conducting free mathematics lessons for students who are perparing for end of year exams in Portland, Crawford has earned plaudits from students who attended those classes.

Image result for damion crawford maths

Crawford conducting a maths class in Portland



On Crawford’s return to opposition senate benches, government Senator Don Wehby said to him  “Let me say this with all sincerity: We need more people in politics like you with that passion, that belief without compromise in terms of what is right for this country,”.

Peter Phillips’ promised shadow cabinet shuffle should see a promotion for Crawford to one of the more important portfolios.

Lisa Hanna – Renewed and Revved Up?

In Gordon House recently, Lisa Hanna, opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs and trade, prompted Prime Minister Andrew Holness to answer questions about his recent meeting with US President Donald Trump that was held in Florida.

Hanna raised concerns on why Holness was not taking a more neutral stance over the US government’s current hardline policies and actions towards the Venezuelan government. Hanna was not impressed at how Holness seemed to sideline CARICOM in order to engage and back the Trump administration over Venezuela.

That exchange in Gordon House led to Holness admitting that it was better for his government to be at the table with the US rather than doing the opposite. To me that is such a dangerous stance especially when you have neoconservative hawks such as John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, driving the regime change policy against the current Venezuelan government.

[The latest mixed messages by Bolton (keen on invading Venezuela) and Trump (not 100% keen after speaking to Putin) highlights the potential risks and confusion that Holness should keep Jamaica away from.]

Washington Post, 8 May – A frustrated Trump questions his administration’s Venezuela strategy

During the sectoral debate, Hanna, delivered one of the best speeches I have heard from any parliament. Her speech was informative, succinct, humourous, engaging, timely and constructive. Hanna earned applause from her PNP colleagues and also government ministers across the floor including Prime Minister Holness and Finance Minister, Nigel Clarke. Karl Samuda, Head of Government Business said of Hanna’s speech: “Mr Speaker, it is fair to say that was indeed an excellent presentation”.

Good Shadow/Bad Shadow

The once solid health minister, Christopher Tufton is facing a more resolute and confident opponent in shadow spokesman Dr Dayton Campbell, who has managed to wrong foot him much to the government’s embarrassment.

Despite this up turn in the PNP’s political fortunes, Peter Phillips has quite rightly promised to reshuffle his shadow cabinet and remove the ineffective performers.

Other PNP MPs that have improved their efforts as effective opposition spokespersons include Peter Bunting and Mikael Phillips.

Senate

In the senate, the PNP continues to hold the upper hand own against the government. Senators Lambert Brown, Donna Scott-Mottley and K.D. Knight are just a powerful trio whose differing styles blends perfectly in keeping the government members on the backfoot.

The recent addition of Dr Andre Haughton (terrific maiden speech) to the Senate was a wise move by the PNP. [I would have preferred Ashley Ann Foster, but I am not even sure if she is still in politics]. Thus along with Crawford back in the Senate, it will ensure the PNP does not let up in its scrutiny of the government.

[The addition of young Robert Nesta Morgan to the senate will be give the government much needed back bone and gravitas in the upper house. Senator Delroy Williams (Mayor of Kingston & St Andrew) is a quiet but effective voice on the government benches and is one to watch for higher office]

What next for PNP?

Peter Phillips has promised a reshuffle of the shadow cabinet which is long overdue. But the PNP still falls flat on the issue of including more women in its senior ranks.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness continues to be the JLP’s main trump card with the public and is growing into a formidable debater in Gordon House. But Holness is not superman and thus he is undermined by the ineffectiveness and performances of some of his own ministers. Holness may need a mini reshuffle of his own. [Having 4 Ministers without Portfolio in the cabinet based at the prime minister’s office still looks a bit complicated.]

Can the PNP keep up this new found momentum of effective opposition?

Jamaicans, what ever their political persuasion, deserves and expects an effective opposition. Thankfully it looks like the PNP have woken up from its hiatus.

But as we know in Jamaican politics, all this new found energy could easily blow up if the PNP leadership gets complacent – even for just one week.

Image result for lisa hanna gordon house april 2019

PNP 2019 – Finally Getting it Right?

 

Further sources:

Lisa Hanna’s speech can be found at 2:30:00.

 

 

 

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