The Mighty Diamonds – Royalties Dread

Last week I heard an interview that featured Donald “Tabby” Shaw and Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson who both are members of reggae group the Mighty Diamonds. The other member, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson, was absent due to illness.

Now the Mighty Diamonds has been singing since 1969. By the late 1970s they recorded numerous international hits such as “The Right Time”, “Africa”, “I Need a Roof” and “Shame and Pride”. Songs that consistently still sell well even with today’s younger generation.

The Mighty Diamonds wrote all their songs. So I was surprised  to hear Tabby and Judge state that they earned no royalties from the sale of those hits.


Over the years we have heard stories of reggae singers/songwriters being ripped off, short changed or tricked into signing away their publishing rights without realising the consequences.

From the 1960s – 1980s many Jamaican artistes never knew their songs were being sold in volumes overseas.

  • In 1987 I  saw music by my own cousin – Junie Ranks – being sold at Tower Records then Europe’s largest record store. Junie had no idea that her songs were released.
  • The late Alton Ellis used to tell us stories of the rough times experienced when he first moved to London from Jamaica despite his songs doing well in the UK reggae charts.
  • Singer Marcia Griffiths once said that all she received from some of her earlier hits at Studio One was “lunch money”.

Fans purchased these records and must have enriched someone, some organisation, some family, but not always the singer/songwriters.

Today many of these iconic Jamaican artistes are living under harsh conditions. Some face major health issues which is costly. We only need to see the health and financial pressures that plagued the late Frankie Paul in his final days. It was well known that Paul suffered from financial trickery by unscrupulous record company officials.

Recently the Mighty Diamonds performed on stage in Jamaica. But while Tabby and Judge were mobile on stage Bunny stood still because of his own health issues and you felt for him.

Despite being in their 60s the Mighty Diamonds continue to tour overseas to make a living. Yet the proceeds from the hits they composed should have provided them with a comfortable pension package. We know good money from reggae sales was made by record companies during the 1970s.


During the 1970s the Mighty Diamonds’ records were sold in the UK on the Frontline label. Frontline was setup by Virgin’s Richard Branson.

In his best selling book “Screw It, Let’s Do It” Branson wrote:

“(1977-1978) I went to Jamaica as a holiday but I also intended to look for bands and sign them up, so I took a suitcase filled with money…. Fortunately I had cash in my case that enabled me to sign up almost twenty bands and some toasters. We sold a lots of records with them; a perfect example of my motto- have fun and the money will come….

Further on in the book Branson summed up that exciting period of his life:

...I had signed up bands in Jamaica and ended up with an airline and (Necker) island.

The late Clement “Coxsone” Dodd – founder of Studio One label – was notorious for not paying his artistes their due royalties. Today a number those former singers from that period are philosophical about their experiences with Dodd. Despite Dodd’s actions some are grateful for the exposure he gave them. That sounds all well and good but someone is earning today what should simply be theirs.

  • Should the reggae fan be smarter at how and why they buy records – especially music from the 1960s/70s? 
  • Should record companies be forced to inform the consumer who earns from any sales?

As consumers we have become smarter in buying food products thanks to better labeling e.g. Freetrade. Maybe each CD/download etc should provide a percentage breakdown on where the proceeds of record sales ends up. Especially for albums.

Would the Mighty Diamonds fan purchase “The Right Time” if they knew that the songwriters would earn zero from the sale?

If I knew back then that so few Jamaican artistes earned so little royalties from their endeavours then maybe my record collection would have been a lot smaller.

Posted in jamaica, jamaican, music, reggae, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

World Press Freedom Index – Jamaica ranked 8

World Press Freedom Index for 2017 was recently published and out of the roughly 180 countries analysed Jamaica was ranked 8. (In 2016 Jamaica was ranked 10.) Number 1 was Norway followed by Sweden. The British and US media came in at 38 and 41 respectively.

The World Press Freedom Index report is published by Reporters without Borders – Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).

The annual index analysis focuses on media freedom, diversity of opinions allowed, independence of media, transparency, the legal environment, and abuses or violence directed at journalists

The index is not there to comment on the quality of journalism; which in Jamaica for me is definitely top ten material. Especially in the coverage of sports, human stories, local politics, youth, local communities, entertainment and education.

Part of analysis by RSF is drawn from questionnaires completed by the local media professionals, lawyers and sociologists.

According to the latest findings by RSF ..

“Jamaica ranks among the countries that most respect freedom of information. The very occasional physical attacks on journalists must be offset against this, but no serious act of violence or threat to media freedom has been reported since February 2009, a month that saw two cases of abuse of authority by the Kingston police. The law decriminalizing defamation passed by the house of representatives in 2013 was a step in the right direction.”

Abuse against Journalists 

My attention in the index findings was drawn mainly to the issue of abuse of journalists. How broad is the definition of abuse by RSF? Does it cover sexual harassment?

In Jamaica it is common knowledge that sexual harassment affects many professionals during the course of their duties.

In 2016 the Jamaica Observer published article citing examples of the sexual harassment faced by some local female journalists.

The article entitled Caribbean women journalists and those testy moments with men provided examples of awkward situations that journalists have found themselves in….

  • “Basically, male interviewees sometimes want to ask you for your number or just touch you or hug you inappropriately,”
  • “I was also approached for a dinner “date” once by another (govt) minister. It was stunningly awkward. I was outraged but stunned when I mentioned the incident to my male editor and he recommended I go on this date to solicit information. It felt like a suggestion of prostitution for news,”
  • “I have been in a situation where an aide to a minister was seeking to date me and I politely said no and he proceeded to angrily curse me out and walk behind. I was trying to walk away from him and he was following behind me cursing and so on.”
  • We live in a region that does not take rape reports and stalking reports seriously. Imagine me going to the police station to tell the police his boss – the minister – sent me lewd messages … you get the picture…

Transparency, Media Freedom, Independence of Media 

The index’s categories on media freedom, transparency and media independence also caught my eye.

Like most developed and developing countries, Jamaica’s journalists is bound to face challenges and obstacles in carrying out their roles effectively and unconditionally.

  • Respected sports journalist Wayne Walker has spoken of his frustration in getting access to senior football administrators since his last probing interview of local president Horace Burrell in 2015.
  • Other sports journalists admit to giving soft interviews (or avoid harsh criticism) to leading sport administrators and sportstars for fear of being blackballed.
  • In 2016 the Press Association of Jamaica complained  at the lack of any press conferences by new Prime Minister Andrew Holness. (The Prime Minister had given a few one on one interviews.)
  • Holness’ predecessor Portia Simpson-Miller hardly conducted press conferences and didn’t give any one-on-one interviews throughout her latest term in office. (One of the disappointments when President Barack Obama visited Jamaica in 2015 was that no press conference was held.)
  • In 2016 the Miami Herald published an article regarding allegations made against Jamaican MP James Robertson. For days the media in the Jamaica refuse to touch the article and if they did never mentioned James Robertson by name. Was it fear why the media withheld the “prominent politician’s” name? If a similar overseas report featured a Jamaican dancehall artiste he/she would have been named immediately.
  • Digicel Communications – owned by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien – is a major employer, sponsor and advertiser in Jamaica. Since 2016 O’Brien has been embroiled in a highly publicised lawsuit against the Irish State & 2 Irish politicians for comments made in the Parliament about his banking affairs. [very unusual for any democratic parliament to be sued in this way] Why was this story not covered by the media in Jamaica? Was media freedom compromised?
  • What is the perception when we see Danville Walker – Managing Director of Jamaica Observer – chairing a number of state bodies that covers areas such as customs, environment and trade? Can there be authentic media independence from the Jamaica Observer when covering these state bodies? Given Walker used his paper to defend these controversial appointments.

Indeed Jamaica may have scored well in the index despite the above minute observations. Canada’s media – ranked 22 – has had its level of state spying and intimidation. The US media has had their own challenges of intimidation by both the Obama and Trump administration.

Again, the index is about media freedom and not the quality of reporting.






Posted in human rights, jamaica, jamaican, journalism, journalist, media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Corbyn’s Escape to Victory?

Sometimes even when you have consistently underperformed at your job, an opportunity to finally shine presents itself that is too-good-to-be-true.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has that chance thanks to Prime Minister Theresa May calling a general election for 8 June.

May’s arrogance to call this snap election – last general election was in 2015 – comes from a belief that Corbyn has zero chance of defeating her ruling Conservative Party.

But in recent general elections across the globe we have become accustomed to witnessing shock results.

Corbyn can win enough seats to lead a coalition but not win any overall majority. Corbyn has to seize this moment with common sense, realism and astute political maneuvering to be Prime Minister.

Corbyn has to swallow his political pride, his die hard political convictions and to appeal to middle Britain. Corbyn must convince the electorate he is a leader that can work effectively with others.

So what should Jeremy do to boost his cause for state power?

  1. Corbyn has to lead the campaign from the front and set the agenda and pace.
  2. Corbyn should bring in a campaign team that knows how to win. Labour’s campaign should not be run by just Corbyn loyalists.
  3. Corbyn needs to run a campaign on aspirations and not on fear.
  4. Have 5-7 key positive themes that matter to the electorate and stick to it. E.g. immigration, national security, BREXIT, health, jobs, economic growth, pensions.
  5. Apply elements of the Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump playbook for this brief campaign. e.g. Effective messaging to bypass the mostly anti- Corbyn media.
  6. Work on the deal with Scottish National Party (SNP) & Liberal Democrats to target certain vulnerable Tory seats.

Corbyn has to confront the 170+ Labour MPs that hate his guts and do some deal to ensure a Labour victory is the sole priority of this election and not personal vendettas. Corbyn should negotiate a ceasefire on the internal backstabbing as the chance of state power looms.

Some Labour MPs have openly said they won’t support Corbyn which is so childish.

May as PM has been a disappointment. Her Cabinet has been uninspiring with the likes of David Davis, Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson failing to impress in their high profile portfolios. Their shadow opposites in the Labour Party have been equally dismal.

A few days ago Corbyn ruled out any deal with the SNP. Corbyn must realise that he cannot win power without help from the SNP. He also has to rely on the Liberal Democrats winning seats from the Conservatives in the Home Counties and West Country.

[Hard to believe that Labour is polling poorly against the Conservatives in former strongholds such as Wales and Scotland.]

Corbyn’s must remember that –  in Northern Ireland – his hero the late Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein/IRA) was prepared to share power with life long enemy Ian Paisley (DUP). So Jeremy should have publicly ruled nothing out.

In Scotland, Labour has a mountain to climb given the Scottish Conservatives have overtaken them under leadership of the impressive Ruth Davidson.

May has hinted that she will not take part in any live televised debates with other party leaders. This is the height of complacency by the cocksure Tory leader. Corbyn and the other politicial leaders should go ahead with the debates and exploit May’s disrespect to the electorate.

So it was disappointing to read that one of Corbyn’s spokesmen had stated that the Labour leader would only participate in the televised debates if May appears too. Really? This kind of narrow minded thinking is one of my concerns about Labour’s campaign team.

Corbyn’s team should learn lessons from Justin Trudeau’s surprise victory in Canada’s federal elections.

During Canada’s 2015 elections PM Stephen Harper participated in just 1of the 5 televised debates. Harper’s main opposition rival was Tom Mulcair from the New Democratic Party. Mulcair refused to participate in the debates that didn’t include Harper.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau (then 3rd in initial polling & seats) seized on their absence and excelled in the debates. This no doubt had an impact in Trudeau’s seismic victory at the elections. The Liberal Party gained a staggering 148 seats.

If Labour runs a smart campaign they can win enough seats to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. If not, Labour may be in the recycle bin for generations.

Finally, to Labour Party campaign leaders – keep Ken Livingstone and his like far from the campaign and the media. I liked Ken when he was my MP in North West London.  But today he has become selfishly toxic which hasn’t helped his old chum Jeremy.


Posted in BBC, Boris Johnson, BREXIT, britain, British Labour Party, british politics, canada, Current affairs, donald trump, england, great britain, jeremy corbyn, justin trudeau, labour party, NEWS, politics, theresa May, UK NEWS, uk politics, united kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Corbyn’s Time Up?

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn continues to have a rough time. Labour’s lost at the recent by-election in Copeland to the Tories was the bluntest of rebukes for Corbyn.

Corbyn is fire fighting on so many fronts whether from his own MPs, senior Labour members, the media and the public. Prime Minister Theresa May is the least of his troubles. Corbyn has yet to make inroads on May’s lukewarm performance so far as PM.

The recent passing of Labour MP Gerald Kaufman means another by-election looms. A by-election Corbyn cannot afford to lose or win with a slim majority. (At the last general elections in 2015 Kaufman won 67% of the vote in the constituency of Manchester Gorton).

Today the Jeremy Corbyn-run Labour Party looks out of sorts, amateurish and disjointed.

Labour’s Shadow Cabinet needs a revamp. But making new appointments is not easy given the number of resignations Corbyn’s had since 2015.

Corbyn has to reverse his flagging leadership immediately.

How can Corbyn can reverse his slide?

1. Corbyn needs to appear on political debating shows – such as BBC’s weekly Question Time (TV) and Any Questions (Radio) – on a regular basis. Since he became leader in 2015 I cannot recall Corbyn appearing on such programmes – outside the Labour leadership debates.

2. Corbyn should call out some of those Labour MPs and senior members who continue to undermine his leadership. But do so in an constructive witty manner.

[Corbyn should publicly accept that he cannot expect 100% loyalty from all Labour MPs on any given policy. Given he was one of Labour’s most rebellious MPs during his 30+ years as a backbencher.]

3. Corbyn needs to replace his support team with more pragmatic, positive minded and streetwise individuals. Corbyn’s inner circle is too trade union centric. He needs staff with proven experience of modern effective communications strategies and reputation building.

4.  Corbyn must have a more aspirational approach to his policies on post-BREXIT economy, Housing, NHS, Education and Immigration.

5. Corbyn must move Labour’s economic policy to the centre-left. This would mean ditching his current shadow chancellor and friend John McDonnell whose ideas do not appeal the middle class vote.

6. Corbyn should travel to EU countries, US and other G20 nations to learn about their approach to effective policies and good governance. Corbyn should work on building networks with politicians in these countries.

He needs to build his profile as a statesman beyond the comfort zone of the British Isles. E.g.  Corbyn should be visiting Canada to develop good working relationships with the current Liberal government. 

7. During the recent US election campaign Corbyn should have visited there regularly to observe first hand the approach taken by both leading Democratic and Republican candidates.

Corbyn and his team should now be analysing and learning from the communication/campaign strategies of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But also learn from the mistakes made by Hillary Clinton.

8. Corbyn needs to bring a personal touch to his social media messaging. Corbyn’s twitter account at times is too formal and too political. It lacks any flair or humour and  views away from politics.

Why doesn’t Corbyn comment on his beloved Arsenal football club? Especially after Arsenal’s 2 recent humiliating losses to Bayern Munich. 10-2!

9. Donald Trump constantly complains about the negative media coverage he has received over the past 18 months. But he still has Fox News, Piers Morgan, Nigel Farage and Rush Limbaugh in his corner.

Jeremy Corbyn has no media support in the UK. Even the Guardian is showing signs of completely giving up on him.

Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph  are not likely to ever publish a single positive article on the Labour leader. But Corbyn can turn such negative articles to his advantage.

Corbyn could use his twitter account to counter some of the negative coverage. Corbyn should occasionally even retweet some of negative articles with a witty defence.

The UK needs a resurgent Labour Party that is challenging  Theresa May and proving itself as a viable government in waiting.

If Corbyn feels he is not up to the challenge then he should move on for the sake of non-Tory voters.

Posted in American Politics, BREXIT, britain, British Labour Party, british politics, donald trump, great britain, jeremy corbyn, labour party, politics, theresa May, UK, uk politics, united kingdom, westminster | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lindy Delapenha – Jamaica’s Finest Sporting Personality

img_1960Jamaica’s Lindy Delapenha -post WW2 British Air Forces veteran, sporting giant and media pioneer – passed away last week. He was 89.

To me Lindy was Jamaica’s greatest all round sporting personality. Some may say Usain Bolt, but when you add up Lindy’s achievements across numerous sports plus his accomplishments and influence as a broadcaster, he is a hard act to match.

As a young man Lindy excelled at many different sports including athletics, gymnastics, cricket, diving, football, boxing, golf. In the end Lindy chose to play professional football and became a pioneer for black players in England.

Lindy won the England’s top league title with Portsmouth FC in 1949. Injuries had limited his playing time there before he transferred in 1950 to Middlesbrough football club in the north east where he became a legend.

Returning to Jamaica in the 1960s Lindy became head of sports for the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) when he also developed the media careers of Allie McNab, Patrick Anderson, Tino Geddes and Hugh Crosskill jr.

Lindy brought to our screens English football, US sports, the football World Cup, Commonwealth Games, West Indies cricket and The Olympics. He thus influenced many Jamaicans from any early age to support English football clubs. No doubt young Jamaicans were inspired to take up sprinting after seeing on tv the likes of Donald Quarrie and Merelene Ottey perform at the Olympics.

Lindy was such an engaging story teller. To young viewers like me I was fascinated by his tales of living in England. Lindy would discuss his army activities after World War 2 concluded, facing racism in England, playing multiple sports and the overall culture from a black perspective of 1940s/50s Britain.


As a kid growing up in Jamaica during the 1970s/80s I learnt some much about world football just from listening to Lindy’s stories.

Lindy was the first person I heard mention the great Hungarian side of the 1950s. At the time I didn’t even know Hungary was good at football.

Lindy would talk glowingly of that team  and run off their names Ferenc Puskás, Sándor KoscisZoltán CziborNándor Hidegkuti etc in numerous interviews.

I thought Lindy was talking rubbish. That was until when living in England I saw archive footage of how that Hungarian team destroyed England (then the “best team in the world”) twice during the 1950s. Even today English football has never forgotten that humiliation from Hungary.

In the 1990s English football fans at work or during pub talk were surprised by my knowledge of that Hungarian team. What they didn’t know was that all I was doing was simply quoting Lindy. So when I started running off the Hungarian team’s names by heart that gave me so much street cred.

Whenever I came across older Middlesbrough supporters at London football matches I would ask if they saw Lindy play live. Those that saw Lindy play would speak of his speed and powerful shots on goal. Some would say Lindy was the best player they saw at the club.

In fact Lindy was so fast that Great Britain sought out Lindy to represent them at London’s 1948 Olympics in the 100m. But as Lindy was a professional sportsman he was not allowed to participate in amateur events like The Olympics.

I admired the fact Lindy just never stopped working in media even in his 80s. He previewed English Premier League matches and Jamaican horse racing on his weekly radio show.

When asked who was the best player he had ever seen Lindy would say England’s Sir Stanley Matthews.  Today Matthews is regarded by football experts as one of the top 5 English players of all time. Matthews and Lindy played in the same era at the same position – outside right. Ironically one of Lindy’s colleagues at Middlesbrough said if Lindy was white no one would have of heard of Matthews.

One wonders what would have happened to his career had Lindy not rejected a move to Manchester United.

Linda Delapenha is an extraordinary Jamaican whose influence is still in evidence today.

A sign of how Lindy was still appreciated in England was shown over the weekend by two of his former clubs – Portsmouth and Mansfield Town – who paid their own tribute to him prior to the start of their matches.


Portsmouth (blue) and Exeter players remembering Lindy Delapenha


Mansfield Town (right) & Leyton Orient pay their respects to Lindy–Jamaica-s-greatest-footballer-is-a-man-ahead-of-his-time_87920

Posted in black history, Caribbean, cricket, england, football, jamaica, jamaican, media, soccer, united kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pioneers of Jamaican Music Speak to Brown Sugar


img_1952Radio programmes in Jamaica continues to be one of the key strengths in local media here.

Whether it’s in the area of current affairs, sports, health, politics, law or music the quality of such radio shows is impressive.

One such programme is  Night Cap “The Stories Behind the Music” on Thursdays on RJR from 8pm – midnight.

Hosted by Heather Grant aka Brown Sugar,  Night Cap – “The Stories Behind the Music” features one-on-one interviews (sometimes 2 guests) with Jamaican singers, musicians, producers who were integral to the development of Jamaican music (ska, rock steady, reggae) from the 1960s onwards.

Yes, the guests are given the whole 4 hours to tell their stories, mixed with the songs they were involved in creating. For the final 2 hours of the show Brown Sugar take calls from the public which have included former class mates and future guests to the show.

Guest to the show have included

  • Singers:  Errol Dunkley, Horace Andy, Max Romeo, Dennis Walks, Derrick Morgan, Tony Gregory, Boris Gardiner, Hugh Brown, Dennis Alcapone, Orville “Bagga” Case, Karen Smith, Pam Hall, Tommy Cowan, Carlene Davies, Derrick Morgan, George Nooks plus Earl Morgan & Leroy Sibbles both of the Heptones
  • Producers: Bunny Lee, Niney, King Jammy
  • Musicians: Sly Dunbar, Joe Isaacs, Lloyd Parks, Robbie Lyn

The stories told are funny, spiritual and at times moving. The guests described the hardships, the good days, funny moments on tour and how the music gave them a sustained purpose in life even today.

From the interviews you hear anecdotes that may not be found written in any books. (Apart from Bob Marley we know there are very few biographies of other Jamaican musical figures).

Anecdotes from the interviews so far included:

  • How Max Romeo initially hated the recording of his controversial U.K. hit “Wet Dream”, until his producer Lee Perry told him to “go sleep” and wait for the public’s reaction.
  • A 15 year old Sly Dunbar played on the U.K. chart topping “Double Barrel” by Dave and Ansell Collins.
  • The pride Lloyd Parks feels even today in having played on some of Dennis Brown’s greatest songs such “Love Has Found It’s Way”.
  • Horace Andy wrote the first lines to Dennis Brown’s “Created By  The Father” and handed it to D Brown as a gift to complete and record.
  • Horace Andy nickname is Sleepy because since childhood he is prone to dosing off easily – even at one of his own gigs when in the front row.
  • Errol Dunkley wrote and sang his first song in 1962 aged 11 produced by the late Prince Buster.
  • Leroy Sibbles (of the Heptones) signed Errol Dunkley to Studio One records.
  • How significant Leroy Sibbles was to Jamaican music.  Sibbles regrets that his impact as a singer, songwriter, producer, musician, arranger and A&R man was never fully documented at the time.
  • Sonia Pottinger was well respected as she was one of the few record producers to pay the singers/musicians on time.
  • The strong influence of the Chinese community in the music business during the 1960s/70s.

One of my funnier moments listening to the show was when Sibbles was told by Brown Sugar that his former Heptones band-mate Earl Morgan will be the guest the following week. Sibbles turned to Brown Sugar and said “Tell him to talk the truth“.

One common theme shared by some of the guests is the  affection and admiration they had for their friend the late Dennis Brown.

Another common thread from the show is how a small area of Kingston (covering Trench Town, Jones Town, Waterhouse) was where many of these musical pioneers spent their childhood and developed their craft.

By the end of each program you can sense how grateful and humble the guests feel being interviewed at such lengths for Jamaicans to hear. As most feel their input in to Jamaican music has been largely ignored and unappreciated in local circles.

I do hope the makers of this brilliant programme promote and share the interviews with other media houses & reggae historians globally.  Especially in Europe and Japan where these musicians are revered like music royalty.

RJR could approach airlines that travel to the Caribbean to suggest including these interviews as part of any in-flight entertainment.

A programme well worth a listen.


Since this blog was first posted Brown Sugar has interviewed the likes of

  • Junior Tucker -His first hits at age 7 had Dennis Brown and Roman Stewart singing backing vocals. Tucker recorded music with Stacy Lattisaw which has never been released.
  • The Silvertones
  • Wayne Armond (Chalice) – biggest hit ‘Still Love You’ was based on the breakup of his marriage
  • Fredlocks – sang at Studio One as part of the short lived group The Lyrics
  • Roland Burrell – distant cousin of singer Shaggy.
  • Johnny Clarke – was highly rated at table tennis
  • Count Prince Miller
  • Carlton Manning (Carlton & The Shoes) – “The Shoes” was a reference to the pride he took keeping his Clarks shoes very neat.
  • The Viceroys – despite being formed in the 1960s they first toured overseas just over a decade ago.



Posted in jamaica, jamaican, music, radio, reggae | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bunting Bluffs His Leadership Bid?

Peter Bunting has decided not to challenge Peter Phillips to succeed Portia Simpson-Miller as leader of Jamaica’s People’s National Party (PNP).

In his statement Bunting also felt Phillips is the right person to lead the current party of opposition. So far no contender has come forward to challenge Phillips.

Buntings decision is strange given he has been hinting all along his ambition to lead the PNP once Simpson-Miller steps down.

Are the other PNP MPs afraid to run against Phillips? One horse race is never good for any democratic organisation. Especially when choosing a new leader.

Phillips has been credited with steadying the economy when he was Finance Minister (2012-2016). But economic growth under his management was minimal and never reached 2%.

Being classed a steady finance minister is no guarantee route to being an effective political party leader and the next PM. Managing government finances and leading a country requires different attributes.

An effective finance minister has to act like a gloomy big bully to force govt ministers/departments to cut spending annually in the name of efficiency. While a party leader is required to inspire and promise the electorate a feel good environment.

PNP members who emphatically endorse Phillips seem to forget he was campaign director for the recent general elections that the PNP government lost in February 2016.

Phillips has been a seasoned Cabinet member and has held a number of senior positions including the daunting National Security.

Ken Clarke

The current PNP leadership ‘race’ reminds me of the then opposition U.K. Conservative Party leadership battle in 2005, when Ken Clarke was the clear favorite.

Similar to Phillips, Clarke was a seasoned Cabinet minister at government departments such as Education, Health, Home Office, Treasury etc.

All assumed Clarke (or even David Davis) would win the leadership easily until a little known 39 year old MP – David Cameron – showed up and won.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown – another former British Chancellor of the Exchequer – succeeded Tony Blair as Labour Party leader and Prime Minister in 2007.

Labour Party members and MPs felt Brown “deserved” his new appointments. Brown faced no serious challenge to be Labour leader. A move that has proved costly for Labour even today.

Brown just could not connect with the average voter. The abrasive style he ran the Treasury was never going to work as PM. Brown lost the 2010 general elections to David Cameron.

Edward Seaga

Edward Seaga was leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) for over 30 years. Seaga is regarded by many as the finest Jamaican finance minister in its 54 year history. But as JLP leader Seaga won just one contested general election against the PNP and lost five.

Andrew Holness

5 years ago Andrew Holness was handed the JLP leadership (& PM role) without an internal election and in less than 3 months lost the general elections to the PNP.

In 2013,  JLP’s finance spokesman Audley Shaw then challenged Holness for the leadership which the former loss. Even though that leadership race was a bruising affair (half the MPs wanted Andrew out), it forced Holness to toughen up as a leader. That tough race must have boosted Holness’ chances & confidence ahead of February’s general elections. Shaw is now Finance Minister again.

So Bunting’s early bail out of the leadership race is disappointing. He had a fighting chance. [Phillips had previously ran twice for the leadership of the PNP and lost on both occasions.]

Peter Phillips may indeed be the right person to lead the PNP. But coronation of new party political leaders without any genuine challengers is never healthy politics.

I hope there is a leadership battle for the PNP’s top job. Party members should know the key issues and priorities of the contenders before he/she is elected.

  • What are their plans for violent crime, education, youth etc?
  • What will be different about their leadership compared to the previous leaders?

2016 has shown that the normal rules on politics has changed  right across the globe.

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