Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jamaica Election 2011: The Worst Campaign I have ever seen

I am trying to analyze the reason why the JLP failed so miserable at the polls. For a full understanding we must return to the events of 2007, the then JLP opposition ran a very good campaign but still only managed to beat the PNP by a small margin even after that party’s 18 years in power. In 2007 the JLP ran a campaign on two fronts:

First they launched personal attacks on the character of Portia Simpson Miller painting her as a low class, dirty, vulgar and uneducated individual who belongs downstairs in the houses of wealthy upper St. Andrew families, cleaning floors and washing dishes and not worthy of being an upstairs maid since as far as they are concern a person like her cannot be presented to dignitaries, I cringe at some of the words I hear to describe her, one person called her a "Dutty Black Gal, who should be scrubbing floors". While Portia Simpson Miller may not be my first choice for a leader and for that matter neither was Bruce Golding, I found the characterization of her disgusting, dirty and underhanded as well as racist, "classist". I respect her however as a woman who have defied the odds and reached the top of her game, how history will Judge her is totally in her hands.

Second they ran a campaign painting the PNP Government as corrupt, firing a salvos of corruption charges and declaring that the Government was mismanaging the Jamaican Economy and in so doing set themselves up as the Party commanding the Moral authority, taking the moral high ground  as they declare that they were an anti-corruption Party who would Govern with total transparency, a level of openness never before seen in Jamaica’s political landscape, it was a brilliant campaign, executed with precision using every means at their disposal, every media outlet, The PNP was like a boxer pinned in the corner of the ring, against the ropes as the JLP rained blows after blows, body shots and uppercuts on the PNP, but they still only managed to win by a small margin.

As a side note: “I have heard it said that the entire 18 years of PNP Government was the worst and that it was 18 years of mismanagement, no growth and corruption. However I cannot help but to think that if life was so hard, so terrible for the entire 18 years then why was the PNP left in power for 18 long years? Voted into office in 1989, the PNP was first returned to power in 1993, then again in 1997 and finally PNP returned to power in 2002 after which they were voted out of office in 2007 by the smallest of margin. So it seems whatever the people thought of the PNP they must have thought much worst of the JLP or life was not hard enough and they just could not bother to change. The fact that the PNP had 18 years in power reflects very badly on the JLP and the people who claimed that it was the worst, just the worst time ever. It boggles the mind that the people in a democracy would live under 18 years of a terrible occupation by the PNP even though they were given the chance to vote them out of office on 3 occasions, so it seems the occupation was not an occupation but a selection, something just does not add up with that equation and describes the Jamaican electorate beautifully, slow to act, slow to evaluate, slow to care if they are having fun and not at their darkest hour. This mediocre approach to Nation Building must change or else we are doomed, we need to be more involved, more pro-active if we are to bring about the changes required. “

JLP Became the Government and the PNP the Opposition
So in 2007 the Jamaica Labour Party won the General election and became the Government of Jamaica with Bruce Golding as the Prime Minister and what followed was anything but Open, Transparent, honest or anti-corrupt, it was politics as per usual, the political class paying lip service to corruption, it turned out to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I will not go through each event but instead fast forward to election 2011, in this election the JLP reran the exact same campaign, instead of running on their achievements (if any), since becoming the Government they started the same campaign of personal character attacks on Portia Simpson Miller and proclaiming themselves to be the anti-corruption party even though the events since 2007 was there for all to see.

 'Call it, Andrew, call it!'
However for the election 2011 Bruce Golding was replaced (because of corruption) by the younger Andrew Holness who had to deal with the JDIP (HGC: Mike Henry) corruption scandal. I have long since been pushing for younger more vibrant 21st century leaders to move to the forefront of both parties, I am tired of the old, Home Grown Colonials (HGC) types that have been around since before 1962 and who are experienced in the art of corruption.  However Instead of engaging the people of Jamaica as something new, fresh, exciting and vibrant with 21 century concepts and ideas, I was shocked while listening to Andrew Holness on the campaign trail, if I closed my eyes and listen, I would not have been able to tell that a younger person was now leading the JLP, he was no different than Portia, PJ Patterson or Bruce spouting the same old rhetoric, to say I was disappointed was an understatement, a young pup trying to beat the old hands at their game.  Not to mention he should not have called election so early but should have taken the time to engage the Jamaican people, explaining who he is and what he is about.  Contrary to popular belief changing leaders, so late in the game is not seen as a good thing and he needed to take the time to allow the people to get to know him.

The JLP ran one of the worst campaigns in recent history, the party failed to fire up its support base, it was not a campaign ran on achievements (if any) but one off attack, concentrating on how Portia sound and on her  physical appearance , this may have worked in 2007 but common sense would tell you it cannot work in 2011, simply because she was the opposition and you the Government, that was a onetime shot and when it work first time logic would tell you that the next campaign should have been on achievements (if any), about what you did to improve the lives of the people,  instead the JLP re-ran the same 2007 campaign, which to me was just pure laziness, lacking innovation and ideas which describe the state of today's youth. To make matters worse the party quickly jumped on the gay issue, in a debate Portia Simpson Miller when asked about gay rights said and I quote “We should have a look at the buggery law” end of quote, knowing the ignorance of the general society towards homosexuality the JLP decided to use this against the PNP in an attempt to score late political points as they shouted from the mountain tops that the PNP wanted to legalize homosexuality and this would be the end of Jamaica as we know it... it became the main point in the last stages of the campaign, not the selling of Air Jamaica to save tax payers money (even though personally I do miss my Air Jamaica), not the privatization of the dead sugar industry, not the revitalization of the railway system, not the Jamaica Debt Exchange programme,  not the reduction of crime even though they no longer provide the weekly crime rate report and Jamaicans are left to guess what the crime rate is, which is like guessing the amount of marbles in a big jar, I assume the crime rate is up again since if it was down we would never stop hearing about it, no they jumped on the gay issue which was stupid and a total waste of time, trying to rack up cheap political points that backfired. I totally understand why both Holness and Portia danced around the gay rights issue, a couple months before both the United Kingdom and United States of America declared that they will change how they deal with certain countries that do not respect the human rights of Gay people and since none of them wanted to say something now that they will regret later they left it hanging, since it seemed at some point that Jamaica will have to make a decision between visa, aid, imports, loans and gay rights. Bruce Golding tried to go toe to toe with the United States when he tried to prevent the extradition of Dudus and failed big.

While the JLP was talking big to the hills of St. Andrew, playing the race, class and gay card, the PNP was talking small doing what that party does best, engaging people at the grass roots of society, it is a party that is never one or two steps away from the common man (The Political Class have mastered the art of keeping the common man common, having them eating out of your hands for vote), able to fire up its campaigning machinery and go door to door, house to house to deal one on one with the people, it is the bottom up approach, while the JLP is good with the top down approach.

I am always amazed that during an election period these upper class, political class politicians try to use low class/dancehall slangs in their attempt to relate to the common man, it is as if, just before the election period both parties have a course/seminar  on “Lowclass/Dancehall slangs and how to use” them. One such retarded slang is “Tun Up”, I have never heard such overuse low class gibberish in my life as everyone tries to fit it into a sentence, “di ting tun up”.

To tell you the truth, up to this day I do not know what Andrew Holness was about, I got the assumption that the JLP believed their Hype and misinformation, it seems Andrew Holness was younger and was running on his youth other than that I got nothing else from him. Looking back I sometimes wonder if he really wanted the job as Prime Minister. He needed time to shed the Baby Bruce image and become his own man, I wanted something new, to hear young vibrant 21 century ideas, with hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future of Jamaica, I wanted to know where we were going and how he intended to get us there, how he Andrew was going to deliver us to the Promise Land. 

It is OK to explain the current predicament of the country to the Jamaican people, we welcome the idea of our political class being frank and open with us, to inform us of the hard times ahead but you must also explain your plans to overcome these hard times and lead us into the light. You are suppose to be the leader and leaders are suppose to have a vision, an idea of what sort of promise land you intend to create for us and how you intend to create it, a leader must bring hope to his people, inspire his people. Barrack Obama ran his election campaign on "Change We Can Believe In.", Michael Manley ran his campaign on "Better Must come!" and Edward Seaga ran on "Deliverance Now and Money Gwan Jingle in your pockets". It is not enough to highlight the Problems and Hard times ahead, you must also show us the light at the end of the Tunnel, that is the purpose of leadership, to lead us to a better life and to seek our help and participation in getting there. If we can see where we are going and how you intend to lead us there then we will be more than willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve our goal.

Again faced with such an overwhelming defeat instead of going over what went wrong, supporters of the losing side attacked the winning side, simply for winning. This election was for the JLP to win or to lose and they lost it in fine style, they were the Government and in charge of the course of events, so all this belly aching, pity party and doom and gloom predication is laughable.  If the last 5 years was successful or they ran an half decent campaign then we would still have a JLP Government in power and if the next 5 years under PNP rule in unsuccessful then the JLP will be back in power, it is that simple.

Openness, Transparency and Anti-Corruption
I am still waiting for a Government, any Government that does what they say and says what they do and all I get is a tangled web of lies and deceit, so it was in the 18 years of the PNP and so it was with the 5 years of the JLP and the diehards draw battle lines and throw salvos of accusation at each other, you did this and you did that, this goes on and on with no end in sight. Parties are accusing other parties of doing the same thing they did when they were in power and to date no one, not one person is in Jail, why? Because it is all an act by the Political class, it is a game, deep down they know they must defend each other, knowing once they go the prosecution and jail route then all bets are off, so they will not go that route and will continue to pay lip service to Openness, Transparency and Anti-corruption, even if they have to throw some peon to the wolves, the old guard will be protected.
Election History since 1962:
1983(JLP) – PNP boycott the election, 

Some Economic Indicators at the end of the JLP Term in Office:
 I am trying to get a feel as to why the people voted the way they did, so I began to research the economic figures to get an idea of how that translate into Standard of Living, how it affect the common man in the street.I will update the below figures as soon as I find them to track progress or lack of progress and time pass. Also this is the starting point for the PNP administration, to see if they make the indicators better of worst.

Net International Reserves (NIR: U.S. Dollar)
2006  -    $2.35b (record high)
2007  -    $2.329 billion (March)
2007  -    $1.877 billion (December)
2008  -    $1.49 billion
2011   -   1 billion, 967 million

Trade Deficit
Jamaica's trade deficit swelled to more than 3 point 2 billion U.S dollars over the January to August of 2011.
The import bill which reached over 4.3 billion dollars.
Exports earnings was only 1.1billion dollars

Jamaica's trade deficit with CARICOM
Between January and August 2010, it grew by 320-million U.S. dollars.
January and August 2011 Imports from CARICOM reached over US$766 million
January and August 2011 Exports valued at US$45 million.
The deficit was $721 million, up from $402 million at the end of August 2010.

In 2008, 40 per cent of Jamaica’s imports were from the United States,
17.6 per cent came from T&T
11.7 per cent from Venezuela

Jamaica’s trade deficit with the US and other nations declined to US$1.349 billion in 2009 from US$2.745 billion in 2008

Jamaica’s trade deficit with the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) ballooned to US$1.6 billion in 2008 of which Jamaica Imported US$1.4 billion worth of goods from Trinidad and Tobago

Jamaican exports to Caricom markets grew by more than 70 per cent between 2009-2010, as it exported goods and services to the tune of ONLY US$209.1 million

The JLP have achieved a significant reduction in interest rate:
(will post stats when I find them)

Population below the Poverty Line:
1990 1992  2002   2003  2007  2009  2010  2011
28.4 34.2   19.7     14.8   9.8     16.5   20.3   ???

Unemployment Rate:
2007: 9.85%,  2008: ???, 2009: 11.4%, 2010: 12.4%, 2011: 12.9%
Unemployment has risen from 9.8 percent in 2007 to 12.9 percent in 2011.

Jamaican dollars (JMD) per US dollar -
2006: 65.768, 2007: 69.034, 2008: 72.236, 2009: 87.89, 2010: 87.41, 2011: 86.34590

Inflation Rate:
2000: 8.142, 2001: 6.881, 2002: 6.991, 2003: 14.6, 2004: 11.6, 2005: 11.3, 2006: 5.6, 2007: 9.306, 2008: 22.016, 2009: 9.569, 2010: 12.605

Jamaica ended the 2011 calendar year with the inflation rate at 6%. The financial year ends in March 2012 

Debt - external
Country    2000 2001 2002 2003 2004  2005  2006   2007   2008  2009  2010  2011
Jamaica    3.8    4.7    5.2    5.3    4.96   5.96   7.16    7.38    9.66   10.2   10.56 12.66

GDP - real growth rate:
2002    0.97
2003    3.502
2004    1.444
2005    1.079
2006    2.991
2007    1.432
2008    -0.915
2009    -3.046
2010    -1.217

National Debt
In 2007 the national debt was over $850 billion
In 2011 $1.6 trillion - a whopping 130 per cent of gross domestic product

World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index for 2011 indicated that Jamaica had dropped 12 places in the ranking of 142 regional economies. Jamaica had a ranking of 107 among the142 nations included in the 2011 Index.

Everyone Talking  about crime trending down:

Jamaica Murder Rate by Year:
1998 - 953
1999 - 849
2000 - 887
2001 - Page Not found on JCF, the BBC says estimated 1,100
2002 – 1045
2003 – 975
2004 – 1471
2005 – 1674
2006 – 1340
2007 – 1583
2008 – 1618
2009 – 1683 : Jamaica records highest ever murder rate in 2009
2010 - 1442
2011 - 1124 as per Gleaner Report (JCF Suspiciously missing 2011 stats in an election year)

January Murders By year
2011 - 90
2010 - 141
2009 - 121

This is not trending down, but like the rest of the economic figures it is marginal and mediocre movements, fluctuating a +100 to -200 from one year to the next, nothing to write home about, we have achieved no great reduction in crime.

Tourist Arrivals – Stop Over’s only
2003 – 1,350,285
2004 – 1,414,663
2005 – 1,478,663
2006 – 1,905,678
2007 – 1,700,785 – PNP ends, JLP Begins
2008 – 1,767,271
2009 – 1,831,097
2010 – 1,921,678
2011 - (No actual numbers yet but all indication points to a record Year... lets see if it turn out to be true)

While to the numbers look good, I would like to know how it translate to Gross and Net hard earnings, having large number means nothing if the money generated is air lifted/repatriated back to the home country of the hotel owner, not to mention these big hotel mostly exist in a tax free world. An Idea of what we earn vs. what we could earn would be nice, anyway something better than nothing.

===> As Per Bartlett
Bartlett said that many destinations are retaining as low as seven cents of every dollar tourists spend, noting that much of the tourist dollar "goes back to where it came from".

He pointed out that research has shown that only about three per cent of the produce from the agricultural sector currently goes into tourism

"We quarrel about export issues and trade issues and competition in the global market for our commodities and agricultural produce, and we're sitting right here with an export industry that has the capability to absorb every kilo of our supplies, every unit, and we ignore it,"

Agriculture Production Output: 
Under the JLP Government Agriculture Production output continued to increase from one year to the next, thanks to the brilliant work by Mr. Tufton and the Farmers of Jamaica who step up when asked, so much so that the Ministry was forced to promote the Farmers Market under the “Eat What you Grow, Grow what you eat Program” to mop up the excess, which this drove domestic food prices down. The farmers market was created because we the Jamaican people failed to support our farmers, at the time when agricultural output was increasing we had record increases in our food import bill as our Restaurants and Supermarkets continue to stock their pantry and shelves with Imported Produce and as Jamaican People pride themselves on their ability to consume imported foods.  

Crop Production Output By Year: Units:Tonnes
2011 - *Unable to Find Total*
2010 - 500304
2009 - 489672
2008 - 400110

2011 started out with record Crop Production output Up 24% by first quarter, over previous year


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