Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Party that cried "Poor”: Jamaican Politics in Poverty

As the fable goes the shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, "Wolf! Wolf!" and when his neighbors came to help him, he laughed at them for their pains.  The Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: "I Pray do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep"; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure destroyed the whole flock.

The Opposition’s response to Peter Phillips Budget presentation seems to be taking on very similar characteristics to the story mentioned above the fairytale classic “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. The Audley-Andrew team up seemed perfectly in synch and coordinated as they successfully attacked the Government on their Tax Proposal, “This Budget is not bitter medicine. It is poison." assured Holness; “what has been presented is not stimulus but potential toxic shocks to remaining sectors of the economy” voiced Shaw (Poison – Toxic, hmmm).

The perfect cohesion between the Rhetoric got my nose working and my mind soon to follow; I smelt betrayal in the air and I knew that this was not “Poor People Passion” (demonstrated wholesomely by Portia). Over the period of the Last Election cycle to now, we can definitely make the conclusion that the Peoples National Party led by Mama P most certainly said the word “Poor” and made mention to Poverty in Jamaica more times than their (Big Man Capitalist Counterparts) the Jamaica Labour Party. This is not a singular occurrence as the PNP as retained the ‘Poor People Party’ image since its socialist days under Manley.

In his Post Budget press conference on Friday, Andrew Holness was ‘animated’ (as one media house described it) with passion against the Tax on Basic Food Items, Books and Electricity. His words came forth but had nothing behind, they lacked substance, he ranted against distractions such as the CCJ, CARICOM and removal of the monarchy making absolutely sure that debt and poverty reduction should be atop of the government priorities. The intent of this Political strategy is clearly to get the one up on Portia while been a constructive opposition, but also ensuring that we remember her election promises and now see them fizzle as “barefaced deception”.

While I welcome such political fodder as it does have a place in a democracy, the inability of the JLP to look towards the future and provide us with an alternative budget (as practiced in many countries) showing us that they would do things differently instead of just saying “We would have done it different”, while refusing to present any alternative (tweaking the existing, is not an alternative), is the reason for my “crying wolf” conclusion. Pointing out the PNP and Portia’s failures doesn’t fix Jamaica’s.

The instantaneity of Jamaica Labour Party, to ride on the “Fear and Sensationalist” reaction to the budget by the Jamaican people, speaks volume about the evolution of politics (or lack of) in Jamaica. Even when they bash the Government on playing politics with the emotions of the people (referring to the Bitter Medicine/poison), they themselves get caught pulling the cats tail; to be fair, neither side can plead not guilty on the charge of political deception.  

Andrew Holness and his Labourite counterparts might actually be concerned about the “Poor”, and how the poor will be affected due to the tax package (giving the benefit of the doubt) but we can see that his Actions doesn’t match his rhetoric. Politics is meant to be a ‘rat race’ but not in the literal sense of the word “rat”.

There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.