As the Holness administration was set to be reshuffled with ministers removed, moved to new portfolios and new ones brought in, political analysts began to naturally make suggestions as to who would be best suited to what portfolio. In this discussion, the name of Robert Morgan was brought up as a potential Information Minister, namely because of his communications savvy as many analysts are of the opinion that the JLP despite performing well in all areas bar crime and Covid have lost the initiative when it comes to PR as more and more of the much-craved youth vote become disillusioned with Brogad and his administration. As night follows day, Mr Morgan was elevated to Information Minister.
While I understand why the PM sought to shuffle the cabinet – rating for the various ministries have been at rock bottom in recent months, and while I do accept and even agree that Mr Morgan will be a good fit at the Information Ministry (especially one housed in the OPM), the reason for the JLP being in the doghouse with the young people is not for want of communicating neither is it because they are unaware of the work being done in the country by this administration.
We are not blind. We can see the concrete being poured, roads being built and cruise ships coming in. We know full well that this is the result of the PM and his administration. We are also fully aware that the Junction revamp now over budget – gasp – is set to be shortened as it relates to the length of the road being constructed. We see the massive corruption and waste taking place and to be frank, these reasons and not the reason of ‘poor communication’ is why the JLP is in a state that any half-decent opposition would be able to beat them handily. Luckily for them, the only viable opposition on offer for now is in a worse condition, and so the already small active voting population becomes even smaller as disillusioned youth who are the swing needed to get power, drop out of the voting cycle.
I understand why the political analysts are preaching so hard for the master of communications to get the post, he spins a good yarn, and I understand why they are confused as to why people are turning off of Andrew and the JLP. His policies have been very good to them, the policies of this administration have unleashed the ‘animal spirits’ of some – a select few in a few select industries – local capitalists who have been making money hand over fist and who wish to (a) continue making money in this fashion, and (b) ensure that the boat is not rocked so hard that insurrection becomes the order of the day.
The problem is no amount of spin and PR can hide the fact that inspite of the tonnes of concrete being poured into housing complexes, people particularly the youth are unable to afford housing. Yes, many foreign companies are coming to Jamaica to open up shop, but they continue to pay a pittance which sees our best, brightest, and hardest workers migrating to countries where they may at least have something resembling a chance.
It is far too simplistic to say that ‘crime is the biggest issue facing the government’. It is near insulting to say that if crime alone were less then this administration would be flying high and betrays the priorities of those who make those comments. All other violent crimes are down, yet the government has no ratings, jobs are returning, still, they flounder, infrastructure is going up but no love is given to them, yet we wish to console ourselves that this is merely a messaging problem to be fixed by installing a spin doctor in their own ministry. If that is their solution then they can’t see the woods for the trees.
Jobs mean nothing if the pay cannot and does not keep up with the cost of living, put another way why should I be happy for the job when all it pays is bus fare? Houses are springing up left and right true, but as mentioned before, this does nothing for the everyman if they cannot even afford the closing fees let alone everything else. Foreign businesses are rushing in and setting up shop, why should I take pride in that when the business ventures of the locals are strangled at birth by the state and the politicians that run it, and are beholden to vested interests (something Mr Azan is now coming to terms with). No amount of PR can obscure the fact that this administration and this PM who swore to be different when sworn in in 2016 (a comment I still find funny as he was then a many term MP) presides over an administration mired in corruption and has an attitude of ‘better than thou’ and ‘do as I say not as I do’.
All this is not to say that the JLP will lose the next election, far from it. They will win and comfortably, but with a reduced majority. As expected, and as noted by myself and others, Andrew is of the mould of PJ and this government is being run like those 18 ½ years. They know that the opposition cannot win as it is unwilling to make the needed changes to become a viable challenger. Like the PJ administration fronted by a man who genuinely knew how to interact with people (something Andrew to his credit has got a lot better at even if he still snaps at smart questions from journalists), they will commit shady deeds safe in the knowledge that the ever-dwindling voter base will not harm them because, hey, what else is on offer.
That is the challenge our supposed decent politicians, aspiring politicians, political parties and social movements face. This is not a PR issue, it is a bread-and-butter issue, it is a race issue, and it is a class issue. The general breakdown in society is not an issue any amount of PR can spin away and our politicians who hug up shady characters – women beaters, drug runners, etc – are primary culprits for this happening. The voter apathy benefits only one class, the class that finances and at times makes up the higher echelons of the political parties who then dictate freely what policies get prioritised. It is a race issue as all the crime plans deal solely with the ghetto – poor and black, sometimes Indian – as opposed to the financiers and importers of guns and exporters of drugs (persons who are invariably rich and white). It is a bread-and-butter issue as people try to access land to farm or use for manufacturing only to be denied because of our preference for the ‘safe’ import sales model.
If they can deal with those issues then they will have no need for a PR department as the entire nation would be eating out of their hands due to the successes we could see and touch and benefit all. As it is they have not, and no PR guru can change those facts and therefore the dissatisfaction for Brogad will remain and deepen. We cannot allow for the dissatisfaction to turn to apathy. People will stop voting but we need them to be engaged citizens if anything decent is to happen in this country. Dissatisfied with the JLP/PNP? Form your own organisation or join an existing organisation. Become involved in your community, your workplace, your place of recreation and your place of worship if that is your thing.
Apathy on our part cannot be the order of the day for the people, just as PR is not the remedy for this illness facing the JLP. We must organise, mobilise, agitate and participate, these are the tasks ahead of us, solutions to the issues of class, race, the breakdown of society etc must be at the forefront of our minds and not the comings and goings, and the PR spin of these politicians who couldn’t give a damn if we the masses live or die. Let them have their PR, let them lie to themselves, we know the woods for the trees and won’t get fooled. Now we must act.