Saturday, 19 November 2022 21:10

Conference 79, what’s next in line, Mr Holness?

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By Nicole Stanbury

Today , Sunday, November 20, 2022 the ruling Jamaica Labour Party is staging their 79th annual conference at the National Arena in Kingston.

It is expected that thousands of Labourites from all across Jamaica will flock to the National Arena for the green fiesta.

Party activists would have been very busy last night handing out last minute green t-shirts, folded neatly with a token of appreciation inside.

But word on the ground is that Labourites are no longer content to make the trek for the so-so token of appreciation. Many are demanding more tangible forms of assistance before they move a muscle.

But that’s an issue that neither party has ever had to worry about. Before every conference and every election, empty threats of non-participation are made, but when it comes down to the final hours, the bugs bite hard.

And politicians know that, so they help the process along with copious amounts of white rum and curry chicken (goat has become too expensive) and come conference or election morning, everybody is sweet.

Most will arrive at the conference half drunk, having cheated death from body protrusion as they hang out of buses and chartered cars on their way to the merriment.

When they get there, they will set up camp and start sharing the weed, food and rum. The feed that is cast on strategically placed big screens outside of the Arena will not mean much to them. They won’t pay attention to the speeches but they will erupt whenever the DJ plays a contextual tune. They would have gone to conference with not very much and would have left with even less.

The parties of course have adapted their approach, and these days live streams are available across the Internet to facilitate those who will not risk their safety to be present, and of course, for supporters and the curious in the Diaspora.

It will be interesting to see what the viewing numbers will be like.

A very large swathe of the Jamaican society do not attend conferences and well-thinking people do not give much credence to conference speeches. They are crafted to inflate the egos of the hosting party and to give their diehard supports an annual fillip in their spirit.

Today’s conference seems to be one of the most important conferences for the JLP in recent times. There is a lot riding on it for JLP supporters. The government is going through a very bad patch and the tremors are rising as the population increases the volume over the current state of affairs.

Jamaicans are living in a war zone and so far the administration has not demonstrated the capability to deal with the crime wave. All across the country, entire communities are cowering in fear as murders continue to rise and antisocial behavour climbs to dizzying heights.

This is the main issue that Prime Minister and Party Leader Andrew Holness will have to address. Jamaicans have heard a lot empty words on crime and the opposition must now be tired of bleating their trumpets ca;;ing for a crime plan. The mere mention of States of Emergency gets people riled up because they have been deployed so often, and have proven to not be a long term solution to the problem. People are tired of expressions of condolence and burying their loved ones lost to crime. So the PM had better come good.

He will no doubt address the issue of antisocial behaviour and for that he needs to have a detailed, clinical plan about how he is going to shape this and coming generations of young people. He might want to dust off PJ Patterson’s Values and Attitudes program and give real meaning, political will and effort to it.

He has to address the education disaster that the country faces with its schools out of control and becoming gestation centres for the next breed  of criminals. There are too many Jamaican youth leaving school without grasping the fundamentals of basic education, to the point where they now proudly declare themselves “fully dunce.”

You ever hear anything go suh?

Jamaica is filthy. As one woman declared on social media, the rats aren’t even running from human beings anymore. Garbage has piled up in every parish for weeks and months and the sanitation services are in meltdown. How convenient that 50 brand new garbage trucks have been unveiled the day before conference? Hmmmm! Who is that meant to appease?

The fact is that the National Solid Waste Management Authority and other designated agencies have been derelict in their duty. The fleet management is weak and blinkered. Don’t they assign a shelf life to the vehicles they take into the system? Why should the country wait until so many trucks get past their useful date before replacements are ordered? Is anybody held to account for this? Remember now, taxes are mandatory!

Mister Holness will have to address the state of the economy. Inflation and interest rates are out of control and the national food basket is becoming more barren.

The cold hard fact is that despite how much Jamaicans love our little gem in the Caribbean, it is not for the feint-hearted. People are finding it very hard to survive. A ridiculous number of people are living below the bread line. That is not the sole doing of the JLP so it would suggest that there needs to be some consensus around critical issues between both parties, for the country to truly be the paradise it was meant to be.

Mr Holness must be on tenterhooks about now, but it seems he need not worry much except for the need to assuage himself over the arduous road he has had trying to mend a broken country. The main thing he  has in his favour is that the PNP is still in limp mode, still reeling from their many electoral losses. It is of urgency that they become a formidable opposition with local government elections around the corner and a general election due in another three years.

Best wishes to all those who will be (mindlessly and otherwise) shouting “Showa” today and more importantly, it is our fervent hope that they arrive at conference safely, and have an equally seamless journey back home.

Last modified on Saturday, 19 November 2022 23:51