Jamaica’s PM has dug a hole for herself. By refusing to engage the mainstream media on a regular basis, she’s now having to establish a track record in the eyes of the public. It’s a coincidence that in the week after polls showed that her leadership style was very unpopular, she decided to make a national statement and have a media briefing on what is the pressing issue in the public’s mind–the chikungunya outbreak?
Is it coincidence that days after polls showed her and her party trailing the Opposition badly and taking the country in the wrong direction, she makes this move. She and her team know the answer. We are entitled to guess. Why now, except to try to regain some standing in the people’s hearts and minds? Politicians want to be in power and when it seems to be slipping away they will usually change.
The PM should have been prepared for the media’s questions. So, it’s interesting how she dealt with those about dismissing her minister of health over his handling of the outbreak. She said she had no reason “yet”. That yet is always implicit, so why stress it? To suggest that ‘soon’ reasons will be there, as in this is a last chance? If the PM seemingly misspeaks, I don’t think it’s pure accident. Her articulation may be lacking, but she’s a consummate politician.
She also characterised him and her Cabinet in an odd way. She referred to him as “one of the hard working” ministers, clearly indicating that some of her ministers are slacking in their jobs. She could have said he was amongst the hardest workers, suggesting hard work was the norm, and he was a standout. But, she’s clearly suggested that the presence of ministers is not conditioned on hard work, and by implication the driving forward of policies. Why are they still there? Your answers are as good as mine.
She then put icing on this lacklustre endorsement. The minister was good at coming to support her effort to clean up her constituency, and if there was something about chikungunya, he would come along and talk. Really!
To my extraordinary high standards that is a far cry from what I think a Cabinet minister should have as his or her profile.
My own simpleton view is that the PM is preparing the ground for some house cleaning. Her style is not to respond to outside calls for action. So, her timing will be made to seem natural to her, and it may be soon.