Say what you will about our PM–and Jamaicans are not well known for not being loud and free with their opinions–she has a way with words. In the space of a few minutes, she showed that her recent bout of laryngitis was well past and she could give the people what they wanted, at full throttle. Sorry, that’s not very delicate, but when the PM speaks it’s often about volume, and that is what often gets the people’s attention–not the deep meaning that could be gleaned by parsing every word.
So, the PM touched on the timing of the election. All ears have been waiting on her every word to know if plans for Aunt Maud to visit for the Christmas break need to be put on hold because she is due to arrive from country on December 15. Others have been scratching their heads because the ideas for the office party and the beach lime were set for the week before mid-month, and the weekend of December 5-6 had been picked. Beer, wine and rum had been ordered, and part-paid. Gladys, in Accounting had ordered the chicken and fish and the promised ‘pig in a box’ was reared and–though he didn’t know it–ready to go. Now, if elections are called for December 8 that would be awkward, because many of the parents would have to figure out whether they would find school closed at the start of the week, and after the partying, the break of a rest in the office may have to be shelved due to having to be home with the children. Now, December 10 would be fine, as the week would be well under way, though again the chance of school disruptions midweek would be a headache.
Cho! Whoever said that elections in December were a good idea?
Now, none of these considerations seemed to be in the PM’s mind. She was looking for inspiration from an outside source to help her decide. Well, it may not be an outside source, but someone close, either in the Cabinet or outside but with clear political or other influence. She’s waiting for when “my master touches me and says ‘My daughter go now’.” Some have taken that as looking for divine or spiritual guidance. You know, Him: the Big Kahuna, in some form. Lord knows, who exactly, she means. Some of our cartoonists have pointed to spiritual help from our African tradition: we obey and we follow Obeah. But the ‘master’ may just be next to her shoulder. If rumour has it right, then the calling of the elections is also in the hands of some of her Cabinet colleagues. One of them is going to give the *filip* that is needed to name the date.
We, the people, sit and wait in awe.
The PM’s image of master did bring to my mind that iconic advert for the recording company, His Master’s Voice. With the PM belting out, in her full-throated manner, it’s an image that could go a long way.But, the PM would have us believe that it’s not her, but we, who will ring the starting bell (running with her preferred analogies from horse racing–and ignoring the awkwardness of ‘The Bell’ being their symbol): “The election is not just about me. The election is about you the people.” Well, if that’s the case, let’s just get it over with.
Few people are interested in, or able to discern, policy differences. Many will say, you know what you’re going to get if the current administration continues, but it’s an uncertain bag of tricks if the Opposition wins. That’s not science, but sentiment, and that matters a lot. It matters much to business people, and like it or not, they are an important pillar.
Will a change of government lead to the addressing of the many evident weaknesses in the country’s social and physical fabric? Are these things that are amenable to different political stripe, or more driven by what people think and believe about themselves and their country and their countrymen?
All that said, I think people want to get the voting over and done with, largely because they’ve been primed to think it will be over and done with before the oven in opened and the turkey (or chicken, or fish back stew) is done. I’m personally not convinced that it will be done this year, but that’s just my musing.