Jamaica’s upcoming local government elections: tracing and comedy trump policy issues in first debate.

If our local political strategists are on point, they have whetted our appetites by serving up just the kind of thing Jamaicans love in politics–tracing matches. People are highly partisan and really don’t have much real interest in substantive issues of policy, when politicians are in direct discussions: keep all of that for seminars and conferences. Instead, give them the stand up, knock down, insulting, belittling exchanges that who is bull or cock chicken or wildest Amazon. This comment on Twitter summed it up: 
Moreover, when it comes to policies, politicians and supporters want to associate all successes, so, many of the exchanges are like when two children speak: ‘I’m the best, stuff the rest! I did this, not you, nah, nah, nah!’ Debating isn’t what they do–take it from one who knows more about public arguments than most, presenter Dionne Jackson-Miller. Instead, it’s debasing each other that counts.

Well, we got this last night during the first local government elections debate, which was televised lived. 

I had expressed reservations why a nationally elected politician, who’s also the minister of local government–Desmond McKenzie, who has been also a Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew–was included in the team of the ruling national party. Silly boy! Local government isn’t important in the lives of Jamaicans, except in its absence of positive influence. With that in mind, it was appropriate to bring out first the big guns. For that reason, the Opposition had to bring out its biggish guns, in the form of a local politician who is also on the national stage, namely a PNP National Executive Vice President, Angela Brown-Burke. So, I understand better the positioning for the first debate, which was about the relevance of local government.

What that meant was that little of substance came from the non-debate. But, we got some super sound bites (no pun intended with that which was most captivating): the most notable is currently about whether mosquitoes have bitten you: https://twitter.com/bdff/status/799089272225722368, uttered by a young JLP candidate, Keneisha Allen, who took on Mrs. Brown-Burke, and got under her skin do much that she was dismissed as being “too young to understand”–a remark that deals with no arguments but says so much about certain attitudes and mentality towards opposing views. 

Honestly, I wasn’t gripped by the exchanges and think most watchers felt the same. So, let’s hope that things are set up better for the second debate, next week. I would give the edge to the JLP after the debate, not least because they have the national reins, which have good economic things to show (even though an honest assessment would say these are largely the results of the defeated PNP’s economic management). I would also say that Kingston’s mayor doesn’t stand as a paragon of good municipal management of a space showing so many signs of decay and dysfunctional existence, even if large parts of this cannot be fixed by local initiatives. In that regard, it might have been a mistake to have her lead the opposition charge, but she had a good mix of municipal and national relevance, so probably seemed well-suited. 

So, onto the second and last debate on November 23.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

2 thoughts on “Jamaica’s upcoming local government elections: tracing and comedy trump policy issues in first debate.”

  1. Oh dear. I fell asleep at 5 minutes to 9 (flu still biting) and missed the whole thing. Sounds like I didn’t miss much. Really, they must do better!


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