I think the PM, not uncommon amongst politicians, tried to have his cake and eat it. Let’s be brief. Over two weeks ago, he said that moral suasion wasn’t cutting it:
So, the hammer needed to come down again to remind us that ‘COVID still a keep’ and two communities were put into quarantine and curfew hours were extended in a parish. At that time, many people pointed to the real problem emerging from the announcement of an election date: no one seemed to accept that old style campaigning couldn’t happen and we maintain any hope that we can keep the viral spread from worsening.
At that time, you’d have hoped the PM saw the teachable moment he’d given himself and set the tone with the right example. But, no. Just like the child who shouts from his room that he’s not doing anything wrong but then comes out with his face covered in soot and grime moments after an explosion came from the room, we saw the PM galavanting in a motorcade. Head bobbing out an SUV, party sign waving, finger wagging, crowd frenzy building. As my wife now says: “C’mon, dude!”
But, what could he have been thinking?
So, midweek, he comes back and says that he realized that he was guilty as were many others. Now, let’s curb the campaigning: no motorcades, only 2 coaster buses of no more than 15 people and drive throughs, etc. Many saw this was a tweet to little real effect. Again, within moments, as if all of this had gone on in another universe, we saw the Twilight Zone episode played out in Mandeville, Manchester—both parties with their modified non-motorcades drive-throughs.
The rather sick irony was that the most recent death had been in the parish of Manchester. Are you kidding me?? How can you be so out of touch?
Then, yesterday, ahead of a new high in COVID cases (116), the PM announced he’s suspending his campaigning. Two weeks after he’s said moral suasion wasn’t working and he’d been unable to persuade himself morally of the right thing to do:
Effectively, a week of false step after false step to make the move that should have happened the moment he stepped off the press briefing podium last week.
Why did the message take so long to hit him between the eyes? We have 14-day quarantine and clearly it’s taking that same time for ideas to come out of quarantine in the PM’s mind and actually see matching action. You can’t make this stuff up. #JamaicaIsNotARealPlace has meaning.
I keep saying politicians see themselves as exceptions. Well, you have the proof.
It’s damningly clear that the ruling party had not prepared itself, and therefore could not prepare the country for a different kind of election. We will have to ask what the strategists saw that did not tell them they needed to roll out Election 2.0 fast, including using all the online technologies that they had been using so effectively during the life of the administration. So, having the timing in their hands, they didn’t see that they needed to maximize the timing by pushing another campaign scenario out to the people.
The JLP lead in the opinion polls may be huge, but I’ve said before that playing a hand of good cards badly is often what does someone in. Frittering away public goodwill fits the bill. The PM seems to be playing bad cards one after the other, and if he’s not careful, he may be sitting like Mrs. Simpson-Miller after the last election, wondering how she had lost.