The Line in the Sand for the PNP .............
Notwithstanding if we recall via this blog just two months after coming to power the signs were obvious that the review of the buggery law seen as a promise by some was not on the cards as expressed via a young first time member of parliament Damion Crawford who suggested and repeated via CVM TV that it was not a priority at the time, he would not have said so by his own accord in my view as he poured cold water on the matter suggesting that gay voices and politicians would not come public, we have seen that that has changed drastically as LGBT advocacy overall has gone mainstream albeit with some disastrous outcomes but pushing non the less. Politicians are still very reticent in addressing the buggery law and its well needed amendments in the affirmative for MSM (men who have sex with men) in particular as the archaic law serves no purpose in modern times but the fear is such changes may send administrations into the political wilderness and a backlash from religious voices and or the Christian right movement who have become most loud during the life of the PNP government.
Mr Crawford’s soundings on the non importance of priority of the suggested buggery review by his boss was echoed twice by the Information Minister Sandra Falconer during cabinet press briefings over the life of the administration as heard here or here
The tossup between a third world designation for Jamaica versus a middle income one has implications for the grants we receive that literally carry some of our national activities at our ministries. The suck up of sorts by the goodly mayor and the Justice Minister Mark Golding despite his public utterances that the law needs to go yet he does not budge in making it so during the present review of the Sexual Offences Bill as is customary every four or so years. What seems to have soured the pot is the twinning of gay marriage (a right not requested to my knowledge officially by any advocacy group or individual) to only give credence to denying overall rights. The PM herself when she was opposition leader under the Golding administration also used the opportunity to knock down gay marriage rights when no such rights were demanded:
As we await the joint select committee report yet again I sense a delay given the sensitivities involved that even cartoonist Clovis from the sometimes gay baiting Jamaica Observer paper showed in June this year:
I want us all to remember as well the dissenting voices within the PNP although they are from the lower levels of the administration at the counsellor level or at best Member of Parliament levels:
The higher echelons of the party have also expressed their own unease with the suggestion by the now PM then parliamentary opposition of a buggery review from no less a person than the powerful so called Chairman for life of the PNP and Minister of Water and Climate Change Bobby Pickersgill seen as the one of the worse performing ministers given the drought conditions we expect annually yet no preparations for same while he enjoys huge support at the constituency level since he assumed the role as MP he has not lost his seat.
see: PNP’s Bobby Pickersgill differs on Conscience Vote route to decide on Buggery Law
Minister of Youth Lisa Hanna though facing fire in her constituency as MP as minister she has seemingly and ever so slowly evolved on LGBT youth issues, we were told for example that some response would come to the homeless but it seems just to be another announcement for feel good or image purposes yet no real action. Despite the fact that the member of parliament where homelessness is at its most visible showing some interest and some success via the authorities to relocate the population previously at the Shoemaker Gully predominantly only to have the issues move to another part of town as evidenced in a recent news item of a police raid in the Beechwood Avenue area.
see: So our displaced cannot settle eh? ....... police raid premises with cross dressers!
The Prime Minister herself has dodged the issue of her own suggestion on the buggery review as evidenced in that now infamous interview on television where she was cornered in Parliament by journalists and her explain away on a political platform during the last election campaign in St Thomas at a rural meeting:
Meanwhile the fires she and her many consultants (another sore issue) has had to be dealing with while in the party as the old perception that the PNP does not or did not have serious internal challenges as the JLP does and that they (the PNP) keep the issues out of the public domain, the public is disillusioned by the outright refusal of the PM to do interviews or speak to the media; the awful comments in the aforementioned fires at the party levels especially the MP Raymond Pryce drama where car tyres of a challenger to his seat were punctured at no less a place than the headquarters of the party itself during a committee meeting. Those awful comments by Dr Dayton Campbell in Lisa Hannah’s constituency in the bitter struggle to unseat her as well as another first time MP; the Hayles versus Duncan matter which also played out rather disgustingly in the public domain as well has persons just by the feedback to the talkshow circuit.
The PM needs to be reminded of her own words on gay marriage, she said on October 20th 2009 - "Mr Speaker when we accepted the final report from the joint select committee that were looking at the bill we were completely satisfied with their recommendation of a provision to restrict marriage and like relationships to one man and one woman within Jamaica and that the provision should be specifically spelt out so that there could be no ambiguity ………. yes one man one woman (laughter in the house) and if you are Jamaican and go overseas the same applies ……….."
here is Pryce despite his challenges where at an Observer forum he spoke to the buggery law:
Passing IMF tests have been criticised by business leaders, the parliamentary opposition and commentators sympathetic to the JLP while the PNP basks in the success of rolling out the IMF program with emphasis on fiscal discipline but the corresponding growth expected by some, the devaluation of the dollar, the continued unemployment rate increase despite a positive outlook by the Planning Institute of Jamaica report for the last quarter and a previous doing business index which showed an increase with a petro-caribe debt buy back at almost 50% which the JLP has basically poured cold water on claiming the savings maybe good now but the interest payments are too high in the long term for any real benefit. The press conference by the Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson and his team confirming the concerns raised by the public medical professionals chiefly the MAJ as evidenced in the audit report of the regional health authorities showing what most persons who access public health facilities know has only sought to add to the
The Jamaica Labour Party seems to be enjoying some increased support nationally as evidenced by a recent study commissioned by RJR radio which showed them leading in the polls but the PNP has gained some ground on them none the less despite the challenges. The JLP however still has its internal challenges dogging them especially since the leadership race where Shaw and Andrew Holness factions hold hard ends in terms of support and the Tufton bid for a different seat plays out rather publicly as well. The public commentary however suggests that people like Holness as a young leader but some of the old guard needs to go. Last evening’s live broadcast from Montego Bay however at their Poverty to Prosperity townhall meetings Holness and others who spoke sound upbeat and finally referred to their achievements from 2007 – 2011 which they did not highlight in the last election campaign leading to their losing power. The continued incorporation of social media and other online outlets for engaging the public is duly noted, the PNP has been using such spaces but the JLP has left the blocks rather early this time around and it looks more organised in this latest race. It is obvious the campaign is on in earnest as some commentators have predicted the elections maybe called similarly in December as was done in 2011.
Personally this time around this elections looks iffy, as in times past one could predict with some surety the outcomes but not this time, I think seeing the aforementioned two or multi-term guarantee administrations would have been granted by the voters had been broken from the last elections and as more Jamaicans stay away or are dismissive of both parties I fear we might have another minority government whoever wins. There are some seats that are considered marginal for the incumbent and the public infighting is not helping any and with the JLP unsettled seat matters especially with Tufton, Malaboo- Forte, Dennis Meadows (who has since withdrawn from the race) and Horace Chang the party’s General Secretary.
Nuff more to come I would imagine.
Peace and tolerance