11 Feb Daniel Thwaites | The JLP: A Plan To Have A Plan, I Promise (Jamaica Gleaner February 5, 2017)
I’m sure everyone’s heart sank a little when the police announced that Peter Abrahams’ death was now being treated as a murder. It followed hard on the heels of a string of stories, each more brutal than the next.
I have removed myself from Facebook, not because of the idiotic stories and the incessant and pointless quarrels, but because the underpaid workers in the Philippines and Indonesia aren’t removing the blood and gore quickly enough, and Jamaicans are, unfortunately, revelling in the delight of the gore. One too many of the horrific pictures has caused me to hang up the gloves.
Anyhow, after the columns about Caricel and that festering mess, I’m especially minded to look for nice things to say about Mr Holness and his Government.
So here goes: They are sticking with the IMF programme they derided in Opposition. Also, they have allowed the results of ESET’s hard work to come to fruition. Thanks, Vin Lawrence! Next, they went ahead and broke their election promise to not raise taxes while doing a giveback to income-tax payers on the lower end. There have been some delightfully paradoxical headlines which amount to: Brace for tax increases for the tax cut. As you can tell, I’m already struggling, because it feels weird to call a broken promise a good thing. But because fulfilling the promise would have done great harm to the economy, the ‘repair’ was an improvement, even though unsatisfactory in many ways as well, because it largely pushed the tax burden downwards.
As Audley used to say back in the day: “Soak the poor some more.” But I’m still counting that as an achievement. It’s like if a man promises to shoot you, but after considering the consequences, he decides to simply shot yuh a bax, it’s improvement in my book. Yes, I’m a generous grader.
OK, so I’ve just about run out of things now. All right, that’s not entirely fair, because I do believe that if given some time, Mr Tufton will do a thing or two, and I count it as a stunning achievement of the administration that Mr Warmington has been so shockingly well behaved in and out of the House.
Oh! What am I saying? Ed Bartlett is solidly holding down his portfolio and baptising Wykeham’s children. But I supposed it doesn’t matter who is the real father. Soh it goh.
So with all that as my $800-million preparatory ground-clearing, it’s time to address crime. The sad part is that one of my favourite government ministers, Bobby Montague, seems to have been put into a role he clearly didn’t want, said he didn’t want, tried to resist, didn’t plan to have, and has no plan to execute.
As we know, the national security assignment always threatens to become, if not quite the graveyard of a political career, the serious hospitalisation of it in the ICU when the nurses and junior doctors are on strike. The net result is that the administration has entered its 11th month without a coherent crime plan, and the results are showing. Now pause here for a moment. Why do people form themselves into political parties and agitate to be elected to govern us? Presumably, it’s because there’s something they want to accomplish and they have the belief that they are better equipped to accomplish it than the other side.
Or is it something far more basic and visceral? Is it the mere lust for power and control? Because if it is that the party and its members have things they want to accomplish, presumably, they would have written it down somewhere, and mapped out a strategy to achieve it. So you would think. But the evidence is quite the contrary. From as far back as mid-2016, Mr Holness was trumpeting that he had plans too cute to announce to the public, lest the criminals hear them. Well, something or somebody must have leaked them to the criminals, because they are flourishing while the citizens cower in fear.
Then early in this new year, he appeared in a slick mini-commercial with helicopters and military personnel behind him to assure us that the long-awaited crime plan was coming. Still coming? Needless to say, this was already very late in the day. But all the same, battered and bruised and with no other choices, we’ve been waiting. And waiting. Since then, the administration has finally rejected the prison deal from the UK, expressed strong reliance on obeah, sent out its shills to warn us they plan to restrict and abrogate human rights, and generally floundered around seemingly focusing on removing vendors from the streets of St Catherine and Clarendon.
And then there was the stage show with Ninja Man, Bounty Killer and, since warlords of a feather flock together, Mounty-Killa. Now a month later, I read The Gleaner’s headline that Mr Holness was again promising to reduce murders. Splendid! Naturally, confidence is peaking! Actually, more like peeking out from behind the grilles.
So first there was the secret plan. Then it was revealed that actually it was a plan to have a plan. And now we have the promise of a plan to have a plan. All of which means everything is cool! Because I for one grew up hearing that “a promise is a comfort and it’s cool”. My question is: What were you doing between 2012 and 2016 if not planning for the eventuality of reaching Government? Are we to deduce that it was this much of a shock, even to you, that PNP infighting and rudderless slackness gave it away? Looks so. Meanwhile, we have entered this year with an unprecedented level of carnage and murderous rage. When you consider that each of the 100 or so murdered human beings comes from a traumatised family, and that this follows hard on the heels of the 1,300 or so people murdered in 2016, you start to get a glimpse of the spreading terror that has become the everyday reality in Jamaica.