JLP's successes have pulled the rug from under the PNP

Letters to the Editor

JLP's successes have pulled the rug from under the PNP

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

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Dear Editor,

One of the issues I hear coming from the pro-Peter Bunting camp in the current leadership race in the People's National Party (PNP) is how the party's shadow Cabinet is not coming up with any new ideas. And the proponents of that view are laying the blame at Peter Phillips's feet. But Phillips cannot be blamed for that.

Let's look at something that Prime Minister Andrew Holness did in his first set of budget presentations in the House. He, quintessentially, pulled the rug out from under the PNP in terms of the signature issues they used to push as a party.

He took out housing from under them. The PNP used to say it is the party that provided more houses for Jamaicans. Whether that's true is another matter.

He pulled the rug on social welfare issues too. He expanded the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) and increased its benefits.

He enhanced previous Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) positions on education and health care. Billions have been spent on these sectors.

He pulled the road rehabilitation rug from under the PNP. It used to say its leadership constructed more roads than anybody else, although it was more about highways than the regularly travelled roads.

And on top of that, the Holness Government is reducing poverty at an extraordinary pace, creating jobs like it's a bonanza, and all are invited. This has helped to grow the economy. The PNP used to say it is the party that looks out for the poor. While that was utter rubbish, people believed it. Andrew has owned that space, not in words, but in deed, and has now turned himself into the prosperity king.

The question that now arises is whether, in any real terms, the PNP has any chance of bringing forward new ideas on anything. Everything is either going well or heading in the right direction. We got a 'no new taxes budget' under Audley Shaw, and that was eclipsed a year later by a tax reduction budget. The Holness administration has effectively cancelled the space the PNP would occupy traditionally.

It's not that the PNP is that bad, but that Holness and the JLP are that good. Changing leadership in the PNP will not change that fundamental fact.

The PNP may have talking points on crime and corruption, but, oh, its deeds need a Bedouin scroll to list them.

Fabian Lewis


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