Peter Phillips — The Asafa of politics?

Letters to the Editor

Peter Phillips — The Asafa of politics?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Dr Peter Phillips's record-breaking performance is akin to that of our beloved “sub-10 King” Asafa Powell. Powell stole the hearts of Jamaicans and gave us hope for a gold medal when he broke the 100m world record twice between 2005 and 2008. But he also broke our hearts every time he did not win gold on the big stage.

Yet, unknown to many, Powell had indeed self-actualised, as upon checking his Charlemont High School yearbook, one would notice that his dream was to break the 100m world record.

It appears that all Peter Phillips ever wanted was to be “Comrade Leader”.

Arguably, the best-performing minister of anything, it should be a no-brainer that Phillips ought to lead the country some day. After all, he has unquestionable brilliance and the 'Midas touch'. It was inconceivable that a man who is a proven performer had to fight so hard, on two occasions, to become Comrade Leader, only to fail and fall at the knees of the less brilliant Portia Simpson Miller. So, on the third occasion, his goodly colleagues took the decision that he should fight no more and elected to simply hand him the title that was duly his. This, despite the fact he had just failed as campaign manager in the 2016 General Election that the People's National Party (PNP) should have won, given his sterling performance with the economy. But alas, it was another loss.

Fast-forward to 2019 and the perceived golden boy is yet to mine gold, having lost two safe seats in two by-elections. Nevertheless, he sits comfortable as Comrade Leader even as the polls demonstrate that he is no match for his opponent, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Holness continuously leaves him in the blocks at the sound of the starter's gun and keeps widening the gap between them with every step. A Phillips comeback now seems impossible. It becomes apparent that his time has passed.

In comes the wannabe Bolt of the PNP in Peter Bunting. He doesn't have their hearts, but he is more likely to mine gold. Still, they shun him because, first, Peter deserves his time on the track. The PNP's attempts at marketing has left much to be desired when compared to the more savvy JLP. Or so we thought. This leadership challenge has unleashed a bevy of creativity never before seen in a modern PNP campaign. Bunting's vibrant young marketers have come out swinging in such a manner that it has awakened sleeping giants like Lisa Hanna to respond, albeit with unmatched creativity, but far better than we've seen from the PNP's camp. It gives rise to the question of what's really more important to Phillips and his minions? Retaining him as party president or winning a general or by-election. Where were the ads all along?

We love Phillips for the sterling work he has done, but our hearts have been broken enough. For sure, he is the Asafa of local politics.

Is Bunting the Bolt that PNP needs at this time? Will a strong coach step up and unearth the emerging champion, or will they all live in hope that Phillips will make it to the centre of the podium, instead of watching the medal ceremony from the stands...again?

Ann-Marie Campbell

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