Many of us had underestimated Holness’s political savvy

By Thursday, May 26, 2016 4 3

Even within the dark haze of tribal politics where one party’s truth creates multiple claims of lies from the other side, it can be said that many important sectors of the society have given a thumbs-up to Prime Minister Holness’s Budget Presentation earlier this week.


Not only did the PM steal the PNP’s historical claim to dealing with ‘the people’s agenda,’ he also launched into his delivery and maintained the tempo throughout with such a high degree of confidence that one would believe he had secured a 20- seat majority and not a mere one-seat advantage among the 63 seats that were up for grabs on February 25.


Back in late 2011 when Bruce Golding hurriedly resigned the prime minister-ship, Andrew Holness was not parachuted in to replace him. In hindsight the young Holness landed hard and utterly misdirected with the full force of gravity. Inexperienced and with the unease of a political thud.


Appropriately given the name ‘Baby Bruce’ by then Opposition Leader, Portia Simpson Miller, in late 2011 Holness lived up to the bona fides of what the name implied. In attempting to claim some moral high ground and raise the ‘ethical bar’ in politics, he spoke of bitter medicine to come and then proceeded to call an election at the perfect time to guarantee his party a perfectly embarrassing loss.


Either that or, the powers that be in the US State Department and our EU ‘partners’ had instructed the JLP in 2011 to fall on its own sword and deliberately lose the elections in the wake of the internationally aired shame, debacle and tragedy of the Dudus extradition and the mass killings by the state in Tivoli Gardens.


Let us now fast forward to 2016, and what we have witnessed even through the various shades of green and orange-tinted eyes is a Holness acting like a seasoned mountaineer who has repeatedly placed his flag atop Everest.


To properly assess the savvy, the rapid climb on his learning curve and the Machiavellian ruthlessness of Holness, we also need to look back at the bruising internal leadership race in 2013 between Holness and Shaw (who eventually lost).


At that time the long knives were out as happens in all political parties where it seems that the enemies within are much more treacherous than those usually targeted in the other party.


Take for example Daryl Vaz, the West Portland MP known for his fearless talk in JLP and national matters. Vaz was in the forefront of those unafraid to openly side with the candidacy of Audley Shaw. In the ministerial lineup, Vaz has been made Minister without portfolio in the OPM with responsibility for Job Creation and we assume, Growth and Production.


If those areas succeed, Holness will claim that Holness the PM made it happen. If the country continues on its long growth flatline the minister will be seen as ‘failure’ and he will be shuffled out.


During the 2013 election Horace Chang, the Gen. Sec. of the JLP broke with protocol and seemingly sucked up to Holness by endorsing him in the leadership race. Chairman of the JLP, Bobby Montague made the decision to remain vocally neutral even though he came under pressure to endorse Holness. Stoutly he settled with neutrality.


In the ministerial lineup Holness has stuck it to Montague by giving him the National Security portfolio, a certain prelude to the rapid aging of Montague and ultimately, political suicide.Then there was Christopher Tufton whose words during the internal race indicated that he was no fan of Holness for leadership of the JLP. At that time many were also looking at Tufton as a potential challenger to Holness in a near-future leadership race.


In the ministerial lineup Holness has also stuck it to Tufton by placing him in the shark-infested waters of Health where he is the Minister. In the highly under resourced Health Ministry Tufton will be bitten by Zika-Z mosquitos, swamped in swine flu and bloodied by trauma cases resulting from a society in a long dance with violence.


We will not be hearing much from Tufton anytime soon insofar as it relates to his political ambitions.


Humanly dysfunctional and at times, childishly petulant, Everald Warmington must have known that apart from him being a modern day reprise of ‘backra massa’ locked inside a black skin, he did not merit any ministerial posting.


But Holness knew that the perennially belligerent WARmington represented that one-seat advantage. In his crib he had to be given a baby shaker to rattle so that the eternal wailing could subside.


So Holness allowed Warmington to believe that he had arrived to take his spot among the political elite and slipped him through the side door and probably said to Warmington, “If it floats your boat, you may call yourself Minister or at least a piece of a Minister. What you will actually do is anyone’s guess. But please just keep out of my way.”


Prime Minister Holness has learned well from his mentor, Eddie Seaga, the man who dug up the clay in the 1990’s and molded the youngster and called him Andrew Holness, future PM.


Take him lightly at your own risk. His next target? The PNP.



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Mark Wignall

Mark Wignall

As one of Jamaica’s most read columnists if not the most read, Mark Wignall began with a brief stint writing for Jamaica’s oldest and most respected publication, the Gleaner - it's Sunday edition...
Mark Wignall

    A most interesting piece, Mark.

  • markwignall

    Thanks Esteban. Holness ain’t no slouch

  • trevorwilliams

    I do not agree with most of Mark’s innuendos and sarcastic remarks about my Prime Minister, the Hon. Andrew Holness. He seems to put something negative to everything the Prime Minister has done, even with the assigning of cabinet posts. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has more political capital and
    resources within him than many had imagined. He will be around for a long time. It is going to take someone new from the PNP to wrest power from him; especially when the economy takes off.

  • Cambie

    Yu need to sing a sankie and light a candle and find your way back home to Jamaica observer.