I just watched a video of the leadership debate involving the leadership of both political parties and I must admit I was very disappointed. Firstly much of the questions were nonsense. Where on earth were the persons asking the questions going with the issue of homosexuality and Trafigura, how does those two issues for example will influence the issues that as a country we are grappling with and must resolve, in our quest to move this country forward.
I must give credit to PSM on her opening statement which I thought was well crafted and it was clear that she came prepared with facts which she presented pretty well. Andrew on the other hand focused quite a bit on himself in his opening speech and not much on the party as he sought to milk the issue of youth for all that he could. I think he may have made an error here as this is exactly what PSM did back in 2007 with team Portia vs team PNP.
Deon Jack-Miller’s question on debt reduction and growing the economy clearly rattled the opposition leader who was seen struggling to find her notes and fumbling trying to find an answer to the question. To her credit, she did recover and eventually crafted a response that was not scripted for her.
On the critical questions, the time allotted were way too short and did not allow either leader time to develop and complete their responses, thus a tremendous amount of content was lost during the entire debate.
The leaders provided very little terms of their vision for the country. In fairness I will not entirely blame the leadership of both parties for this as I believe that this should be laid squarely at the feet of the Jamaica Debates Commission.
The question rang hallow, the answers shallow, the time inadequate, the visions lacking and very little on the direction that either will be taking to move Jamaica from poverty to prosperity.
Simply stating our focus will be on the following will not cut it.
- Growing the economy.
- Alleviating poverty.
- Reduction of debt.
- Increasing foreign Direct Investment ( FDI).
- Renegotiating a new IMF agreement.
- Increase job creation.
- Tax reforms.
- Public sector reform.
- Public sector efficiency.
No time frame was attached to anything and where one was provided, as in the case of the new IMF agreement, it was clearly unrealistic and shows a lack of understanding of international agreements.
Once again I cannot blame the leaders for the short comings in the debate as it relates to content, as it was what they were presented with. While 90mins may have provided a little more clarity and direction, I think the entire format must be revisited and a formula arrived at , which will have the leaders speak more to the issues facing Jamaica and how their various manifestos will provide the solutions we desperately need.
So in essence, I think the Jamaican people lost in this debate and in all fairness Portia did better than expected due mainly to the fact the bar was set so low, while in the case of Andrew he did less than was expected and he did not “destroy” PSM as many had expected.
A very poor debate, that offered up nothing new, provided no further clarity or direction that either leader will take this country, as we grapple with the issues facing us today.
They both will hit the campaign trail again making lots of promises but very meaningful and practical solutions for our problems and claiming victory in the debate. The fact is the Jamaican people lost !
Take a look at the questions I asked in a post back in November hoping these would have come up in last’s night debate