So, the nation was advised late last Monday afternoon, that the Prime Minister would address the Nation, on matters of “National Importance’ at 5:00pm
Now, if ever there was going to be a giveaway that the Address, was reactionary and not proactive was the fact that a Press Conference that was scheduled for 5:00pm, was moved to 5;30p, then 6 00 pm, only to eventually get underway, sometime after 600pm.
If all these moving goalposts were not indicative of the disorganization surrounding the planning of the Prime Ministerial Presser, it spoke to all kinds of tensions going into the actual conference.
According to our sources, the Press Conference was preceded by a Cabinet meeting of sorts, where the Prime Minister went in feeling like the Brogad, he’s dubbed himself but came out emasculated, drastically defanged, and with a tenuous grip on his current job, as during the meeting, it became clear that his Caucus, no longer prepared to give him Carte Blanche, as they now realize their own political survival, depends on checking his impulsive tendencies.
Our sources say, the Prime Minister went into the Cabinet Meeting with a wishlist and came out substantially weaker than before he went in, as his colleagues rubbished his wish list and offered up one of their own. Firstly, we were told that the PM went into the meeting wanting to roll back and or suspend the new Pay increases, his finance Minister, had announced only days before, (and resulted in setting the people against him and his Government). But, the Ministers were not having it! There would be no rollback or suspension, as some Cabinet Ministers argued that the last time the Cabinet got a pay increase was some 30 years ago. And so they were not prepared to forego, this round of increase, as that would only set them back further.
Others argued that they were still substantially behind in emoluments as if they were being paid commensurate with earlier findings, they would be earning substantially more than was offered by the Finance Minister.
Sources say, as it became clear that the majority of his Cabinet appointees were not about to budge, on the issue of the Salary increase, he pivoted to what he thought would be a more amenable subject matter – that of the Cabinet reshuffle – But we were told this, is where he lost near total control, as we were advised the list of changes he went into the meeting with, is not the one he came out with, and that accounts for his feckless, and somewhat petulant performance at the Press Conference, later where commentators said he appeared tired, laboured, and lumbering, bereft of a cogent policy framework in which to package the changes he announced, and subsequently came across as a rambling, sometimes irritable and lost leader.
We are told the Prime Minister’s wishlist included: naming newly minted Senator Abka Fitz-Henley, as the New Information Minister; dismissing Fayval Williams From the Cabinet, and shifting Kamina Johnson-Smith, from Foreign Affairs. As our sources say he is now ready to throw Johnson-Smith under the bus, ahead of her Court date, regarding the source and accounting for her failed and politically disastrous bid to oust Baroness Scotland, as Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
Well, he got none of that. As we heard he was presented with a list of changes from his Ministers that they wanted. That list included; Babys’ demand that Alando Terrelong be relieved of his duties as State Minister in her Ministry; Aubyn Hill’s insistence that Norman Dunn, be removed from his Ministry; and the demand by Chris Tufton, that Cuthbert Flynn be removed from the roster at the Health Ministry.
We also heard that it was Babsy, who led the charge to keep Kamina Johnson Smith at Foreign Affairs and Fayval Williams at the Education Ministry, as she thought the Women caucus was under-represented in the Cabinet and any further degradation of their roles, by the removal of two portfolio Ministers, was not a good look. Plus we were further advised, that she’s at odds with the Prime Minister, as she wanted to opt out of representational politics, for a Diplomatic Posting, as she requested being designated the Jamaican High Commissioner to Canada, but the Prime Minister opted to approve a Career diplomat for that post, and because her request was not granted, she’s ‘up in her feelings’, against the PM.
It’s those feelings we hear, that spurred her to ask that Terrelonge be removed from her Ministry. As some say this is because Terrelonge has the ability to grab and hog the spotlight. And Babsy being a Publicity hog, will not have anyone stealing or sharing her thunder.
According to insiders close to the Health Ministry and its operations, Cuthbert fancies herself as an up-and-coming, heavy hitter, and was demanding more and more of the Spotlight at the Ministry, and Tufton, who it is said has higher political ambition, was not having it, so Cuthbert had to go.
But questions arising from that decision, still linger as many are still asking: why Cuthbert-Flynn, whom it is alleged, cannot travel to the US, because of outstanding legal matters there, was appointed to the Security Ministry, as her appointment poses more potential problems, than they solve?
Then there was the thorny issue of Pearnell Charles. Jr. Seems like there was general consensus that Pearnell Charles Junior, was a misfit at the Agriculture Ministry, where claims of favouritism when it came to approving Chicken back import licenses, as well as licenses for Onions and Potatoes; and the general mishandling of the Agriculture Ministry, including claims of corruption and selling out to big business, it seems Charles’s days were numbered. What many find befuddling, however, is why was he given a new Ministerial Posting, as those speaking contend this is his fourth posting and he clearly keeps coming up short.
First, he was posted to Security as Bobby Montaque’s Deputy; then moved to the OPM to oversee Water and Housing; followed by Agriculture; and now yet another, this time that of Labour and Social Security, where Norman Dunn, will join him as Junior Minister.
Now, many see this as a demotion for Dunn and a slap in his face, as they think he’s far better qualified to handle the Ministry than his newly appointed boss, and this can only serve to dampen his enthusiasm.
And speaking of dampening enthusiasm, our sources say, the only reason that Cuthbert, Terrelonge, and Dunn, retained their Junior Ministers status, was because the Prime Minister was trying to manage the fallout reversing their elevation, would have caused. So their new assignments were nothing more than Damage Control, as against the rewarding of competencies.
And there was Fayval Williams, who it was rumoured was warned from last year that her days in the Cabinet were numbered. Heard when she was told she had to make room, buoyed by Babsy. Performance and strength, earlier, when she was told she had to give way to make room for changes in the Cabinet, she stood up and in her own laconic way, told the Prime Minister, she was going nowhere…
And That was that!
Our Sources say mouths swung open, fully agape in total surprise, at her response, as they all thought she would have caved.
So the consensus is that the Prime Minister Came Out of that meeting with less power than before going in and that only strengthened Chris Tufton, as many, in that meeting hinted that they too had a vote, and if tested, they would go with Tufton and replace him as party leader..
Fact is. many are hoping Tufton will mount a leadership challenge against Holness before the Next General Elections, as they are convinced, the party and particularly Holness has squandered the good-will he was reluctantly entrusted by the people and the once in a lifetime opportunity, he was presented, to be a transformative leader. They now say the disappointment is palpable and made so much more unpleasant as more and more Jamaicans are not just taking to social media platforms to express their disappointment, but the vitriolic manner in which they are expressing themselves is suggestive of A Party Leader who is no longer an asset to his party.
They say, what those who bothered to watch his Press Conference yesterday, witnessed, was a Man at his wit’s end, running out of answers and without a competent core to keep it together. The source continued, you could almost pity him. But you shouldn’t because he created the pool of talentless; hangers-on he now has on his back benches and in the Cabinet. And when he’s offered help and or advice, he shies away from both, opting to keep his own Counsel, cause he’s too afraid of sharing the Glory, or allowing any but himself, to shine. And they say, that’s one primary reason, almost all Ministries, are headquartered at the Office of The Prime Minister, where he retains Titular control.
Our Sources concluded by saying in their opinions, the entire Press Conference, was a grand waste of time, and the announced Cabinet changes, were nothing more than mere window-dressing, that will not positively impact the failing fortunes of the JLP and its electability, in the near medium future, considering that this is the Constitutional electoral timetable, the PM must work with, no one is optimistic, the PM can pull another rabbit out of the hat, to salvage the plummeting fortunes of the JLP, because the Party Leader and PM, is so off the mark, he has not yet recognized that its time to launch the lifeboats, and send SOS signal…