Wed | Jul 8, 2020

Mark Wignall | Clarke whips Phillips in political Verzuz

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Political debates are hardly ever the stuff that those 40 and younger are even remotely interested in following. But add some spice and fireworks to it, and a new Verzuz is immediately generated.

Finance Minister Nigel Clarke is young, handsome, and at the top of his game in erudition and political oratory. Not exactly so for Peter Phillips, president of the People’s National Party (PNP) and opposition leader. Both spent hours last Wednesday, at times in intense and sharp exchanges, as they debated an amendment to the Financial Administration and Audit (FAA) Act, which was later passed without amendment.

Clarke was charged up by the immediacy of the times; Phillips wanted to take the files home and read and read. At one stage of the animatedly intense back-and-forth, while Phillips was talking, he sharply suggested to Clarke, “Sit down, sit down!”

Some context is essential. Based on Dr Peter Phillips’ contribution to political development in this country, he probably deserves much better public acceptance. Whether it is based on the factionalism carried over from the Phillips-Bunting leadership race or due to the consistent popularity of Andrew Holness, Phillips has never found a ledge of popularity in this country that he can stand on and reach for the other ledge above.


In Phillips, an unpopular politician dragging down the PNP in somewhat similar fashion to how Eddie Seaga weighed down the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in 1993 to the mid-2000s, even though it is expected that there will be times that will require his intense opposition to JLP policy matters or procedures, doing so while the JLP is presently earning high marks in the public space will merely guarantee him a political silver medal. That does not get him any relevance at the winner’s podium.

What I saw in the Wednesday debate was a confident Clarke who knows the political and electoral ramifications of the debates as COVID-19 still controls our lives. As much as the country’s finances have been laid bare by the ravages of the lockdown, it seems that the voting public is not in the mood to make any electoral gambles when the next elections are called.

I suspect that Dr Phillips knows this. If the default mode of his type of leadership is ‘done dead a’ready’ it makes sense that in any parliamentary debate, he throws the kitchen sink as far as he can and hopes it does not fall on his toes.

On Tuesday, June 8, 1870, the great English writer, then 58 years old, visited his 32-year-old mistress, Nelly, for the last time. A few historians have suggested that contrary to the history books, it was while Dickens was in an intense state of passion with Nelly that his heart gave out.

The smart lady called up those who knew about his relationships and arranged for him, in near-death, to be carried back home. He died the next day.

There was no pandemic at the time of the great writer’s death. Neither has there been any attempt to bring great men and their publicly expressed claims to morality, marriage, and the goodness of the family unit into an understanding of the constancy of the mistress throughout the ages.

Last week, a 57-year-old married businessman acquaintance of mine said of his mistress, “I haven’t been with her since February. She knows that there is nothing that will ever cause me to leave my wife. With all the wild sex, the mistress and I have a transactional relationship. She provides the heat and the kinky stuff, and I assist her in feeling comfortable by paying some of the bills.”

It is known that mistresses have come out on the losing side during these times of the coronavirus contagion. There is one I know, age about late 20s, who seems to be losing her mind. It seems that her man was her main support, and he has locked off his phone.

One day last week, in the space of an hour, she changed about eight outfits and walked from her verandah to the gate, all the while crying into the phone. “She is due to leave tomorrow,” said her Airbnb host. “She is from the west of the island. Her money ran out two days ago. I am sorry for her, but she has to go. I am in business, not social work.”

I decided to ask the 41-year-old hostess about mistresses and married men. “Why do men keep other women?” I asked.

“Honestly, I don’t think unnu can help it. It is just the dog side of man.”


It has been long established that President Donald Trump is a badly broken individual who has carried over into his adulthood all of the pains that defined his childhood hangovers. He is driven by cruelty, and his lack of anything resembling a viable humanity gives him reason to get up in the morning just so he can spew more bile.

More than a few pundits have suggested that he may refuse to give up power should he lose in November. I believe that he may use social media, especially Twitter, to fan the flames of violence among his ‘deplorables’, that part of his fanatic base that is well armed and may be waiting on word from him to take out their wrath on the streets all across America.

In his present ‘war’ with Twitter, he has taken on the social-media site and has claimed powers he does not have. Twitter dared to add a fact-check button to one of his tweets about mail-in ballots, and it has triggered another dangerous temper tantrum by that crazy guy.

Although Twitter has refused to delete his offending and dangerous tweets, I believe that if he should lose in November and decides to use Twitter to empower white supremacists and Nazi-type elements, Twitter will be forced to ban him at that time. And so will Facebook.

- Mark Wignall is a political- and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to and