Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Neither hot nor cold

• Jamaicans lukewarm about PM, Government’s performance, new poll reveals • Analysts believe there is disconnect between citizens, Gov’t resulting in apathy

Published:Sunday | September 4, 2022 | 12:12 AMErica Virtue - Senior Gleaner Writer
Jamaicans tied Holness’ performance to that of the administration, with 35 per cent of the respondents giving him an ‘average’ grade, two percentage points higher that the administration’s.
Jamaicans tied Holness’ performance to that of the administration, with 35 per cent of the respondents giving him an ‘average’ grade, two percentage points higher that the administration’s.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Dr Paul Ashley
Dr Paul Ashley
Carol Narcisse
Carol Narcisse
Lloyd B Smith
Lloyd B Smith
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
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Two years into the second term of the Holness administration – and just over six years since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) took the reins of power – Jamaicans remain lukewarm about the performance of the Government and that of the prime minister...

Two years into the second term of the Holness administration – and just over six years since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) took the reins of power – Jamaicans remain lukewarm about the performance of the Government and that of the prime minister himself.

The tepid reality was borne out in the latest RJRGLEANER Communications Group-commissioned poll conducted by the Don Anderson-led Market Research Services Limited between July and August 2022.

Asked to rate the performance of the Government this year, 37 per cent of Jamaicans – the single-largest response category – said it was average.

Thirty-three per cent of the respondents gave the administration an above-average score, with 10 per cent saying the performance was very good, while 23 per cent said it was good.

The remaining 30 per cent assessed the Government’s performance as below average, with 16 per cent giving it a poor rating and 14 per cent saying it was very poor.

“The findings have shown that they are at the middle of the road, with the predominant finding being ‘average’. It’s reasonable to say that two years into an administration, people are not focused on elections, and the buzz that is around in housing, for example, is not the immediate focus of the majority. People just want to get by on a day-to-day basis,” pollster Anderson told The Sunday Gleaner.

RJRGLEANER-Don Anderson poll findings published last month showed that Jamaicans repose little confidence in National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang and Police Commissioner Antony Anderson as the island remains under the gun.

Faith in the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force has also waned as Jamaicans do not believe the Government has been effectively combating the country’s complex crime problem.

In a visit to Trinidad and Tobago on the occasion of that country’s 60th anniversary of independence last week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness admitted that Jamaica does not have the capacity to handle the types of crimes officials have identified here. His admission comes in the wake of Chang recently telling The Sunday Gleaner that, in hindsight, he would have advised Holness against promising Jamaicans that they would have been able to sleep with their windows and doors open under a JLP administration, while on the campaign trail ahead of the 2016 election.

“The feelings about crime will impact everything else, and they have already made those sentiments known. So people are just kind of blasé right now,” pollster Anderson said.

HOLNESS NOT FARING MUCH BETTER

Asked to rate the performance of Prime Minister Holness as JLP leader and head of government, 14 per cent of Jamaicans said he was doing a ‘very poor’ job, while 13 per cent said ‘poor’.

Thirteen per cent gave him a ‘very good’ rating, while 25 per cent said ‘good’, for a total of 38 per cent.

Jamaicans tied Holness’ performance to that of the administration, with 35 per cent of the respondents giving him an ‘average’ grade, two percentage points higher that the administration’s.

Political scientist Dr Paul Ashley believes the polls are accurately reflecting the mood of the nation.

“Jamaicans are living their lives without any dependence or affinity to Government or Opposition right now. Between the high crime and cost of living right now, they don’t see how their conditions are better off. So what the polls have found is a distance persons have placed between themselves and the Government,” Ashley told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

Percentages in the 30s, he said, were nothing to write home about, given that each party has a hardcore base of 25 per cent and the margin of error for the polls is plus or minus three per cent.

Ashley, who is an attorney-at-law, said the numbers are not a good reflection on the Government.

“Crime and the cost of living shift everything, whichever party you support, whether you are voter or non-voter. People are neutral. What it shows you is a disconnection, and people are saying Government doesn’t matter, and they are living their lives without them. It’s called survival, and there is not much of a difference between how they see the prime minister and the performance of the administration,” Ashley said.

He added: “Jamaicans are also tired of the high levels of corruption in Government, which many view as corruption on steroids, and, because they were powerless to change it, they just moved on.”

LACKLUSTRE OPPOSITION PARTY

Public commentator and publisher of The Western Mirror, Lloyd B. Smith, said he, too, believes the findings are on point.

“One has to put this in the context of a lacklustre Opposition party. There is also a great deal of apathy in the wider society – not just towards Government, but politics in general. So I think a passing grade reflects the overall sentiments where the average Jamaican may well say the Government is trying; they’re not doing their best, but they are trying,” Smith, a former parliamentarian who was elected on a People’s National Party (PNP) ticket, told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

“For many Jamaicans, Government has become redundant. A part of the problem is that neither party is a party of ideas, but they have invested in pandering to the one-upmanship and the lowest common multiple. Nobody is taking the high ground and leading people towards nation-building,” said the former deputy House speaker.

Smith said that, having made deposits in the past with no returns, many Jamaicans were seeing governments as just another business – like the banks or building societies – to turn to only when needed.

Public commentator Carol Narcisse said the numbers reflect a state of “chronic” – a term coined by the late transport mogul Ezroy Millwood to describe the haphazard nature of the ways things are being done.

“At this psychological moment in time in this country, we are in a state of chronic – a chronic disconnection from accountable, participatory and inclusive governance; a chronic commitment to governance by fiat, overlordship and rulership instead of servantship, and chronic in terms of mistaking public relations and announcement of ideas which sound like they have been plucked out of the skies at 3 a.m.,” Narcisse said yesterday.

“The marks represent fair to middling for the Government and PM, but we are still in a state of chronic,” she said.

Narcisse believes the Government’s own actions – and the inaction of the Opposition – have provided the means for the disconnect people feel at this time.

“We do not have an Opposition that is providing an alternative that is attractive. It is chronic,” she concluded.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com