Sun | Apr 5, 2020

Holness’ weakness is debating

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 12:17 AM


Dr Peter Phillips has never lost a debate. In 2007, he defeated the late Dr Ken Baugh on social issues, and in 2011 he defeated Audley Shaw on finance. Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ biggest weakness to me is debating. Mr Holness has grown communication wise since his poor performance against Portia Simpson Miller in the 2011 leadership debates.

The new and different Andrew Holness post the Jamaica Labour Party leadership race has yet to have a debate. His handlers should let him do tough interviews and to be in front of audiences that aren’t his loyalists. To me those scenarios will let him be prepared and not unprepared for a debate.

It is interesting to see what format the Jamaica Debating Commission and both parties agree upon before the anticipated general election. Clearly, they will agree on having a debate between both party leaders, Andrew Holness and Dr Peter Phillips, and Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke versus shadow Finance Minister Mark Golding. Will they still ditch the social-issues category, where they could have a Dr Chris Tufton versus Peter Bunting? Will they ditch the 2011 youth-perspective category, where they could have Pearnel Charles Jr, Matthew Samuda and Marlene Malahoo Forte on the government side versus Damion Crawford, Lisa Hanna and Dayton Campbell on the opposition side?

Will they ditch both categories above and include security? The appointment of Matthew Samuda to national security ain’t a bad idea. To me, he’s a better debater and communicator than Dr Horace Chang. Shadow Spokesperson on Security Fitz Jackson has the advantage over Dr Chang even without any ammunition, because he’s a great communicator.

Sometimes a party is doing well but just can’t persuade the populace through a debate. You can have all the money, like Michael Bloomberg, and still get dismantled in a debate. You can have all the plans, like Elizabeth Warren, and well-scripted but still ain’t going anywhere. You can be very commanding, authentic and not spineless, like Donald Trump in a debate, and win a general election.

Teddylee Gray

Ocho Rios, St Ann