Fri | Sep 17, 2021

Mark Wignall | Politics and the new COVID-19 threat

Published:Sunday | July 25, 2021 | 12:07 AM

On June 22, the Government made a decision, which it knew was a big gamble on its part and on the part of the country. The big players in the tourism sector were reaping early rewards for their jump-start on opening. Those in the entertainment...

On June 22, the Government made a decision, which it knew was a big gamble on its part and on the part of the country.

The big players in the tourism sector were reaping early rewards for their jump-start on opening. Those in the entertainment sector where small-scale promotional events was their bread and butter saw ‘special interests’ as the reason for the relaxation of the pandemic protocols among the big players.

The Government had little choice in the political corner it had painted itself into. A hard-nosed political decision had to be made even as many people saw the problems racing downhill and rushing towards Jamaica House.

“I can see the disaster coming,” said a doctor friend of mine a few weeks ago. “We Jamaicans know little about fixing the things which really matter to us.

“The Government took over in all of 2020. It had to at a time when it, too, like all governments across the globe, was flying blind. Now, we the people were asked to play our part. In this we have failed.”

The Holness administration must have known that giving more Jamaicans added space for recreation and fun would be fraught with danger. Once indoor fun was reintroduced, we fooled ourselves into believing that wearing a mask as a chin guard would protect us.

At all times, the Government was quite aware that people at street level were wise to the JLP administration cosying up to the wealthy business class and giving them first pick at tasting the rarity of the dollar earned after the long drought in the year since March 2020.

Although the JLP administration knew that a potentially strong opposition PNP could bring about added focus on the dreadful state of the penny pinchers in the entertainment sector, recent matters that have overtaken the PNP now make that political entity worth of only a soft, ineffective word in the wind.

By early next week, the Government will have no choice but to reintroduce some stringencies into the pandemic protocols.


In the highly entertaining 1996 film Matilda, the horrid and beastly principal, Ms. Trunchbull, tells Matilda’s father, a twisted character, “My school is a model discipline. Use the rod, beat the child.” It is a film so all in it get to live happily ever after. The views of that fictional principal are all too real in Jamaica.

In the 1950s when I was a child, it was understood in the narrow marketplace of social acceptance that children were to be seen and not heard. In addition, corporal punishment in the home and the school were standard. Even in the prisons there was the cat-o-nine tails, a brutal whip that was applied to certain prisoners.

Some people from that period will probably say, “I got beaten by my parents and just look at me, none the worse for it.” I hated every minute of it and never applied corporal punishment to my children although I lost control on about two occasions.

The fact is that every new generation owes it to the next one to fix the faults identified from the previous one. One doesn’t have to delve deep to know that violence is learned behaviour.

Many of us who would claim from the highest mountain top that we love this country are, even now, destroying Jamaica by brutalising our children and making them unfit to participate in a well-ordered society.

I am sickened by the video clips of poor people brutalising their children and grandchildren. And all when there are friends and relatives gleefully egging on the sick and destructive behaviour.

At the core of too many of us is a violent disposition. I am not in the mood to make an excuse for my late father, who was quite liberal with the leather belt. I could say that he spoke to us and explained the beating, but that did not lessen the pain.

I know that parenting is most difficult and children no less so. But I also believe that if we constantly “keep in touch” with our children , converse with them and invite enquiry from them, there will be much fewer moments left over to lose one’s temper.


Two Fridays ago, all of the silent and noisy slap-slap of the leather gloves to the soft and unfit body of the PNP made its head woozy. The chairman and all vice-presidents resigned en masse, which, of course, moved the focus to the leader of the opposition the affable Mark Golding.

Mr Golding has probably discovered already that being a nice guy in his private life is nothing compared to being a roots guy in politics.

At the time when quite feisty ladies in the People’s National Party (PNP) were hurling barbs at PNP bigwigs, one sensed that Mr Golding was hoping it would all go away. It is quite likely that behind the scenes, he was quite active.

In political leadership, what takes place behind the scenes is only as good as what comes out in the public wash.

I saw where Karen Cross was calling for the return of Dr Peter Phillips. Okay get the joke - that she wants the PNP to be saddled by its last debilitating load is laughable.

But it is also sad.

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