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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06KINGSTON2251
2006-11-20 16:27:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kingston
Cable title:  

JAMAICA: OPPOSITION JAMAICAN LABOUR PARTY STAGES

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  EDU  PINR  SOCI  XL  XK  JM 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKG #2251/01 3241627
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201627Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3937
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0297
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0070
						C O N F I D E N T I A L KINGSTON 002251 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV EDU PINR SOCI XL XK JM
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: OPPOSITION JAMAICAN LABOUR PARTY STAGES
ANNUAL CONFERENCE PROCLAIMING "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"

REF: A. A. KINGSTON 1903

B. B. KINGSTON 2020

C. C. KINGSTON 2021

Classified By: Charge d'Affairs James T Heg for Reason 1.5
(b) and (d)

------
Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L KINGSTON 002251

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV EDU PINR SOCI XL XK JM
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: OPPOSITION JAMAICAN LABOUR PARTY STAGES
ANNUAL CONFERENCE PROCLAIMING "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"

REF: A. A. KINGSTON 1903

B. B. KINGSTON 2020

C. C. KINGSTON 2021

Classified By: Charge d'Affairs James T Heg for Reason 1.5
(b) and (d)

--------------
Summary
--------------


1. (C) With music blaring and clouds of ganga floating in the
air, the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) staged its 63rd Annual
Conference November 18-19 at the National Arena in Kingston.
Local media estimated the crowd of green-clad supporters in
the "tens of thousands," with the vast majority watching the
event on big screen TVs set-up outside the National Arena.
Kingston Mayor and JLP member Desmond McKenzie opened the
conference by reminding attendees that, one year ago, the JLP
had promised to build the party in order to win the next
election. McKenzie loudly declared "mission accomplished" to
the screams of JLP supporters. With the JLP statistically
tied with the ruling People's National Party (PNP), the
momentum for victory appears to be squarely in the JLP camp.
One observer, who also had attended the PNP Annual Conference
(ref A), noted that the JLP event had many, many more
attendees. The election may very well hinge on which party
can get more supporters to the polls. If the dueling PNP and
JLP conferences are any indication, the JLP may emerge
victorious.

--------------
Jesus Christ, Superstar
--------------


2. (U) The Annual Conference was staged in the fashion of a
rock concert with JLP head Bruce Golding the main act. JLP
Members of Parliament (MPs) and other JLP dignitaries sat on
a large dais and repeatedly stood to dance to the innumerable
Jamaican popular songs (and one oddly placed Kenny Rogers
tune) and to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Multiple racks of
speakers and a high tech light show completed the visual
effect.



3. (U) The JLP repeatedly utilized religious imagery that
compared Golding to Jesus Christ and the JLP to Moses with
promises to "deliver" Jamaicans from the PNP when they
triumphantly return to Jamaica House after 17 years "in the
wilderness." Interestingly, the highlight of the event was
not Golding's speech, but his son Stephen's. The JLP has
been reshaping and softening Golding's image into that of
committed family man (which has also allowed the JLP to place
a high emphasis on "family values" for the upcoming
election). When Golding entered the Arena, he did so with
his wife, son, and daughter. Son Stephen introduced his
father by discussing the PNP's attack on the senior Golding's
attempt to soften his image and the PNP's assertion that the
family has not been involved in the senior Golding's
campaign. Using the story of Jesus in the temple, Stephen
asked the PNP "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know
that I would be in my father's house? That I would be in my
father's business?" He finished by stating as Jesus is the
son of God, "I am Stephen, son of Bruce." The JLP supporters
in attendance began screaming and clapping and did not quit
for over five minutes.

--------------
The Message: Jamaica Deserves Better
--------------


4. (U) Speakers continually pointed out what has failed in
Jamaica over the last 17 years. In particular, the JLP
emphasized education and government reforms as well as a
promise to reduce both crime and corruption. Citing the
drop-out rate, the poor quality of education, and the links
between education, poverty, and crime, JLP speakers outlined
a six-point policy for education reform that included:

-Make education from early childhood to the secondary level
tuition free.
-Increase significantly the funding to early childhood
education.
-Get more churches and other social and civic organizations
to invest in education
-Build more schools and improve the infrastructure of
existing ones.
-Transform the Ministry of Education into more of a
policy-based ministry thereby providing more money for
education.
-Establish a National Education Trust funded primarily from
the private sector.

Guest speaker Wilfred Emmanuel Jones (the "Black Farmer" who
is running in UK for a seat in parliament on the Tory
ticket), noted the power of education to lift people and
nations out of poverty. He spoke of his own childhood as a
young migrant from Jamaica in the UK and his rise as an
entrepreneurial success story. Along with education, Jones
pointed out the need for government to "get out of the way"
of business.


5. (C) Golding, in addition to emphasizing the need for
education reform, concentrated the majority of his remarks on
reforming the Westminster system of government. This
included limiting the Prime Minister to no more than two
terms in office, strengthening the opposition party (no
matter which party it is) to avoid a "dictatorship" by the
majority, fixed election dates, separation of powers, an
independent central bank, an independent body to investigate
allegations of police brutalities, and a strengthening of the
justice system, among others. Golding also emphasized the
need to introduce harsh penalties for corruption in the
public sector. Interestingly, Oliva "Babsy" Grange, a
prominent and popular JLP MP, was not on the dais and did not
address the crowd. She has been publicly linked to gangs and
corruption, and brags about "growing" a don (raising a man
who became a crime boss - "Bunman" - who was killed in early
2006 in a shootout).

--------------
Comment:
--------------


6. (C) Despite the enthusiasm generated at the JLP
conference, there is as yet no election date to work towards.
Several attendees told poloff that they would not be
surprised if the election is set for before Christmas. (If
so, the election would probably need to be called this week.
We do not have other information suggesting that such a
decision by the government is imminent). Noting that the PNP
continues to sag in the polls, a later date (May or June)
will only give the JLP more time to hone their message and
continue their grassroots campaigning. In the event of a May
or June election, one observer noted that the JLP would have
to do something "very stupid" or the PNP something "very
smart" in order for the PNP to retain power. In addition,
while blaming the PNP for meteoric rise in the crime -
particularly murder - rate since taking power, the JLP does
not appear to have any concrete plan for reducing it. The
same can be said for corruption. Both the PNP and the JLP
continue to openly associate with known gang members.
Likewise, attacking corruption, while vital if the Jamaican
state is to be reformed and modernized, will be difficult for
the JLP as it has been for the PNP. In a sense, corruption
is what makes the political system move in Jamaica. The
Trafigura scandal (refs B and C) has resulted in only one
resignation. The money paid to the PNP (as either a bribe, a
gift, or a business payment - depending on the source) has
yet to be returned and there appear to be no further
ramifications.
HEG