Political debates: do the voters really care?

Written by Jermaine Evans

peterrocky2.jpgWith political analysts concluding that Bruce Golding of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) beat Portia Simpson Miller of the People’s National Party (JLP) in the leadership debate on Saturday night, JamaicaElections.com went on the road today to gauge the public reaction.

We wanted to find out whether the analysts right in their assessment, and more importantly, does the ‘result’ make any difference to voters whom we spoke to in the inner city Kingston communities of Maxfield Avenue and Tel Aviv?

Photo by Dayne Morrison: Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporting Maxfield Avenue residents Peter (left) and Rocky (right).

Not to mention that, as demonstrated by United States President George W. Bush, you can be viewed immediately afterwards as having ‘lost’ the debate, yet still win at the polls - when it really matters. This is what our respondents said:

Peter, a 32-year-old Labourite from Maxfield Avenue said that the debates did not change anything that he thought about his party. “A Bruce wi sey all di way … my father used to make bells, all now him still do it, so mi nah put down my bell,” he said. “Bruce won the debate.”

Rocky, 35, was standing beside Peter in his ‘Bruce’ t-shirt’ and said about the debate: “Mi did a listen still but mi never really care b’coz a Labour mi sey straight … a Labour party mi sey since mi born, no debate can’t change that.”

Over in Tel Aviv Ma, 58, was ironing her clothes for the next working day. “I born as a PNP, I grow as a PNP and I will die as a PNP,” she said. “Bruce sey, when him win wi (People’s National Party) ah go have heart-attack, an if him really win fi true, ME, as a die-hearted PNP goodly have heart-attack.”

Tia, 24 was lounging in Ma’s room with her crew at the time. “PNP, all di way … Well I nuh really care bout them debate but what I would like for Jamaica, when all this is over, in terms a anybody win, me’da like everybody come under one, me nuh waan no more two-party ting, jus one-party a govern di ting.”

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