While the whole election campaign has been blown off course by Hurricane Dean; still flying in the wind are political flags, used to demonstrate party support and borderlines that separate differently aligned communities.
Flags - sometimes officially produced and printed by a party and other times torn from a piece of orange or green cloth - are one of the main symbols of party allegiance. However, much like European football hooligans, the rival colours can incite violence, by creating a clear demarcation, which exacerbates the divide between supporters.
Photo by Dayne Morrison: A Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) (foreground) and People’s National Party (PNP) ‘Portia’ flags flying on Maxfield Avenue, St. Andrew.
Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair demanded two months ago that all political candidates remove their party flags, posters, graffiti and paraphernalia.
Speaking on Nomination Day, August 7, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said: “I instructed my people that no flags should be put up, but I noticed that flags were put up on my way to the nomination centre.”
Flags remain a tradition in Jamaican politics.
At the intersection of Maxfield Avenue and Spanish Town Road in St. Andrew People’s National Party (PNP) ‘Portia’ flags are flown on one side and that of the Jamaica Labour Party on the other.
When JamaicaElections.com visited, two residents, 32-year-old Peter and his friend, bar owner Rocky, 35, could be found standing on the borderline. Both were waving their green flags and ringing their bells.
“Di flag no really do nutten, a just some likkle idiot bwoi put up flag inna di place,” said Peter, perhaps oblivious to the flag in his hand. “PNP a thief, u affi watch u back wid dem people deh.”
“From ever since Maxfield peaceful man, no political war no gwaan but if all a one man drop out you done know say sum’n might gwaan,” added Rocky.
Over on the PNP side was a barbershop, operated by Michael, 37.
“Usually inna election dem (JLP) stay over fi dem side and do dem ting, and PNP stay over yah so and do our ting,” shrugged Michael when questioned about the divide.
In the barber’s chair was ‘L. Williams’, 31. But explained Mr. Williams, the divide didn’t necessarily ensure violence: “The area no really have no political violence, PNP and Labourite mix regular up yah, Labourite campaign when dem want and PNP campaign when dem want.”