Those JLP ads: are they changing the course?

Written by Dayne Morrison

A group of friends are drinking in a bar. One of them goes to buy a round. He pauses; turns around and asks his friends what they will be having.

Well, he almost does.

“We not changing no course!” interrupt his friends in unison.

Those words uttered by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, and then spliced in a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) election campaign advertisement, have now entered the national consciousness. Replayed in commercial breaks throughout the day, they echo across Jamaica.

YouTube video clip of the advertisement. Click here to watch part 2

Appropriated by the JLP, taken to by the public and now with the People’s National Party (PNP) attempting to re-appropriate their leader’s words, the question remains: has it been successful?

Two people who were unlikely to agree were JLP spokesman Delano Severight who replies with a sure “Yes!” and PNP spokesman Julian Robinson, who not unexpectedly, says “No!”

“It’s absolutely working for the JLP,” maintains Mr. Seiveright. “The effect on the population is frankly outstanding and beyond our expectations and the most important aspect of the issue is that we’re really connecting to the grassroots and the PNP have realised this. They have tried to spin it but it has backfired on them.”

By that he means the PNP’s reuse of the phrase on campaign platforms, including Mrs. Simpson Miller herself, when announcing the August 27 election date; much to the glee of the comrades crammed into Half-Way Tree that Sunday a fortnight ago, who shouted the words just as lustily as Labourites might.

“I do think the ‘Not changing course’ campaign has backfired on the G2K, ” contends Mr. Robinson of Generation 2000, the young professional arm of the JLP, which produced the advertisement. “The slogan has become a rallying point for PNP supporters as it endorses the course of development and economic growth.”

But what do the voters think? The word on the street in Downtown Kingston is mixed.

Says Chin*, a 20-year-old man who works downtown: “The ‘not changing course’ slogan is working in favour of Portia, the PNP says that they are in forward mode, towards development and growth. So in that light, you can see where it has backfired on the G2K, to Portia’s benefit.”

Ricky*, 25, thinks differently: “Our course ‘affi change! Wah di boss say? All a dem weh a go ina wrong direction and still nah change course … Every time Portia hear dat she mad.”

But then others, like Daddy G*, 47, would like to change the course of Jamaican politics entirely: “Right now me sick a hearin’ dem. Doe even waa’ hear dem ‘Nah change course’. After years of witnessing politics, all now me nuh see no better, matter of fact … wouldn’t mind no voters turn out this year … Mek dem get ah lick.”

* Names changed upon request

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