The PLP were in an incredibly strong position politically before Christmas riding a tail wind of support due to some interesting political maneuvers. They were, that is, up until they invested heavily in Reverend Genevieve-Tweed and killed a great deal of momentum. It leaves one to wonder why they’re still supporting the issue when there is a clear lack of support for him. It seems like a very costly move politically that could evaporate support for opposing the airport deal and leave them with few cards left to play in the lead up to the America’s Cup and ultimately the next election.
The PLP were doing astonishingly well. Then the tide shifted when the Unions tried to shut down the island and threatened America’s Cup over Reverend Genevieve-Tweed’s work permit. It wasn’t a very strong play to begin with and was made considerably worse when the truth came to light regarding the Reverend’s true status, weird inaccuracies and failure by the AME Church to follow fair process. Now they seem to be going down the rabbit hole of supporting a legal action for him to stay on island while still having him lead public forums and threatening further civil disobedience when few seem to support it.
Is the PLP actively leading all of this? Perhaps not. However they did align themselves very clearly with the People’s Campaign and the Unions when they actively promoted and led the blocking of parliament. They also stayed very quiet and didn’t call out any of the People’s Campaigns actions and only belatedly questioned the threat to the America’s Cup. They tried to stay quiet through the mess of the Reverend’s work permit renewal ultimatum and the island shutdown but the damage was likely already done. Previously it might have been possible to disassociate themselves from the People’s Campaign and the opinions expressed by the leadership of the unions, but at this point that seems near impossible.
The opposition to the airport deal has also been so heavily tied to the People’s Campaign that the PLP may have lost momentum of public opposition on it. It certainly doesn’t help that in an interview the BPSU President and People’s Campaign leader Jason Hayward came across as uninformed. He certainly gets points for conducting himself in a calm and dignified manner worthy of his title. However, a leader also needs to lead and Mr. Hayward couldn’t put forth a clear alternative for the airport other than borrowing more money, which much of the populace understands simply isn’t feasible.
Blocking parliament may not be the winning strategy it was last time. Recent polls have shown that a significant majority of people disagree with it and worse this was a poll done before the whole Genevieve-Tweed debacle. Such an attempt might end up only representing those who harbour resentment with anything driven by the current government and not garner support and participation from the crucial swing vote. The wider scope of those who feel disenfranchised may not be so keen to follow Reverend Genevieve-Tweed anymore. He had a much stronger voice and following as a “son of the soil” than as the confusing mix of half truths that leaves few understanding what real ties he actually has.
The PLP were in such a strong position. The OBA had wasted a great deal of political capital which the PLP was capitalizing on up until they proceeded to waste a lot themselves. Reverend Genevieve-Tweed seemingly has transitioned from being a political asset to a political liability that weighs on their momentum. If the momentum is to be sustained they’ll likely need to continue stirring up animosity towards the airport deal without The Reverend’s assistance. Otherwise there may be few plays left as the America’s Cup may well shift public opinion given the sheer number of temporary jobs being created. Reverend Genevieve-Tweed doesn’t seem like a strong card to keep on the table so it will be interesting to see how they play it and what else they can do to sustain the momentum they’d build. It is interesting to note that the PLP seemingly has now pivoted to the topic of good governance and focusing more on what they would do in government. Especially highlighting a pledge to fulfill campaign promises that the OBA have yet to follow through on.