There is a clear signal that age and image will play a major part in the next general election which is constitutionally due by the first quarter of 2021.
And it is no less a person than Juliet Holness, the wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is sending that signal.
The prime minister, 47, will face off against Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips in the next election. Phillips turns 70 in December and many of his detractors claim he is out of touch, in particular with young people. This is a critical voting-block for both the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP).
Mrs Holness, while not naming Phillips, stated that her husband, apart from boasting sound intellect, has good image and is quite agile.
“We lucky, we have a young prime minister. We have a prime minister whose body tight and firm; a prime minister who sexy cyan done,” Mrs Holness said to rapturous applause and laughter.
She was addressing the JLP’s South East St Catherine constituency conference on Sunday where she used the occasion to endorse the party’s caretaker/candidate, Robert Miller.
As the people in attendance struggled to restrain themselves, Mrs Holness said “behave unno self, behave unno self.”
But, she was not finished as she continued to talk up the attributes of her husband, including his level of fitness and versatility.
“We have a prime minister who can run fi di whole day with probably about three to four hours of sleep. Him nuh sleepy sleepy none a tall, straight work,” she added.
According to Mrs Holness, young people are drawn to the “younger” JLP team which she described as intellectually strong, creative and healthy.
She said young people understood that the JLP team, with her husband at the helm, deserved several more terms in office.
While part of what Mrs Holness said could be deemed to be body shaming by some, persons inside the PNP have expressed that Phillips is too old and out of touch with young people to be able to lead the party to a general election win.
That was a talking point pushed by supporters of Peter Bunting, the 59-year-old Member of Parliament for Central Manchester who lost a bruising presidential race to Phillips in a delegates’ vote on September 7.
At the end of more than two months of campaigning, Bunting lost by 76 votes.