Author: Trevon Pollard | Date: 28 May 2019
As the 2019 constitutionally due election looms, and its politics are upon us, the question must be asked, what’s next for Montserrat?
With the formation of new political parties and the rebuilding and restructuring of others, the people will be faced with the decision to choose the Government they wish to lead them.
For a party to be successful in its bid of contesting the upcoming general election, it must adapt and execute effective campaign strategies in framing its message to the public. If we may recall, the 2014 general elections and the recycled rhetoric used; it’s clear persuading the public to vote and instill confidence in a party will be an assiduous task this election. The last election has opened the eyes of the people to various political ploys, gimmicks and strategies used to secure votes. Thus, politicians in this upcoming election cycle will be placed under heavy scrutiny by the public, to decipher his or her intentions and credibility.
To advance efforts of framing one’s message, parties must construct manifestos with a clear outline of their intentions simplified to the understanding of the layman. Also, it must lay out the road maps for achieving these targets against the current state of affairs. In this manner, politicians will be able to expound clearly on their plans and targets for the country on the platform and through the media.
However, disseminating information does not necessary guarantee public consumption, as we know it’s the electorate’s choice what he or she wishes to read or listen to. With that being said, parties must craft their messages carefully and choose platforms for dissemination wisely to maximize outreach.
A recent Microsoft Consumer studio shows “that the human attention span today is 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000”. With that said, whether it’s radio, television, internet or print - audience engagement is critical, because engaged audiences are more inclined to follow one’s campaign and are more likely to be converted into party supporters and will in turn spread the word to close friends and family in daily interactions and conversations.
It further calls for them to be innovative in utilizing technology and social media. In this technologically driven age where majority of the populous are owners of smart phones and other electronic devices with access to the internet, information can be easily accessed if it’s placed on the right medium in the right format. This is to say, not everyone has time or the patience to read a lengthy article, but they may have the time to watch a video or listen to the radio. This is where it all comes into play reaching different target groups of people.
The approach by politicians towards communicating with the public has caused a major problem to our political system. In 2019 our election year, we are seeing the politics of yesteryear emerging so early on the campaign trial without an official election date even announced.
We see politicians spending more time criticizing each other instead of addressing bread and butter issues and advocating or suggesting ideas for change and betterment. Instead of us seeing politicians speaking on their plans and policies they would implement if elected, they rather focus on bashing and dwelling on actions and policies taken by other administrations present and past. The electorate in 2019 are more informed and educated, and that aged old political practice will not encourage supporter but serve as a major means of deterrence.
The praises of media houses must be sung as election coverage over the years has satisfied somewhat the need for information and its credibility. With MNI Media’s Fact Check and Election Central, and ZJB’s daily reports and media coverage, information was disseminated to the people. But are the media houses aggressive enough in their approach to political coverage and holding political hopefuls to task?
Let us take a look at the CNN network, and the 2016 United States presidential election - how this media network forced the conversation and the dissemination of information through debates. This is one important featured that is needed in Montserrat and its politics; forcing politicians to publicly speak on their plans and policies if elected. Raising the level of conversation, rather than talking hopes and dreams on the political campaign trail without filter for facts and now allowing politicians to fool the people, then once elected they become clueless and without a road map to governance.
In conclusion, let us think about the future and the direction we want our politics to go. Our structure is dependent on all of us through a united effort from campaigning, to elections, to Governance and holding elected members accountable. Politics is no joke and we cannot be playing trial and error with the lives of our citizens. The slogan all hands on deck means this, let us all work together for the betterment of the country, holding people accountable for their actions. The call is for Politicians with the people genuinely at heart to come forward and make Montserrat the beacon that it can be.