A friend of mine recently accused me of being a political conservative. He went on to point out that such a characterization will undoubtedly cause me to find myself on what he described as the “wrong side of history.” The characterization and accompanying condemnation arose as a result of my defence of Trinidad and Tobago in the ongoing drama surrounding the decision of immigration officials in that country to refuse entry to thirteen (13) Jamaican nationals. Apparently defending the right of a sovereign territory, particularly Trinidad and Tobago, in the exercise of its legitimate right to decide who can and cannot enter its borders is an unforgiveable sin, a politically conservative sin and possibly even an unpatriotic sin. Jamaicans in our righteous anger and pride have condemned Trinidad and Tobago in this matter and many have gone as far as calling for the secession of Jamaica from the Caribbean Community, CARICOM. I take strong exception to this, and wish to share my unpopular thoughts on the issue.
The hour draws nigh. In just about twelve hours, approximately five thousand two hundred delegates of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will converge on the national arena to cast their votes for leader of that party. Theirs is no enviable task. In one corner sits the incumbent; the cool, calm, collected and self-styled transformational leader. He is a former Prime Minister, the former Minister of Education, the former Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, and current Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition; his name is Andrew Holness. In the other corner sits the challenger. He is the self-styled “Man-A-Yard”, allegedly the best hope to return the Labour Party to government. He is the former Minister of Finance and the Public Service and current Opposition Spokesman on Finance. His name is Audley Shaw. As tomorrow’s vote draws closer, the pundits are busy making predictions as to who will emerge leader when the dust clears on Sunday afternoon. In my last few posts on this leadership contest, I urged delegates to choose Andrew Holness. I listed, as best as I knew how, the reasons Mr. Holness should be retained as leader of the party. I am now prepared to go a step further; I predict that Andrew Holness will be retained as leader of the JLP tomorrow. Here’s why.
News broke late last evening that “Jamaica’s number one choice”, TVJ, had partnered with telecoms giant Digicel to acquire the broadcasting rights to the popular NBC talent reality show, “The Voice”. This move no doubt motivated by the debut of the popular Jamaican songstress Tessanne Chin on the show. That is all well and good, except when one considers the fact that the show would be delayed by a whole two hours. Predictably, Jamaicans reacted with intense anger, taking to social media to blast both companies. In a desperate attempt to fix their blunder, TVJ has decided to air the show live on an obscure channel, known as RETV, obviously this is less than satisfactory. I have to lend my voice to this issue, albeit not a singing voice.
After months of waiting, the country has the verdict of the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) on the Spaulding market scandal. The newly minted Dirk Harrison has concluded that Junior Minister Richard Azan acted in what is tantamount to a “politically corrupt” manner, in relation to the construction of shops on parish council lands. The Contractor General has since recommended the Minister to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to determine if his actions warrants criminal prosecution for conspiracy to commit fraud. The tabling of the report in the House of Representatives has thrown the government in a tailspin, with many sectors of the society calling for the resignation or dismissal of the minister. However, the Information Minister, clothed in her usual arrogance, has advised the country that no action will be taken against the minister until he has had a chance to consult with his attorney and his colleagues. Why would a man accused, by a Commission of Parliament, of political corruption be granted any time to consult anyone? To what end?
You will recall that some time ago I advised the Prime Minister that the time had come for her to step aside and allow for new and credible leadership of the country. Her inaction is again the subject of great concern and distress to me, only this time the inaction threatens the very legitimacy of the Government of Jamaica.
From as far back as I can remember, there has been a discussion regarding age and political representation. Many people opined that Jamaica’s political leaders were too old, and it was time for fresh blood to be pumped into the political system. This line of thinking was strengthened when the great liberal democracies of the United States and Great Britain elected forty year olds, in the persons of Barack Obama and David Cameron, to lead their countries. In an ode to youth, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding effectively prejudiced the race to replace him by calling for a new generation of leadership; realizing they had lost both the battle and the war, the old men of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) dropped their weapons, and lined up behind the youngest of the lot. Thus Andrew Holness was given a clear path to the leadership of the JLP and to Jamaica House. We are now two years on, and his position is under threat of a challenge; those of us who can see pass the here and now are realizing that the challenger, Mr. Audley Shaw, aged 61, represents a very risky gamble for the JLP. Mr. Shaw’s pending challenge brings the issue of youth and leadership to the fore, and if not treated carefully, it will have disastrous consequences.
If recent media reports are to be taken seriously, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party is headed towards an explosive leadership challenge in November, when the party is expected to convene for its annual general conference. It is all but confirmed that the Opposition Spokesman on Finance, and the self-styled “Man-A-Yard”, Audley Shaw will challenge the relatively new party leader, Andrew Holness for his job. Considering the divisive and turbulent internal political history of the Labour Party, many people are expecting a bitter and damaging process to unfold. While I am of the view that a challenge is necessary, if only to ‘legitimize’ Holness who was anointed, rather than elected, leader; I am uncomfortable with the utterances which imply that Holness is a poor leader, and therefore must be deposed by a challenge.
It’s perhaps the most anticipated horror movie of year, certainly of the summer; but for all the cleverly edited trailers, the fantastic make up jobs, and the promise of being based on a true story, The Conjuring is nothing more than child’s play and even that description is an insult to the memory of Chucky. No serious fan of the horror genre can take this movie seriously.