Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Mark Wignall | ‘Check engine’ light has been on for too long, PM

Published:Sunday | June 16, 2024 | 12:06 AM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness making his presentation during the 2024-2025 Budget Debate.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness making his presentation during the 2024-2025 Budget Debate.

On May 21, a reader messaged me the following, “Golding should challenge Holness. Tell Holness that he, Golding, will renounce his right to British citizenship when he Holness complies with all the statutory requirements outstanding on his IC filings.”

On June 7, Opposition Leader Mark Golding, speaking at a divisional conference in Clarendon, said that Jamaica’s name is being impacted globally by the non-certification by the Integrity Commission (IC) of the prime minister’s filings.

Quite obviously, the prime minister (PM) has fallen asleep on not remembering that thing about glasshouses and the penalties for throwing political stones. Obviously, that was Golding fighting back against the onslaught of Labourites criticising his citizenship bona fides with a stress on his loyalty to Jamaica.

Let us fully understand the context. In political and electoral terms, the party bowling the fastest balls now is the opposition People’s National Party (PNP). Nothing has come to me to indicate that, since the February elections, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has found some new relaunch strategy to find the sweet spot it relished in late 2020.

Another thing to remember is this. Within each party and between both parties, there will always be aspirants for greater power. A standard operating procedure in this is the creation of dossiers.

It is always quite useful for an aspirant for more power to have a dossier on those who are likely to be the most effective and dangerous rivals. Marital, extra-marital, personal, social, business and the darkly political. In the prime minister’s case, this is an open-and-shut case. No one needs to have any secrets for him when the matter of his filings with the IC is mentioned. It is embarrassingly out in the open.

QUALITY OF GOVERNANCE

An important question to be asked is, why is there an inverse relationship between the massive salary increase that the government gave itself and the quality of governance. A reader asks, “Why has the level of governing and competence declined so sharply? In the private sector the whole lot of them, except the finance minister would be terminated for cause, including the PM.”

Minister Malahoo Forte does not want impeachment protocols as part of constitutional reform because she is worried they will be misused. Really? Or, maybe the implication of what she said meant more than what she wanted to convey?

After his election in 2016 PM Holness trumpeted that, in the first 100 days of his administration, he would implement legislation to include impeachment. Politicians have used history to give 100 days a bad name. Looking back at this, the first conclusion is, this was a promise delivered specifically to hoodwink the people. Worse than a pure broken promise.

Are you crazy? Unleash impeachment on those most impeachable?

One cannot escape concluding that the same sort of fear may have overcome the minister and she is really scared that some of her government members would be subject to impeachment, based on many of their actions to date.

The PM recently complained that persons are being paid to engage in character assassination on social media, and all against the JLP. Isn’t that now the norm, Mr Holness? And, since we have spun right back into glasshouses and stone throwing again, what was it that your Deputy Speaker just did in his character assassination against the opposition leader and his wife?

We all know that politics is not about the singing of hymns. It is rough and dirty. So, while Golding could have been seen as a legitimate target, it could have been launched without including his wife.

Another interim conclusion is that the JLP cannot afford to be seen as weak and wishy-washy while it fears that Golding’s name and his political aura does not enter a range where more people start to get comfortable with him. I am not there yet, and I may never get there.

The troubling thing which would probably not make me vote for the JLP (Holness) is the arrogance displayed by him treating the IC filings as a matter which will not matter too much for people like me and my age cohort.

IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE NDM

For a brief moment in the mid-1990s, Bruce Golding stood atop Jamaica’s politics as the National Democratic Movement (NDM) was formed. Unlike many other third parties, it hit the sweet spot almost immediately; finding the importance of the ‘movement’ in the perfect place to give birth to the political party.

Words like ‘new Constitution’, ‘impeachment’, ‘proportional representation’ were part of a wide array of words leading to a new direction, a new politics and a new Jamaican. At every gathering, every corner, every bar, the talk was all about the NDM. In an opinion poll done in Central St Catherine, the NDM drew even with the JLP.

But the leader, Bruce Golding, was never quite comfortable. A veteran of JLP politics and a student of Seaga, Bruce, at the top of the heavily funded NDM, felt as if he were in an exciting relationship with his hot girl (the NDM) while still pining away for his wife (the JLP).

I knew that the dream would not last, as the PNP and JLP were in our political DNA. One day, I was invited to give a presentation (a speech) at an NDM meeting some time in the late 1990s. Before I joined the head table, I sat among the audience. I wanted to gauge the energy. Bruce arrived, sat at the head table with D.K. Duncan and Beverley Manley, where he promptly fell asleep.

The NDM died that day.

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.