I have been accused by many readers here ever since my stinging critique of the ‘PNP god’ Michael Manley of being a JLP supporter.
As if being a supporter of one party makes me incapable of stating the facts as I see them. People must understand in this country that nobody is above criticism and certainly in my book no one is.
Now I have watched the ongoing crisis within leadership of the JLP and the attempts by some to destroy the party for personal gains. My stance has always been that the challenge to Andrew wasn’t about constitutional principles and the likes but it was because Andrew Holness was not running the party in the interest of certain business people in Jamaica. They are not getting the sort of noise from Andrew to make them comfortable enough to support him. It’s my view, that the Jamaica Labour Party has never had a leader that is as genuinely concerned about the poor as Andrew Holness since the days of Bustamante! None! And that is where the problem lies. Concern for the poor is seen more as a PNP thing (even though I believe they are the ones that helped sink 90% of all the poor people in this country into poverty) than a JLP thing by many business people and I may very well say some in party. Any attempt by a JLP leader to swing the party around to start devising ways to help the poor instead of waiting for a lost economy to start providing jobs is seen by many in the business class as a pro-business party turning socialist. That is rubbish.
That fact was brought out to me Sunday morning the first of March when I took up my phone and went on Facebook only to see an Observer story that businesses are threatening to withhold funding if Andrew Holness remains as head of the party. Alarming but not surprising. What these business people want is to have a Labour party that they can control. In 2007 when the party won, they did so because a lot of these businesses poured money into their coffers (coupled with the fact that people were fed-up with the PNP) and in Shaw and Golding they figured they would get huge returns, in buying government papers at enormous interest rates and the issuing of contracts with the idea that they would naturally be cost overruns. That didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. Two of which stand out: The global economic meltdown and going to the IMF for help.
A debt exchange program was then instituted that saw a lot of wealth being taken away from these rich people, with huge reductions in the interest rates government paid on debt instruments. They lost the polls heavily in 2011 because these rich people withdrew their support financially. The JLP has to kowtow to the rich money class in order to receive financial support and because Andrew is not seen as the man to allow the party to be run by special interests, they are withholding their support. These business people cannot be allowed to pick and choose who they want to run the Jamaica labour party! That means circumventing the will of the delegates of the party, who overwhelmingly selected the present leader to run the party! That would be the height of unconstitutionality, and I must dare say corruption! And those who seek to be emboldened to take over the party by such means cannot even be considered as leaders! They aren’t fit to lead anyone!
If these people believe that the only way they can get the party into power is by splashing out huge sums of money to poor Jamaicans to bribe them for votes, then why are they crying wolf when the PNP is alleged to have done it in Central Westmoreland recently? And if that is the thinking behind these people’s motives it then begs the question, who will a JLP Government benefit if they actually get state power? The rich or the poor? I remember the old saying: “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. The problem with the JLP is that it has never been seen after Bustamante as a party for the poor uneducated and down trodden, but for the rich and moneyed class.
The PNP on the other hand has been seen by the poorer classes as the party that looks out for them. The PNP will go to great lengths to show the poor they care even if it means running budget deficits, racking up debt and running everything to a shambles. They know that they can win people’s hearts and minds if they show that they care for the poor. Portia has done that remarkably well. The JLP will only further suffer now that this has come forth. People will continue to say that the party is only for the rich. In Jamaica the greatest political attribute anybody can have is to align themselves with poor. It’s the winning thing to do. The party needs to understand that money is important but to win they need the support of the Jamaican people and as it has been demonstrated over and over people will take your money and vote against you. What these persons who are hastening the demise of the labour party, seem to think is that after they have destroyed the party, they can then turn around, buy out Jamaican people and win state power. That is an insult to the living and to the dead. It’s time for politics to stop being dictated in this country by the rich and the powerful.
If we are to have a proper functioning democracy then we must be certain that our political process is not hijacked by unscrupulous persons or persons who have special interests that may run counter to the needs of the country at large. It cannot be that a leader democratically elected is being forced to step down because the moneyed class is not in favour of him. The question then follows: if people with money can remove a head of a party because they don’t like him, what will they do next? Or what will they not do? Will that party ever be able to govern in the interest of the people that put them there in the first place?
Those who seek to benefit personally from such means must also remember what happened to Arthur Williams. This time the difference will be they can’t go to court and win. Democracy is way too important to be left up to the highest bidder. If these people succeed in removing Holness as leader we would have entered a dark period in our political history, as there would be nothing to stop our politicians being ‘bought’ in the future. It cannot be an act that goes un-condemned or unchallenged. Jamaica is too important to us to be left up to the highest bidder.
The JLP is too important to this country’s survival to be left up to the highest bidder. Bustamante must be turning in his grave. The JLP is not for sale!