Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Holness: flaccid retort, poor judgement

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Bruce Golding must be taken aback to be numbered among "those chasing after a fleeting and elusive dream called integration" - and by the man he contrived to have installed as leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and, briefly, prime minister of Jamaica.

For that's what Mr Golding did when he resigned in 2011 and declared that his successor should be a younger person and not of Jamaica's pre-Independence generation. He essentially cleared the path for Andrew Holness, the current leader of the JLP, who is now 42.

Not during his active political life, or now, has Mr Golding been considered an instinctive Caribbean integrationist, although we suspect that his keen intellect often leads him to the utility of regional cooperation, including, recently, to the practical value of Jamaica acceding to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its court of last resort.

The JLP, where residual anti-regional sentiments reside, opposes the court, unless, as Mr Holness says, Jamaicans approve it in a referendum, which the governing People's National Party (PNP), and many other people, fear would become a plebiscite not on the CCJ, but on all manner of political concerns.

But writing in this newspaper a fortnight ago, Mr Golding revealed his own conclusion of the unsustainability of Jamaica's retention of the UK-based Privy Council as its final court, and that as prime minister he canvassed, and rejected, the idea of establishing a Jamaican final court as unaffordable. Mr Golding was far moved by ideology.

He said: "I am more concerned that even if we choose not to leave the Privy Council, it can choose to leave us, notwithstanding the periodic assurances we receive from the UK. The hearing of our appeals represents a cost to the British government that has so far survived austerity measures, but that is hardly a basis for confidence that our judicial arrangements are secure."

 

FLAT REJECTION

 

It was, in part, against this backdrop that this newspaper was surprised that Mr Holness led his party in an anti-CCJ vote in the House of Representatives last week and we are disappointed in his reported flat rejection, without a counterproposal, of a government-proposed framework for his party's support for the law to establish the CCJ that would incorporate a referendum.

It is our considered view that Mr Holness, motivated by a wish to deny to his government opponents any perception of victory, not only engaged in old politics, but continued to demonstrate poor judgement and, regrettably, deficient leadership.

It is unfortunate that Mr Holness' primary response to our critique was to "affirm that I am a nationalist; always have been, always will be", and to declare not to be of the school chasing integration, which, of course, is a flaccid retort to our own arguments and Mr Golding's sound idea for engaging the CCJ. This lacks the kind of transformative leadership for which we hope.

If Mr Holness had given the matter thought - which we have no cause to believe he did - and was keen on assuring access to justice at all levels for ordinary Jamaicans, rather than angling for narrow political advantage, he might have been able to fashion an idea for a referendum on the court that depoliticised the issue. And he might not have impugned Bruce Golding.

It is still not too late to change tack.