Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Ronald Thwaites | Throne Speech let-down

Published:Monday | February 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Ronald Thwaites

It was unfair to Sir Patrick Allen, who is a good man, to give him such a jumble of platitudes and rehashed proposals to read last Thursday in that remnant of ersatz-colonialism, the Throne Speech, with which we still burden ourselves.

Try as he might, our governor general could summon up no enthusiasm, projected no inspiration, as he obviously laboured through an overlong and, frankly, boring presentation.

The opening of Parliament should be used for an affective reaching out to people, showing how Government will try to meet their broad concerns and rallying them to shared optimism and activity.

Raymond Pryce is right. It should be the People's Speech - not pedestrian and never partisan.

So how did traffic on Barbican Road, repairing police cars, and importing dogs make it into a Throne Speech? And after promising no further taxes, then rifling from everyone to benefit the few, with the inevitability of even more tax to lick us on top of the unnecessary billions last year and continuing; after the arrant wastage of the $800-million bush-clearing scandal and the cruel purge of the public service; to have Sir Patrick prate that "our collective fate is tied to the outcomes of the unified actions of our people" reduces the Gordon House exercise to derision.

No, Sir Patrick, we prize your unifying office and earnest persona too highly to have you assert that there is "conscious cooperation" between Government and Opposition on issues that matter to the vast majority of our people.

We want people to believe everything you say, and that very significant assertion, crucial to progress, is simply not true. Triumphalism, exclusion and arbitrariness in Government are what is happening.

By some unexplained stratagem, copies of the Throne Speech text were not distributed to all members until the presentation was halfway done. By that time, most of us had lost the thread, and by Page 18, attention had seriously waned. The usual chatter and laughter interposed.

I wondered what the assembled diplomats and public officials thought of us. How seriously should they really take the nation's lawmakers? That must have been the question on many of their minds.

 

NO MENTION OF MINISTRIES

 

The content of the Throne Speech outlined the proposed activities of each ministry for the coming financial year. Except, unbelievably, there was no mention of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. But aren't these the subjects on which most reliance must be placed for employment and growth?

Well into his peroration, some paper was awkwardly handed to the head of state, as if an afterthought, with a few words on Mr Samuda's portfolio. But by then, we had grown weary of the performance.

"Through unified action we can achieve shared prosperity," was Sir Patrick's concluding charge. I thought I heard him change the word 'prosperity' (repeated ad nauseam in the speech) to 'national vision'.

In sum, a let-down.

- Ronald Thwaites is member of parliament for Central Kingston and opposition spokesman on education and training. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.