Thu | Dec 13, 2018

Mark Wignall | And still, the PM persisted

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness making a presentation in Parliament last Wednesday.

A politician is by no means a rare find if one wants to forage all over. In truth, the composition of most politicians supports the obvious finding that they are highly motivated individuals, but with what end in mind, we do not fully know.

What separates a politician from the ordinary man at street level is that the politician is dead sure he knows what the little man wants, while the ordinary folk among us are quite adamant that politicians are the perfect mix of con man and a DJ aching to 'buss', and that too low a percentage of those are desperately trying to advance the lives of the least among us.

In this dispensation, we stand apart from each other and are not too terribly concerned if we will ever understand each other. In many ways, though, we are closely connected. The politician owes his public life to people voting for him, especially if he stands atop the list of those skilled in the performance arts. At the same time, the people are locked into the system where the politicians dictate what is eaten, what is collected and stored, and what is thrown away as trash.

Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holness did not grow up being fed with a golden spoon or having an entourage of courtiers at his side. So, we know that as he is a student of hard knocks, he must know what the man at street level thinks is important and what he dismisses as just another politically entertaining period.

On that basis, PM Holness probably gambled that not too many people among the voting population would be too concerned if he tried to strong-arm his way to appointing Justice Bryan Sykes in an 'acting' role when there was no pressing need to doubt his full bona fides.

The PM was right. But only at first. As the 'acting' kerfuffle bubbled throughout the media, although the typical voter was largely unconcerned and is probably still so, the prime minister allowed too much negative focus to be targeted on his general performance and his ability as a leader to keep his head when the rest of us have long accepted that a trek to the mental hospital is on our list of things do.




Now that the media, civil society, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) and the force of social media have backed him into a corner where no good politician wants to find himself, the PM is set to reverse his action borne out initially by what could only have been driven by his 'errant ways.' Maybe that 'youth' advantage has its drawbacks.

The great irony operating in this Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration is that while there are fairly bright spots peeping out through sections of the economy, there are not many JLP voters who see Andrew Holness as they saw Seaga in his time in the 1980s as a 'financial manager'. In that vein, the best things the prime minister has going for him are his youth advantage over the lumbering Peter Phillips of the PNP and the light shining at one end of the economic tunnel.

There are countless versions of what led the prime minister to appoint Sykes as acting chief justice and not chief justice. To go by the PM's words, he is from a different time with different thinking. Vague enough to make you wonder if he has given up on the fact that the sun is at the centre of our solar system and he has become a flat-earther.

Eddie Seaga, who was prime minister from 1980 to 1989 and leader of the JLP from 1974 to 2005, was considered by many to be a stubborn man. This probably meant that once he was sold in his mind that a policy was just, workable and manageable, there were very few in his party or cabinet who could tilt him from his decision.

We cannot be far off if we make the assumption that, as the mentor of Andrew Holness, some of Seaga's stubbornness has made its way into the vitals of our youthful and demonstrably misguided prime minister, especially as it relates to Justice Sykes.

One assumes that there will be another ceremony to make the final appointment. Maybe the PM begins with, 'A did fool onnu!'