Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Daniel Thwaites | A weh yuh get dah new Clarkes deh, Dawdy?

Published:Sunday | April 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Member of Parliament Dr Nigel Clarke gets a hug from a constituent of St Andrew North West. “It’s a shame that our system forces people with technocratic skills into the hurly-burly of representative politics if they have a role to play in the executive,” says commentator Daniel Thwaites of the usually straight-laced Clarke.
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The rearrangement of the executive that took place over last week was more of a Cabinet 'ruffle' than a Cabinet 'shuffle', but it was significant nonetheless. Mr Holness has asserted his complete control, which in earlier times used to be known as 'donmanship', over the Labour Party, and, equally importantly, is sporting a new Clarks, or in this case, Clarkes. The only thing left for life to completely mimic art is for the straight jeans and cut-off foot parts (although we might see that again when river-crossing time comes again in the next 'buy-election'):

"Real bad man nuh model inna

shorts,

Straight jean, cut-off foot parts.

Everybody haffi ask weh mi get mi

Clarks?

Everybody haffi ask weh mi get mi

Clarks?"

I don't want to assume the mantle of prophet, but I had been pointing out for two years now that Audley was, in fact, the deputy finance minister. Now the titles have been brought into alignment with the pre-existing reality.

Overall, I think the prime minister has performed a creditable manoeuvre. I'm not saying the ball is sailing into the stands, but it's certainly racing towards the boundary. In one move he's established that 'is fi him place', he's placed some powerful old bulls into semi-retirement under his watchful eye, and he's further promoted competent loyalists. Pretty good for a day's work.

 

DEFLECTED SCANDAL

 

And that's not even all. He's also deflected an oncoming scandal about the expensive SUVs, where the ministerial cohort seems to have kitted itself out with vehicles for roughly the same money spent by the national security ministry to NOT kit out the police with vehicles. And everyone seems to have forgiven Rudyard's piece of truth-telling about Rural Agricultural Development Authority.

My question is: What are we to make of the stout defence of Man a Yaad that Andrew himself just gave in the Budget Debate? I'm not even talking about the recognition and awards that Audley was supposedly getting. I did no research into the credibility of those awards and at least one of them looked decidedly sketchy. But let's put that one-side. If, according to the prime minister, Audley was performing so creditably, why in heaven's name would you move him into the hog pen?

As an Audley fan, it kinda burn mi, man. Everybody knows that Audley is my favourite politician. Well, at least he used to be. He's unfailingly entertaining and colourful, with enough depth to maintain a serious debate, but edging towards comicality at every turn. It's difficult to ask for more, especially if packaged as a Manchester red man. Cho!

There are so many questions to ask. Wasn't the election-winning '1.5' and the subsequent 'Phase it een' programme Audley's baby? So how yuh fire de fada? Plus, does this mean that Audley's promise to double the minimum wage is no longer bankable? Because that's what I was waiting on. Look like the workers get soak, no?

Anyhow, not since that reporter tried to ask him about the $8.3 million phone bill, and he had the unfortunate skin-out incident running up the steps of Parliament has Audley taken such a dramatic fall. This tells me that the memory of his challenge to Holness is still curdling somewhere in the innards of the camps.

 

WIKKID POLITICS

 

From another point of view, Andrew has at least been gracious about it by handing him a ministry with 'nuff' titles, but no amount of lipstick on that pig is going to make it anything other than the pig it surely is.

As the new agriculture minister, he needs to know this fact about animal husbandry. Moving from the pinnacle of finance to sun-hot and cow dung at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground isn't what he had in mind when he challenged, but seet deh!

Man a Yaad isn't quite 'Man a Street', but he has been ejected from the tenement, because, in truth, the landlord wants a different tenant.

That is why they say if you're going to kick the King, you haffi kill him. Because should the King live, which Andrew certainly did, he will gather his forces and make certain that you will never mount another attack. There's no getting around it: The greasy pole of politics is wikkid, wikkid, wikkid.

But in mourning Audley, I've almost lost my theme of the brand new shoes! I am delighted that Andrew has elevated Nigel Clarke, who I believe brings great gifts to the table. Andrew has, working within the confines of a very limiting and arthritic system, managed to put an incredibly well-qualified team into place.

Of course, the finance ministry will require a great deal of political sensitivity on top of the technical chops. Consider, for instance, the dexterity it will take to settle the wage disputes with the public sector, and the long road ahead with the reform of the civil service.

 

REPRESENTATION IS TAXING

 

Which brings me to another point: I've known Minister Clarke for many years, but thought him too much of a gentleman for the representative function, even though now that he will set his mind to it, I'm sure he will do well. Still, it's a shame that our system forces people with elevated technocratic skills into the hurly-burly of representative politics if they have a role to play in the executive.

It's suboptimal for many reasons, one of which is that representation is so taxing that only the exceptionally hard workers and prodigiously gifted have the time or energy to know their portfolios with the intimacy it needs and deserves, because they are exhausted with running a constituency. It's difficult to keep the leather or suede on those new Clarkes entirely free of debris in that environment, but the whole country, I hope, wishes him all the best.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.