Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Independence error! - Only 27% of Jamaicans think the country would be in a worse position if it had remained a British colony

Published:Sunday | August 6, 2017 | 8:00 AMSyranno Baines

Even though the history books have recorded 55 years of political Independence, almost half of the country still believe Jamaica made a wrong move when it decided to go it alone on August 6, 1962.

A recently conducted Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll found that 49 per cent of Jamaicans believe the country would be better off today if it had remained a colony of Great Britain, with only 27 per cent of respondents disagreeing.

Of those who think it was a wrong decision to cut the umbilical cord with Britain, 62 per cent say the economy would be stronger while 13 per cent say the country would have better governance.

A desire to be part of an independent nation and the fact that Jamaicans were colonised or enslaved by the British are two of the main factors for those who believe the right decision was made when our forefathers pushed for Independence.

 

'Non-progressive thinking'

 

Political historian Troy Caine is at a loss to understand the "non-progressive thinking" that would cause people to believe Jamaicans would be better off today if the country had remained a British colony.

"Unlike so many nations, we never had to fight for our Independence. We qualified for that Independence on the basis of our own economic, cultural and political development, the stability of our democracy and the distinction of our natural resources," said Caine.

"Remaining a colony at a time when most former British, French, Belgian and Portuguese colonies were gaining Independence around the globe would have been a backward step.

"It meant the perpetuation of foreign control of our people, economy and natural resources. It meant Jamaicans regarded as second- and third-class citizens in their own country. Far more colour and class prejudice than exists now would have continued and many other issues that just attaining self-government would have solved," added Caine.

While supporting Jamaica's move away from colonialism, senior lecturer in sociology at the University of the West Indies, Dr Orville Taylor, argued that greater benefits could have been derived from the decision.

According to Taylor, those who argue that Jamaica would have been better off could reason that way because they think it would mean greater economic opportunities.

"Bearing in mind that at the peak of the industrial revolution, little Jamaica contributed 20 per cent of the British gross domestic product, there's no reason why Jamaican citizens shouldn't have greater economic access to the United Kingdom (UK)," argued Taylor, as he endorsed calls for reparation from the British.

"The reparation argument for me is not simply about slavery and the disadvantages, etc. It's the fact that England used the resources of the Caribbean, and Africa as well, in order to make itself big.

"Jamaicans fought in both world wars for the UK as well. So, if a set of people send their citizens to fight for your global democracy or fight in your local civil war in Europe, why shouldn't they be able to travel visa-free to the UK and gain employment?" added Taylor.

The Johnson poll was conducted from June 9-11 across the island with 1,500 respondents and a sampling error of plus or minus two per cent.