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No need for Holness to enslave senators

Published:Wednesday | April 15, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The founding fathers con-ceived of the Senate as a House of persons who could bring independent thought and fresh perspectives to its deliberations, unfettered by partisan political loyalty.

Norman Manley spoke of it as providing "a time for reflection" to allow tempers to cool, passions subside and to engage, to quote Lincoln now, "the better angels of our nature".

Mr Seaga now advances the role of the Senate as a defence against interference with the deeply entrenched clauses of the Constitution, using it to justify the opposition senators taking dictation from his 'Mini-Me', Andrew Holness. In other words, subvert the Constitution now to prevent it being subverted later. This is a curious argument.

With due respect to the Senate being a brake on a government hungry for power, we should remember a time in recent history when not even the Senate could have saved us. Michael Manley had won a massive victory in 1976 and began to set up the infrastructure for the creation of a one-party socialist State: the community councils, the home guard and the brigadistas.

chilling example

These programmes, ostensibly for noble purposes, would be converted to ignoble ones when the right time came. The brigadistas in 1980 gave us a chilling example of what evil they were capable of in the Gold Street Massacre of 1980.

In an hour of national emergency, it was not the Senate that saved us, but two men and the institutions they led: Sir Florizel Glasspole and Major General Robert Neish. Sir Florizel became a rallying point for Jamaicans without political affiliation who wanted to preserve our unity and democracy. Michael could not discount that.

When rumours of coups started flying in 1980, Neish gave us all timely advice that should be written in our hearts and engraved on the doors of Gordon House: "The army will defend the Constitution." There is, therefore, no need for Mini-Me to arrogate to himself a power to enslave the senators.


Bronx, New York