Tue | Sep 27, 2016

Leaders have not served us well

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir;

"... The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity ..." from William Yeats' The Second Coming.

Our leaders have not served us well, and it is not merely a case of good intentions hobbled by incompetence. While recognising the economic damage done by events beyond their control, our country has suffered gravely from the intensity, overriding every other consideration, with which political parties pursue and attempt to hold on to power. Anything serving these ends is acceptable and everything else, including the national interest, falls into line behind that.

Both parties have long histories of subverting the national interest in favour of their own. Such instances are not hard to find. Recall that just prior to the 2002 general election, the then minister of finance, with the full knowledge and agreement of his Cabinet colleagues, authorised public spending that he knew would have done damage to the nation's fiscal targets. The stated justification was that it was necessary in order to secure an electoral victory for his party. His party lionised him, to the extent that he became a candidate for president, and would have become prime minister had he won that internal election.

Conspiracy of silence

The current administration is in the process of doing the same thing, using every device to deny a request for extradition of a certain reputed don, while at the same time extraditing less well-connected persons. What shall we say about the dual-citizenship issue? In a conspiracy of silence, both parties, in contempt of the Constitution, gaily went about selecting constitutionally ineligible candidates to represent them. The diplomatic passport issue? Yet, another case of tacit agreement by the parties to subvert the public interest. Party members holding diplomatic passports, which they no longer had any right to, felt no need to return them. Public outrage sent them scrambling to do the right thing.

Finally, to that dark stain on the national psyche, gun violence. The beast was given birth and nourishment in the bosom of tribal politics. The current prime minister, when he was associated with another party, publicly acknowledged this link. That such links existed was old hat. They hoodwink us into believing that they are clean in this regard. Yet, gunmen continue, to this day, to ply their trade for the parties at election time. This unholy liaison, of many decades standing, has served politicians well, while blighting the country. Our leaders have not served us well.

I am, etc.,

MICHAEL R. NICHOLSON

PO Box 5171

Kingston 6