Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
AS JAMAICA celebrates its 50th year of Independence, a senior Cabinet minister in United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron's administration has hailed the friendly and mutually supportive relationship shared between the two countries since the island became a sovereign nation in 1962.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in the UK, Kenneth Clarke, said Jamaica has made significant strides as a democratic state and as a member of the Caribbean Community.
Clarke was leading a UK delegation to Jamaica, primarily for the country's 50th anniversary of Independence.
"If we had not given you Independence in 1962, and if the British had been so foolish as to try to cling on to their colonial empire, all that would happen is that the relationship with Jamaica would have been poisoned until the ultimate break actually came," Clarke said in an interview at The Gleaner's North Street, central Kingston,offices yesterday.
Conservatives gave independence
Clarke, whose political career takes him back to the early 1960s as a student politician, said it was a Conservative British Government that gave Jamaica independence.
The Lord Chancellor recounted that Iain MacLeod, a senior Conservative politician during the 1960s, was instrumental in breaking the British colonial rule over countries like Jamaica.
Describing MacLeod as a controversial politician, Clarke said the then right wing of the Conservative government "thought he was giving the empire away".
As a young student politician, Clarke said he was one of MacLeod's supporters who pushed for "independence for our former colonies and a different relationship with them".