Suzanne Leslie-Bailey, Guest Columnist
I deem as untrue and unfair, statements made that Andrew Holness, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and leader of the Opposition, is too silent.
The records will show that Mr Holness has been making the rounds and has spoken out on myriad issues affecting the Jamaican people. He has appeared on television morning programmes, lifestyle programmes, news, discussion and current-affairs programmes both on television and radio, editors' forums, held several press conferences, has been the featured speaker at service clubs, business and private-sector events, as well as school and church functions.
One can detect a clear determination on the part of Mr Holness to make himself accessible to the media and the Jamaican people. He faces the barrage of questions - sometimes meant to embarrass - frontally, honestly and with dignity - never being abrasive to, or shunning, the media. You rarely hear from him that popular sound bite - "no comment". This is in stark contrast to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
I think the problem that some people may have with Mr Holness' style is that it is unfamiliar. There are also complaints that he is not exciting. Translation: He does not coin ridiculous phrases that, quite frankly, insult the intelligence of well-thinking Jamaicans, makes guttural utterances about his opponents, screams threateningly, "I will be your worst nightmare!" and dances and prances from one end of the political stage to the next.
It is being said that Mr Holness must listen to the people and give them what they want. However, I believe that a true leader listens to the needs of the people and seeks to meet them, not necessarily their wants!
We must be careful that in demanding that leaders give the people what they want, that the line of demarcation between leader and follower does not become blurred! A leader is to lead - not follow! A leader is to create a vision for his or her people and articulate it clearly and uncompromisingly to the people - the followers. This is what Mr Holness has done.
Despite loud cries for him to revert to the 'ray-ray' old style of politics, he has consistently resisted such calls and has stridently stated that he is intent on transforming our political landscape.
This is what some persons are finding disconcerting. It is difficult for them to embrace this change and move out of their comfort zone. A divisive political culture such as ours will take time to change. But, with dedicated, steady and firm leadership such as Mr Holness', that change will come!
Mr Holness has also been accused of weak leadership. I think that persons are mistaking his 'sweetness for weakness'. How can he be accused of weakness when he has not bowed to pressures within and outside his party to assume a persona that is contradictory to his message of transformation? After two massive electoral defeats, Andrew Holness has emerged stronger and more determined to carry out his mandate of service to his country and people.
Our politics, for the most part, has been one of 'ginnalship' and 'Anancyicism'. Mr Holness has made it clear that he will not trick and sweet-talk the people, but will, instead, level with them - a new political approach, for which he paid a political price, but a price strong leaders pay!
A weak leader would, instead, cower behind the ever-present cloak of political expediency and tell the people what they want to hear - sugar-coating the facts and not administering the dose of 'bitter medicine' that is required.
Andrew Holness has proudly stated, and rightfully so, that he is not in anyone's back pocket. My translation: "He is not a puppet for certain moneyed interest groups, with self-serving agendas and who cannot pull his strings at their behest". How many leaders can claim this?
It takes a strong leader to resist such a powerful group, while weak leaders fall prey to the overtures of this influential class. It will take someone as unfettered as Mr Holness to be the leader of real change, who will solely pursue the people's agenda!
I urge the people to leave that old and beaten political path and tread the new political road of which Andrew Holness speaks!
Suzanne Leslie-Bailey is former research coordinator to then Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.