Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Mark Wignall | Working your way back to us, Nigel?

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2023 | 1:21 AM
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke

Romantic love is hazardous. When it works, one is constantly floating on clouds of ecstasy. When the flame fizzles and you add to it by messing up, your world tosses you into a pit of despair and a most terrible mental anguish.

At times there is a second chance. The lady may tell you to begin by cutting the lawn and sprucing up the garden like a pro. When you get thirsty you must drink water from the garden hose, taste the PVC, and rest in the shade of the old pear tree.

Then after you have worked like a dog on the night shift, she directs you to vacuum the living room and the soft furniture. For a whole week. And you must sleep on the couch. And if you’re lucky, in a few weeks, you may be invited back into the bedroom.

All that time she is giggling to herself as she watches you demean yourself. At least she is not asking you to wash and hang out her soft, frilly things. In full view of the neighbours. And we know there is a demeaning term for that.

With our finance minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, working his way back to us by significantly increasing the pay of many of those in the civil service, I figure that he is just about at the cutting-lawn phase of the troubled relationship. He desperately wants a cold bag juice, but mostly, a return to the ecstasy of the bedroom.

The relationship between politicians and the people is akin to an emotional roller-coaster ride. Logic and reason in the politician’s armour are hardly ever considered by the people as important while making their judgments on critical policy matters.

‘The only real “salaried” people in this matter’ are those various bands of workers in the civil service, the chief justice, and the governor general,’ wrote a sociology professor friend of mine. “The people view the politicians as hustlers who are always into the game for another comfortable spot at the feeding trough of government. That perception has long metastasized into the people’s reality. Official salary is meaningless when viewed that way.”

I will admit that the list of salary scales in the public sector indicate some impressive percentage movements. I am certain that the finance minister is hoping that the general public will look on and see it as a counter balance to the monumental self-imposed salary hike of politicians. He will have to wait, and for now, he has all of this year to claw his way back into being the Jamaica Labour Party’s rock star in Andrew Holness’s Cabinet.

“Mi still like Nigel Clarke,” said a 52-year-old street vendor to me last Tuesday. “I’m is a pretty man, and mi would a deh wid him,” she said. Then she added. “Dem type a man deh nah go wan mi,” as her smile broke into a laughter.

“What about the prime minister?” I asked. Her smile became a frown. “Mi lose affa him,”’ she said.


The Gleaner of May 31 carried a piece titled ‘Keith Clarke case postponed to June 5’. This pains me personally. In May of 2010, when the city of Kingston was into one of its most infamous social explosions as drug kingpin Dudus conveniently escaped from a JCF-JDF dragnet on Tivoli Gardens, dozens of members of the security forces swooped down on Clarke’s home in upper St Andrew.

The early rumour was that Dudus was at the premises. With his wife and daughter at home, close to the midnight hour, explosions occurred. In the aftermath, Clarke was shot dead. Some shots were lodged in his back.

A JLP government was in place in 2010, and another version of the JLP is in power now. Thirteen years now and the family of Keith Clarke must silently suffer his death over and over while it seems like various governmental administrations have had a heavy thumb on the scale.

The years have had little impact. Something in the system seems to be operating against getting justice for the Clarke family as the legal see-saw becomes rusted in place and real justice remains cruelly delayed and painfully denied.

Keith Clarke was my ‘bredrin’ and we always enjoyed each other’s company, especially our political wranglings, he for the People’s National Party and I in favour of the JLP.

On another matter, finance minister Dr Nigel Clarke had promised me that the incomplete report into the financial meltdown of the 1990’s (the Finsac Enquiry) would be released to law students to allow them to chew on it and give some sort of readable context into what really happened.

I have reason to believe that it would not be in the Government’s best interests to bring the Finsac Report out of its comatose state. One senses that it suits this government to allow whatever inefficiencies are left in the Justice System to slowly play out until the snail races past it. Until then, the Clarke family must cry some more, bear their pain some more while waiting and waiting and … .


Last Tuesday, Chupski and I took a two-hour hop downtown to gaze on at the development that had taken place. The transformation is truly impressive, especially the Roc Hotel. Seaga started it when he shifted the wharves to Newport West in the 1970’s.

The waterfront is more than worth a visit and maybe a stop for a drink and a meal at the Ocean Sky Bar, and who knows, even the old Moby Dick, for an excellent curry goat. While leaving by the eastern end of Harbour Street, I was forced to endure the horrible sight of the dilapidated stink of Southside, Hanover Street, Gold Street, etc. The blight represented the nasty politics of the 1970’s.

It will be extremely problematic for the governmental agencies to bring meaningful change to the lives of the people living in many of those houses. Bulldozing is not an option. Real lives are involved. And yet when one senses that Southside and areas like Tel Aviv must eventually give way to the bigger developmental push, one begins to discern the difficulty of making the seemingly impossible into a more pleasant reality and one that must happen.

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Send feedback to and