My 2-Piece on Jamaica’s New Prime Minister

Posted on October 25, 2011


Coat of arms of Jamaica.

Image via Wikipedia

Jamaica now has a new Prime Minister and within that context the country has been given the possibility for greater development. Let me state clearly that I personally thought Bruce Golding was an outstanding Prime Minister. Take the Manatt affair out of the equation and what you have is leadership that focused on building a nation. Mr. Golding may have taken the piss at a couple of people and he may have alienated some of his close allies but in the end he delivered in what he was elected to do. I may not like his style but without doubt I respect his achievements. In addition to his stellar leadership Mr. Golding has proven himself to be above the norm (among Jamaican politicians) when he stepped down or “packed his bags and left”. We can all be cynical and conspiracy theorists and believe he left for a myriad of reasons but until those come to light I am holding out that he chose to do what was right.

So Mr. Golding leaves and Andrew Holness is all but anointed as the chosen one. Was he my choice? YES without a doubt he is. Why is he my choice? Simply put, he is committed to the cause of building Jamaica. He may operate in a way that borders on boring (remember PJ anyone?) but he is solid. We have selected charismatic leaders time and time again and it has not worked to our benefit as a nation. Let me state clearly that I am a firm believer in people trained by Edward Seaga. Roll your eyes all you want and grunt deep into your throat but Seaga is the real deal when it comes to ideas and deliverables for building a strong nation. Holness has that same hunger for doing well, he also has that steadfast need to plan and think which is why he seems boring and Jamaica needs that now.

My beautiful island needs leadership that thinks wider than winning an election and deeper than campaign strategy. How do I know that Holness has the depth to get the job done? I have known him for years and I have listened to his ideas and have watched his brain churn through the movement in his eyes. I have sat in Standing Committee meetings of the JLP with him and watch him sit quietly by himself while the rest of us argue over what now seems irrelevant. He is not only in charge of his emotions but he is always thinking and never unwilling to help to find a way to build consensus. He doesn’t seem to get excited by excitement which is good and bad but is a trait needed at the moment in Jamaica’s path to development.

My criticism of Holness at this time lies squarely in the fact that he has never made an effort to be loved. While a charismatic leader is not what I seek, it would still be nice to have a little warmth. For me Andrew needs to show that he has the depth of Edward Seaga, the logic of Bruce Golding, the political savvy of PJ Patterson, the heart of Michael Manley and nothing of Portia Simpson Miller. In addition he needs to build a team around him – a team that extends to his mayors, not only to his members of parliament and senators. He needs to reform local government and lift the standard of representation where mayors actually run their cities by international standards and not like patty shops.

In this same breath I say to the many Jamaicans who love to criticize but have nothing substantive to offer: take a stand, find a way to contribute and to build our nation or shut the hell up. Join a civic group, run for public office, join a campaign team, host a talk show, create a business, write an article or do something to show you can do more than criticize. Make your space that much better.

Until next time…….walk good.