The hyperbolic nonsense surrounding the Prime Minister’s critique of the late Michael Manley’s tenure is as silly as his decision on the need to respond or clarify that he, in fact, loved Michael Manley.
As a citizen of Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness did not surrender his God-given right to speak his mind.
As a member and leader of the party that competes against the late Michael Manley’s PNP, had Andrew Holness not critiqued Michael’s tenure, it would have been professional abdication.
With that nonsense set to the side, it is time that as Jamaicans we learn that the art of politics is not a zero sum game. We can love the late Michael Manley while at the same time disagree with his politics.
Conversely, we can love Andrew Holness and not be happy with his politics either.
Additionally, we can like some policies and hate others, on either side of the political divide.
I struggle to understand why the mad rush to balkanize, to be polarized further, to place ourselves into restrictive little boxes?
Are we most comfortable when we are sequestered into convenient little boxes, if so, we are stifling ourselves, restricting our individual and collective growth.
The sad irony is that all politics is local in Jamaica, the size of the country makes it so, 4411 square miles all told, and under three million people, it is a hop skip and a jump.
As such, we need to close the gaps not seek to create chasms. Growing up in a JLP home, I hated the policies of the PNP, but nothing made me prouder, as a high schooler, than to have seen my Prime Minister, Michael Manley stand on the world stage, and speak as only he could, against the ignoble evils of apartheid in South Africa.
I still feel chills through my body at the pride I felt when Michael Manley went around the world as the leader of our tiny nation, and a leader of the non-aligned nations, larger than life, and demonstrated to the world what humanity ought to look like.
Yet I hated Manley’s Democratic socialism, I hated what he did to our local economy, I hated his politics of division that resulted in hatred, fear, and anxiety.
I hate it still.
Growing up in a conservative Christian home, we were taught the value of God, family, and country. We learned the value of education, hard work. The idea was not to expect anyone to give anything to me because I was owed nothing.
I took that to heart, as a consequence, I worked to school myself from as young as sixteen years old.
That is what particularly drew me to the policies of the JLP which was a market-driven ideology which was heavily geared at infrastructural development as was evidenced by the massive school building program undertaken by the Hugh Lawson Shearer’s administration that preceded Michael Manley’s tenure in the early 1970s.
In retrospect, Hugh Lawson Shearer’s tenure at the helm of the Jamaican executive, still stands as the most prosperous period in Jamaica’s post-independence history.
That period of peace and prosperity did not happen in a vacuum, it was a direct result of the massive construction Shearer embarked on that provided jobs to Jamaican workers of both political parties.
In addition to that, Aluminum export was at an all-time high and the low crime levels attracted increased tourist arrivals.
Yup.….built by labor.
Both Manley and Shearer are now long gone, the PNP still struggles to be the party of the ’70s that Michael Manley led. No one has bothered to tell them that the idea of socialism as a successful ideological construct has long died.
Even the Chinese and the Russians have moved on, adopting varying forms of market economics that have raised their standards of living, and in many cases, created untold wealth for those within their societies savvy enough to take advantage of the changing times.
The JLP for its part, is not the party that the Rt honorable Hugh Lawson Shearer led.
Laborites can talk all they want about prosperity, but the undeniable truth as it relates to the JLP, as it has been for the PNP, is that both political parties are infested with thieves and crooks who should be in prison.
Andrew Holness pledged that there would be no tolerance for corruption and theft when he took office, sadly, the JLP is no different than the PNP as it has reneged on its promise, to be honest, and transparent.
On that score, both political parties have been abject failures.
Mike Beckles is a former police Detective corporal, businessman, freelance writer,
he is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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