Disgracing our National Heroes
I was a skinny little boy of 12 in 1962 when the British Union Jack was lowered and the Black, Green and Gold of the Jamaican flag was raised for the first time.
As much as many of us knew little about the mechanics of the way going forward, there was however a flowing spring of hope, something around us and in us that was forever telling us that we were going to be better, much better than we were.
Along the way we allowed men called politicians (who had strayed from the initial objectives of our founding fathers) to encroach upon our minds, steal the worst that we had in us, add it to their own playbooks for personal power and years later when the whole was brought to national prominence we had no idea if we were purely at fault or it was that we were a simple people honestly led astray by evil men.
Fifty years later our politicians have not yet risen above the level of spoiled children and those who have are constantly reminding us that the schoolyard bully is one to be adored.
At the founding of the PNP in 1938 Norman Manley said, "No amount of benevolent administration, no amount of contribution toward making a happy and contented people, will ever produce a nation unless you have a political organisation that shares and marches with the destiny of the nation as a whole."
Today the PNP is but a shadow of the lofty goal that the great man had for the party for the party he co-founded. Howard Cooke, one of the founding members who later became governor general of Jamaica summed up those times thus: "When I came to sit with other colleagues to plan the formation of the party I was greatly excited. Men like Nethersole, Jacobs, Walker, Seiveright, Ken Hill... they were excited too: for one reason, we were led by one of Jamaica's ablest men, Norman Manley... we all, when we got together, felt almost a missionary urge, we wanted to change things, we wanted to go out and tell people they could have a better life."
At the end of Norman Manley's political career and on the eve of his death in 1969 he told his political colleagues and the nation, "I say that the mission of my generation was to win self-government for Jamaica. To win political power which is the final power for the black masses of my country from which I spring. I am proud to stand here today and say to you who fought that fight with me, say it with gladness and pride: Mission accomplished for my generation.
"And what is the mission of this generation?... It is reconstructing the social and economic society and life of Jamaica".
Today in 2012, the year we "celebrate" our 50th anniversary of Independence, the PNP administration has, in one instance, desecrated the flag, and in the simple matter of drafting a song to celebrate that momentous occasion, finds that it is too big a task for their simple, underdeveloped, political minds.
Norman Manley is stirring in his grave as the present leader of the PNP makes her further retreat, spending more time travelling and seemingly avoiding facing up to a little matter called leadership.
Prior to what nearly ended up in a fist fight in the "hallowed halls of Parliament" the best we could get from the JLP leader, Andrew Holness, was his "stunning" call for Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites to resign because the minister was at odds with his party on the increase in the prices of certain basic foods because of the recent tax increases.
I hold no brief for Minister Thwaites who I believe should have long demitted political representation. In Andrew Holness attempting to press home a point, which has absolutely no possibility of gaining traction inside the PNP or on the national stage, he is singing to the deaf and the dumb, and that is probably an indication of the way forward for the hapless JLP.
The recent behaviour of parliamentarians in the House has certainly sent a signal to our people in year 50 that bad behaviour and the way of the thug are OK. The JLP's JC Hutchinson losing his head, the PNP's Raymond Price, a virginal newcomer, having the gall to tell a veteran MP to shut up and my poor ex-colleague columnist now MP, Lloyd B Smith, seemingly out of his depth in trying to bring calm among the whales and the minnows.
All of this publicly nasty behaviour in year 50!
The bright, articulate, beautiful Lisa Hanna, minister of culture, again seemingly out of her own depth in talking, explaining and explaining and unable to get anything right. Why was the original Mikey Bennett-produced song discarded and a Shaggy song put forward, if not for political reasons?
Neither of the two songs has reached that We are the world quality level, but the Bennett-produced song came closer to striking a national chord. Overall, in our politics, it is obvious that amateurs are in charge.
Paulwell next PNP leader?
In the absence of broad leadership in the PNP and the general annoyance known as the JLP, a reader wrote:
"Make no mistake about it, the JLP messed up LNG by hijacking what was essentially a private investment. Instead of striking while the iron was hot and LNG was $5, they dithered and thrashed about like a bunch of sensi fowls and now, post-Japan, gas is $14. Would anyone like to calculate what that has cost the country - in actual and opportunity costs? After loan payments, oil imports is the second biggest expenditure item that MOF has to pay for.
"Well, guess what, Phillip Paulwell is in the hot seat again and trust me, he's not about to mess up LNG. In fact, the PNP is not going to mess up LNG - not with superior intellectual capacity and political prowess. Unlike Bruce Golding, the PNP totally understands the huge potential impact of competitive energy rates on every single aspect of our national life - economic, social, political, you name it.
"If Paulwell does two things, his political future will be totally unassailable: (1) beating the itsy-bitsy savings targeted by the former LNG steering committee, and (2) pulling off a smooth, 'bungle-free' implementation.
"When that happens, Phillip Paulwell would have not one but two Mount Rushmore-size achievements under his belt: (1) delivering cheap phone rates to Jamaicans and (2) giving Jamaicans cheap electricity for the first time at last. He will be set to assume the next leadership of the PNP."
We are probably witnessing the worst political leadership that this country has ever had. And all this in our 50th year.
Is this what the people had voted for?