Diversions abound

Michael BURKE

Thursday, January 30, 2014    

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DIVERSIONARY tactics are often used in politics. Everald Warmington, the Jamaica Labour Party member of parliament for South-West St Catherine, is guilty of boorish behaviour again. He said that if residents of his constituency do not vote they will receive no help from him. Some are trying to divert the discussion to the idea of compulsory voting, which exists in some countries, including Australia. But I will not change the subject.

Everald Warmington has made such outbursts for at least 33 years. After the JLP landslide in the elections of October 30, 1980, Warmington made a somewhat similar statement, and then Prime Minister Edward Seaga apologised for his behaviour at the swearing-in ceremony of the new parliamentarians on November 18, 1980. But in 1980, as in 2014, there was no apology from Warmington.

Have you noticed that the People's National Party has not said anything about this latest furore involving Warmington? I suspect it is because they also have been guilty of giving jobs to their own supporters after elections. Unfortunately, it is part of the "spoils" system in many democratic countries. But it is only that Warmington is very crude and arrogant in the way he says things and is able to get away with it.

True, Warmington was speaking to people in his own political party. Nevertheless, this sort of thing should stop. And, instead of diverting the discussion to compulsory voting, why not divert it toward the need for proportional representation? This would stop the need for garrison constituencies where the MPs pack their constituencies with supporters and keep them happy with jobs so that their party can win a majority of seats.

Card-carrying old boy

In recent times, Jamaica College has been the model school in terms of the appearance of the physical plant and facilities available to teachers and students. In addition, the principal Senator Ruel Reid has the enviable reputation of turning around a school; where the behaviour had been less than satisfactory to one where the discipline of the students, in general, is way above average. Let me declare myself, I am a Jamaica College past student.

Reid's detractors have attempted to qualify his seeming success. It has been said that someone has been secretly diverting many GSAT students whose first preference is other schools like Ardenne, Campion, and Meadowbrook to Jamaica College. If this is being done, then it would bring students with the sort of social background where good behaviour and proper attitude to education is inculcated from home. And many would argue that there is nothing wrong with such a plan if it turns JC into a better school. I do not know if this is in fact being done, and if so, by whom. But JC has in fact changed for the better.

What I know to be true, however, is that in recent times many of the sixth-formers did their first- to fifth-form years elsewhere and transferred to JC's sixth form. Add to that the JC Foundation, chaired by R Danny Williams, himself a former PNP minister in the 1970s, which has solicited hundreds of millions of dollars and the JC physical plant now boasts the best facilities in Jamaica.

At the same time, Senator Reid was previously special advisor to former Education Minister Andrew Holness, later prime minister and now leader of the Opposition. In the last two months or so Ruel Reid was appointed to the Senate on the advice of the Opposition leader. Is Ruel Reid one of the legs of the Andrew Holness election campaign table? If so, there is nothing wrong with that. Such is the game of politics.

So what about this latest survey about JC featuring as one of the schools that produces criminals? First of all, schools do not create criminals; communities do. Were the 894 prisoners really chosen by random sample or were they carefully selected to get a pre-determined result? If Ruel Reid is a leg of the Holness election campaign table, is this an attempt to discredit Reid so that the campaign table falls?

And if this is so, who is trying to discredit him? Is it the PNP or persons from the block of 2,000 JLP delegates who did not support Holness in the leadership challenge by Audley Shaw last November? I am unable to tell. But I believe that it is nothing but a diversionary tactic on someone's part to gain political mileage. My greatest concern is that JC seems to be a pawn in a political game.

Fees fuss

Last week I wrote in my piece that there need not be a review of the transaction fees in the credit unions because they have their own democracy to deal with that.

So LZR commented on Jamaica Observer online that "this man has been writing about credit unions so long and yet he has failed to truly differentiate them from the banks. The banks have changed with the times, but the only thing the credit unions have changed is the high interest rates."

Has LZR read every single thing I have written about credit unions for the last 25 years?

In the October 2007 edition of Jamaica Business Magazine -- the one with Bruce Golding's photograph on the cover -- the credit union league General Manager Glen Francis pointed out that the members are the owners of the credit unions. Did LZR ever go to a general meeting to vote on any issue? Glen Francis in the same article stated "credit unions take from the many and lend to the many", while banks "take from the many and lend to the privileged few". I totally concur with this.

Is LZR using diversionary tactics to get people to join the banks rather than credit unions? Or is LZR a credit union director who would want to turn the discussion away from the idea of credit union democracy, lest the members attend in great numbers and vote some directors out of office? There is such a thing as credit union politics, and this could also be political diversion. Indeed, we are now so infested with political diversions that it could be termed as 'political diverticulitis'.






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