Well said, Mr Holness

Friday, May 03, 2013

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OVER the last two general election campaigns this newspaper strongly advocated a change in our politics. We had become disillusioned with the circus that was being passed off for political discourse and had also grown disgusted with the penchant of some of our politicians to descend into personal attacks on their opponents, instead of debating issues.

To be fair, we saw in the 2011 election campaign a greater attempt from both the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to engage the electorate in meaningful discussion, even though remnants of the hostile rhetoric of the past still came to the fore from time to time.

Who, for instance, could forget that distasteful television tracing advertisement featuring Mrs Portia Simpson Miller which, we maintain, was correctly suspended by the RJR Group?

As we said in this space at that time, the JLP crew who created that ad seemed to have believed that pandering to the lowest common denominator was acceptable.

That kind of campaign activity, we hold, serves only to solidify the ugly tribal divisions that have characterised our politics. And while the people who engage in this kind of nasty, hurtful campaigning may feel some sense of fulfilment if their party is voted into office, they cannot lose sight of the fact that their actions damage Jamaica in the long run.

It is against that background that we welcome Opposition Leader Andrew Holness' position that the JLP, under his leadership, will not adhere to the conventional view that the role of the Opposition is to oppose and be cantankerous.

"That will not help Jamaica out of the difficulties that we have found ourselves in," Mr Holness told Jamaica Observer editors and senior reporters on Monday.

"Jamaicans," Mr Holness added, "are coming to the understanding that where we are now in our history is that we need leadership, not just leadership in Government, but leadership in the Opposition, as well, if we are going to change our country for the better."

We couldn't agree with him more.

Given the nature of politics, we expect that Mr Holness will encounter some level of resistance in his party, particularly from individuals who mistakenly believe that the only way to defeat their political opponents is to oppose every policy and create social disorder.

However, we encourage him to stay the course, because his position is just, and will redound to the benefit of his party and the country, as Jamaicans will see the value in his stated commitment to oversight, advocacy and public education.

In fact, as Mr Holness so correctly stated, leaders who know better and who want change will have to take the risk of engaging their supporters and bringing them to an understanding that there is another path that will lead Jamaica to its destiny much more quickly.




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