Holness should have 'run with' Thwaites' tax stance
One has to admire American politics. Recently, 21 members of the US Democratic Party crossed the floor of Congress to vote with Republicans to hold their own attorney general, Eric Holder, in criminal contempt of Congress.
Around the same time Opposition leader Andrew Holness, at a press conference, was calling for the resignation of Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites, citing the PNP MP's "untenable membership" in the Cabinet after Thwaites' public disapproval of the government's decision to tax certain basic food items.
Mr Holness's case is that if one is a member of a Cabinet and a decision is to be taken and the member thinks the principle is flawed, then that member should resign. This is according to the Westminster system of government.
In the US Federal system of government, members of Congress are answerable to the electorate and congressional representatives vote, not inevitably along party lines, but mainly according to the dictates of the constituency. On the contrary, the Westminster system, which we are looking to replace, mandates the political representative to cast votes along party lines without regard to the wishes of their constituents.
In good conscience, a representative of the people, an MP, should feel uncomfortable when his own government levies a great tax burden on the people. Mr Thwaites should have the right to disagree with his government without being duty-bound to rubber-stamp a burdensome tax package.
One would have hoped that the Leader of the Opposition would have seized on Mr Thwaites' disapproval to fuel a call for a rollback of the oppressive tax imposed by the government. Mr Holness dropped the ball which, to some in America, was carried loftily by those Democrats who crossed the floor of the US Congress.