No love lost this Valentine's Day

Columns

No love lost this Valentine's Day

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, February 14, 2020

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The season of lovey-dovey is upon us. As you read this the streets are filled with vendors hoping to “eat a food” from the sale of items in the customary red and white. Artificial and real roses, teddy bears, gift baskets, and inches of lace masquerading as undergarments will be on offer for lovers to give and receive.

Valentine, will you be mine? Oh, my sweetheart, we will never part.

Promises of everlasting love didn't stand up to the test earlier this week in political circles. Outspoken local government politician, Councillor Kari Douglas called it quits on the relationship with her one-time love, the People's National Party (PNP). She crossed the floor of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation seeking affection from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Her 'break-up' letter, which was circulated on social media, revealed that she didn't feel the PNP had been an attentive partner, and it seemed to her that the JLP and their young, charismatic leader would be more accommodating and supportive to her ideas.

Responses to the 'divorce' were varied: “Yes, girl, seek prosperity in greener pastures,” or “With or without you, we still firm.” Much was said about how her father, the late Easton Douglas, a former Member of Parliament and stalwart of the PNP, would have reacted to the news.

Some Labourites saw the move as a coup and a definite sign that the PNP is still suffering from internal wranglings. The leader of minority business in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) shrugged off Douglas's move, stating they've already identified a replacement for her seat representing the Trafalgar Division. They're moving on.

Question to be asked: Is there room for diehard partisanship in politics anymore? Should political representatives or supporters hold fast to their side, no matter what?

In a discussion with two veranda-based political commentators, one said: “If you want things to change you have to stay and fight.”

The other responded: “But if you trying to make a change and nobody budging, do you stay and be miserable, or leave and look for another opportunity?”

Our political parties are not unfamiliar with switch-ups and turnarounds. There is quite a list of politicians at all levels who have changed their allegiance over the years. Some have flourished in their new home, while others have disappeared into the background and become a footnote in political history.

“The days of 'We will follow Bustamante till we die' not happening again, Mrs G.”

The veranda contingent carried on the discussion.

“Young people are willing to pull up roots and move… and don't forget Bustamante himself left the PNP to form the JLP. This thing going on long time.”

My other armchair consultant chimed in, “Nobody ever said politics was easy. If you waan good, nose haffi run, and if you waan roas' corn, finger haffi bun!”

Whatever the public thinks, the choice was hers to make, and only time will reveal if her political star will shine or be dimmed.

No love for Jamaican criminals in the UK

The UK Government held fast to their intentions, and this week deported a number of Jamaicans who had been living there. Reports have revealed that those who have been sent back are hardened criminals who had completed their sentences. Many had begun rebuilding their lives having “paid their debt to society”, as they say.

What message does that send about rehabilitation or forgiveness? Is there such a thing in the justice system? It didn't matter. The UK Home Office loaded them on a plane and sent them back to JA.

Of course, the UK Government has the right to decide who they keep in their country, even as the question is being asked as to who is considered to be a British citizen? Does it matter that you were born there? Does it matter that your parents and grandparents were once members of the Empire, lustily singing God Save our Gracious Queen?

I thought about how the families left behind are feeling on this Valentine's Day as their loved ones have been taken from them. Some of those returned will be fortunate enough to have family and friends here waiting and willing to support them and help them to reintegrate, but it must be a frightening and worrisome prospect to be starting over in a country that many have not seen since they were small children.

I was deeply concerned about the actions of a young man who it is reported to have tried to commit suicide rather than face the forceful exit from the UK. What could have led him to take such drastic action? Yes, it's true, Jamaica is not an easy place, we have more than enough challenges and difficulties to face. I still believe that we have good in us, and among us, and that there is warmth and generosity and kindness here.

Valentine's Day is usually for lovers, but maybe we can spread more love to our neighbours and communities. Let us support those who need a helping hand or a chance to move forward. Who knows, maybe good vibes and positivity can spread faster than coronavirus this Valentine's Day.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.


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