This is Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke's longest run in the press and I don't see it ending any time soon.
I believe his handling of the Usain Bolt fraud saga is impressive. His intervention and leadership, especially for security guards, is impressive. I believe in the upcoming public polls Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton is likely to be dethroned as the best-performing Cabinet minister for the first time post Andrew Holness as minister of education.
Historically, finance ministers are typically front-runners to lead their parties because they are in charge of the largest ministry and the finances of the country. Sir Donald Sangster, Edward Seaga, PJ Patterson, and Dr Peter Phillips were all finance ministers before leading their parties. Additionally, I believe being the Opposition's spokesperson on finance played a role in Mark Golding becoming the leader of his party.
The only finance ministers to lose bids to become party leaders are Dr Omar Davies in 2006 and Audley Shaw in 2013. And the circumstances surrounding the failure of these two to become party leaders are complex.
Dr Clarke is one year older than Prime Minister Holness; hence, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) could have an older leader post Holness. At the end of the day, age will be Dr Clarke's weakness, but he will have experience and accomplishment on his side. Many believed, based on his background, that Dr Clarke would not have given any attention to the plight of the common man or the working class, but he has managed to balance the attention given to the issues concerning the wealthy and the working class well.
I am not a "Nigelite" or a "Clarkist", but he's clearly building a coalition. I only see Floyd Green, Pearnel Charles Jr, and Dr Tufton as possible challenges to this coalition when Prime Minister Holness steps down after the 2025 General Election.
In 2020, Dr Horace Chang, the current deputy prime minister, said that election was going to be his last. But I believe he will be convinced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to do another term. If he does continue for another term, he will clearly be the deputy prime minister. However, Dr Clarke is the clear front-runner to be deputy prime minister if Dr Chang keeps his promise not to seek re-election. He could also be leader of government business in the House if not deputy prime minister.
Prime Minister Holness's boldest Cabinet move was appointing Dr Clarke minister of finance at the expense of the very experienced Audley Shaw. It is clear that he will be credited for Dr Clarke's political career.
Ocho Rios, St Ann
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