Horne seems to have lost his principled positionThursday, December 10, 2020
The recent impasse between Norma Horne and Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding over the Senate appointment is shocking and a reflection of the hypocrisy in our political leadership.
It is the duty of the prime minister and, in this case, the leader of the Opposition to appoint to the Senate only talented and principled people in whom they repose sufficient confidence. The clear mandate Mark Golding was given in the recent party leadership election should have been sufficient reason for members of the Senate, particularly those who opposed Golding's leadership bid, to offer their resignations. This is the principled position to take.
This principled approach appeared to have been the approach taken by Horne when he declared in October 2020, prior to the People's National Party (PNP) presidential elections, and mere weeks after being appointed to the Senate, that he would advise the governor general that he would not take up the appointment because of the impending internal leadership change. According to Horne, the new Opposition leader should have a free hand to appoint his slate of senators.
Horne, only mere weeks later, appears to have already forgotten his own position.
On another point of reasoning, it may appear from Horne's own utterances and statement that he has not actually forgotten his position. Rather, Horne has purposely taken an unprincipled position to serve his own self-interests at the expense of the PNP, and more importantly the nation.
Horne's new position smacks of immorality and hypocrisy. That much is clear in his rambling press release touching on issues of debts owed to him by the PNP and his statement that: “While a Machiavellian masterstroke with 'serendipitous political outcome(s)' may be the order of the day in response to anyone who is not perceived to be in support of the leadership, those of us who are independent and cannot be bought, bossed or bullied must take a stand on behalf of the broader membership of the People's National Party in the interest of the Movement.
“Comrade Golding, as the president of the party, has not made any attempt to inspire the confidence of persons who did not support him in the recent leadership race. In the weeks following, he and his team have been more focused on crushing perceived enemies.
“Instead, he [Golding] should be encouraged to be collaborative and considerate of all members, not just those who supported him. The true opposition to any political party is not within. The status quo of the PNP has resulted in the mixed feelings that I am having regarding my resignation from the Senate.”
What is clear, despite Horne's protestations to the contrary, is that there exists some dispute over debts owed to him by the PNP. But he would lose his righteous standing if he is really even discussing debts owed to him in the context of a Senate appointment — an issue which touches and concerns the functioning of the nation's democratic processes.
Horne's press release is an inadvertent confession of his own selfish agenda and a betrayal of his own previous position. Even if he is of the view that Golding “as the president of the party, has not made any attempt to inspire the confidence of persons who did not support him in the recent leadership race” that does not allow him to act in an entirely hypocritical and immoral way, particularly when at stake is a constitutional appointment necessary to the functioning of the State's democratic processes.
In essence, Horne is using his senatorial appointment as leverage to force Golding to act in a manner consistent with his wishes. Those wishes being diametrically opposed to his own stated view that a new Opposition leader should have a free hand to appoint his slate of senators.
Horne's actions are even worse if it is true that he does in fact hold United States citizenship. He would, as he is fully aware, be constitutionally barred from holding a Senate position. The leader of the Opposition and the governor general should, in keeping with their own duty to uphold the Constitution of Jamaica, act by withdrawing Horne's appointment and bring this matter to an immediate end. For either of them to continue to fail to act would be a dereliction of their own constitutional duties.
Whilst it is Horne's democratic right to challenge Golding's leadership and leadership style, he — as an experienced politician and businessman — must know that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Unfortunately for Horne, one of those ways is not the hypocritical, immoral and unprincipled use of a constitutional appointment.
It is long past the time that Jamaica should have politicians who act on ideals and principles and not on their own whims and fancies. Political office is a vehicle for service and nation-building, not a tool to advance personal agendas as Horne is now attempting to do.
Jalil S Dabdoub is an attorney-at-law. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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