Generational Politics
Published: Sunday | November 14, 2010 



Kevin O'Brien Chang, Contributor

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Ecclesiastes 1:4

The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.

Charles de Gaulle

Whenever I want an honest and unbiased opinion about any political development, the first person I call is Mr D.S. Nikon. He has his nose to the ground, is very informed about local, Caribbean and international affairs, and always tells it as he sees it without any party perspective. He considers himself "an independent who leans [towards the] Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) currently" and says that "unlike some 'analysts' who are rabid for one side or the other, I can proudly say that I have actually voted for three different parties over the years".

The JLP is holding internal elections and heading into conference, hoping to salvage some pride and credibility after virtually cutting its own throat with the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips affair. Here is Nikon's take on where it should be going:

"There are many factors to be considered when one is going to vote. So I am dealing here with some changes I would like to see in what I call an overhaul of the JLP. These obviously could not all be done suddenly at one time, but would have to be carried out gradually.

"A new Area Council Four deputy leader in Chris Tufton. He is obviously a potential future party leader and should be groomed as such.

"A new general secretary in Aundré Franklin. Why Aundré and not Daryl, you might ask? Because I actually like the proposition I hear mooted that the general secretary should not be a member of parliament or a cabinet minister. I would actually like to see that written into both parties' constitution. How about no member of parliament can become a cabinet minister, ha! ha! ha! But, then again, that is wishful thinking.

"This might actually ruffle some feathers, but a leader has to do what a leader must do.

1. Name a new Deputy PM, either Chris Tufton or Andrew Holness. My choice would be Holness (and, based on polls, the general public agrees) and prepare him to take over the reins of leadership. The party should embrace these kinds of changes and the world is shifting towards that. If we want to engage people, especially young people, in the political process, they will want to see someone with whom they can identify at the leadership level. Just look at all the other countries who are trending to younger leaders - Barak Obama, Davis Cameron, etc.

2. Foreign Affairs: Keep Ken Baugh there if he remains interested. If not, I'd go with Delroy Chuck.

3. Finance and the Public Service: Audley Shaw. It was said that he could not do anything and could not even run a gas station, but I guess some of those people are now eating humble pie as he has held it together.

4. Education: The public clearly supports what Andrew Holness is doing.

5. Agriculture: Keep Chris Tufton as he seems to have energised that sector.

6. National Security: Dwight Nelson. Oh Lord, we do not need another change there, especially when we are getting a handle on the crime situation.

7. Justice and Attorney General: Ossie Harding. I think he can do much better than what Ms Lightbourne has been able to muster. Personally, I would like to see a separation of Justice Ministry and attorney general, with Ossie Harding being justice minister. For attorney general, I would pick a non-politician, so to speak, someone of the ilk of a Bert Samuels or someone similar.

8. Labour/Social Security/(Housing): I would join these to incorporate Labour issues, and stick with Pearnel Charles. As he genuinely seems to care about the plight of regular folks, even if in the present dispensation they are not able to effect some of the changes they would like. I'm not even sure we should have a housing ministry, since the National Housing Trust and other private firms are already providing housing solutions. From a socio-economic standpoint, anything the Government has to deal with in this respect borders on welfare.

9. Health: Again I would stick with Ruddy Spencer.

10. Youth/Sports and Culture: I would not change Ms Grange. I am not sure there is much to do here, and when something actually is done she has represented us well.

11. Transport/Works and Water: I would merge these ministries and keep Mike Henry in charge. One obvious benefit should be increased coordination and less just-fixed roads dug up by the water commission!

12. Industry and Investment: Daryl Vaz has done well at Information, but is known as a doer and what we need now are investments to create jobs, and given the right tools. He can achieve much.

13. Mining and Energy: James Robertson. Another potential leadership candidate, who has been quietly doing some things to try and get us to energy independence, so let him continue.

14. Information: Karl Samuda, or if he frowns on the change, young Warren Newby.

15. Tourism: Ed Bartlett, because he has held his own there.

"So, there is my wishful thinking for some possible changes for the Government and JLP. They do not need my advice, but I am giving some anyway. Another long-term change I would like to see, is that when a good project clearly in the country's interest is signed and started, it should be passed into law with, say, a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Then even if the current Government is unseated, the incoming administration cannot just abandon the project because 'is not my baby'. Look what happened with Coronation Market after 1989, or could conceivably happen to the JDIP programme, which clearly is in the country's long-term infrastructure interest."

Though controversial in some areas, Nikon's opinions are full of well thought out common sense. Certainly, based on recent poll findings, sticking with the current status quo would not seem to be a viable option for the labourites. But we shall see how matters unfold.

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