Stand Firm Bruce, or Tek Weh Yuh Self!

BRUCE GOLDING, right now, must feel like a man who fell off a high building, and after plummeting downwards to seemingly certain doom, somehow finds he has landed on his feet unhurt. For the slings and arrows of the Manatt affair and the gut-wrenching upheavals of the Tivoli invasion are now paling beside the sharp drop in murders over the past three weeks or so.

Is that All, Bruce?

The higher they climb, the harder they fall. No other Jamaican politician has so sanctimoniously disparaged opponents as Bruce Golding in his 1995-2000 National Democratic Movement (NDM) dispensation. He accused both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People's National Party (PNP) of practising old-time dirty politics and being irredeemably steeped in violence and corruption. Get rid of these dinosaurs and vote him into office, he urged, and his government would be a shining example of transparency and accountability that people could truly trust.

Great Budget, Lousy Crime Fighting

To those who even half believed their promise of a new approach to governance, this Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government has been a terrible disappointment. The Labour election manifesto turned out to be not worth the paper it was written on. As many charged in 2007, it's now sadly apparent that when it comes to Jamaican politics, there is truly no better herring and no better barrel.

A Weak Hand Poorly Played

In domino terms, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has drawn an economic hand with six doubles, meaning he has very few options on how to play his cards. After all, Jamaica entered the global financial crisis with a net government deficit of 113 per cent, the fourth highest in the world, leading Forbes magazine to list it as one of the world's ten hardest hit economies - and this was before bauxite collapsed and remittances plunged.

Fighting a Losing Battle?

When Bruce Golding was National Democratic Movement (NDM) leader, he pledged to eliminate garrisons. Put him in power, and he would end the pernicious system that loads constituencies with party die-hards who violently intimidate opponents. Golding is now prime minister and, since the People's National Party (PNP) outnumbers the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in "hardcore" garrisons by about six to three, he has every incentive to follow through on his words. But his 'No more tribal politics!' promise seems to have been completely forgotten.

But then most Jamaicans, even educated ones who should know better, seem to have a problem with garrisons only when it involves the other side. Patient no care, doctor no care.

Better Late than Never

Danville Walker, Greg Christie, Paula Llewellyn and Les Green are making Jamaicans more hopeful about our body politic than we've been in a long time. All have demonstrated an unbiased willingness to say it like it is, and to act as they see fit, regardless of whose feathers they ruffle. So there's a wary optimism in many hearts that maybe, just maybe, the system is starting to work for the tax-paying public, and not to protect privileged insiders.

Should we add Bruce Golding to this list? His no-holds-barred exposure of the disgraceful contract under which former Bank of Jamaica governor, Derick Latibeaudiere was employed has won much favour with the public. Too often we've been left on the outside looking in, as our tax dollars are lavishly doled out without our knowledge, much less consent.

A Fighting Knock on a Sticky Wicket

IF JAMAICAN politics was a cricket match, the state of play report might read something like this.

"Put into bat on a sticky wicket, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government reached 220 for six, thanks mainly to an unbeaten captain's knock of 85 from Bruce Golding. With the ball swinging and spinning on a pitch of uneven bounce, the JLP lost the early wickets of Derrick Smith, Trevor MacMillan and Clive Mullings.

"But with decent support from Ed Bartlett, and a good half century by Andrew Holness, skipper Golding shepherded his side to a reasonable total, which may be larger than it seems on a tricky track. The JLP was aided immensely by the PNP's amateur field setting and proliferation of wides and no balls. Yet, with the fragile Labourite batting line up so over-dependent on its leader, the match remains very much in the balance."

Political Déjà Vu in Rverse

Given the worldwide economic crisis and the Jamaican fallout of drastically shrinking remittances and bauxite collapsing to almost nothing, elections are the last thing on people's minds right now. So the general reaction to last week's North East St Catherine by-election was "Stewps. Me too busy trying to pay my bills to worry 'bout that foolishness!"

Disrespecting Shearer, Forgetting History

When the $1,000 bill with Michael Manley's portrait was put into circulation, no one objected. So why the protests about putting Hugh Shearer on the new $5,000 note? He is just as worthy as Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley, Donald Sangster, and Michael Manley. To argue otherwise is ignorant disrespect of a great Jamaican.

A First-Rate Budget Debate

Well done, Bruce, Portia, Audley and Omar. You have collectively given Jamaica its best Budget debate in living memory. A tone of friendly cooperation was maintained from start to finish, and there was lots of substance to go with the style. Navigating the world financial crisis without fatal damage will require inspired leadership and, so far, our politicians have risen to the task.