Andrew Holness accused of political pandering over Michael Manley comment?

Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (however way you choose to look at it) may have just opened a Pandora’s Box of conversation on Twitter this weekend as Jamaican users of the social media platform reacted to comments addressing his perceptions of late politician Michael Manley.

Holness, speaking at Thursday’s (July 9) launch of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Education Fund scholarships, claimed that the island was still ‘paying the price’ of former Prime Minister Manley’s misadventures.

In his best (read worst) political pandering to date, Holness opined that the “misadventure of the PNP diverted us from the path of economic growth, selling the people of Jamaica false hope and unrealistic dreams”.

He believed firmly that the then People’s National Party (PNP)-led administration, which lasted from 1972 to 1978, squandered the successes Jamaica made under the previous, post-Independence JLP government.

“We had a flirtation with ideologies that were foreign to us and did not serve us well. With all the social problems that needed to be addressed, had we stayed the economic course and ensured that our economy was aligned to the opportunities that were created by the industrial transformations that were taking place, Jamaica would be a better place today,” the JLP leader argued further.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking on Thursday. (Photo: Facebook @AndrewHolnessJM)

May I interject, Mr Holness?

In the height of so many of your officials being embroiled in corruption and/or abusing the power bestowed upon them, this rhetoric is disappointing, I must say.

Yes, Jamaica was primed for many great things and by many accounts, we should have progressed much further in the space of time. Even Singapore and South Korea, countries that were deemed ‘worse off’ than us at the time, have grown exponentially, leaving us behind, but our island’s stagnation is due to many extenuating circumstances.

Horrific and brutal political warfare swept this sun-kissed country, and each time, set us further back. This attempt to change the narrative or downplay the JLP’s involvement in Jamaica’s destabilisation is low, even for you.

Michael Manley, after whom you’ve professed to be named, exited the scene long ago.

For all his faults and misgivings, Manley arguably oversaw the widest transformation of Jamaica’s economic and infrastructural development. Objectively, more women and working-class citizens had their standards of living raised under his tenure.

It has rested with subsequent Governments, elected by the people and who swore to work in our collective interest, to take responsibility for not moving the country along. This is where many of your peers, current and retired, have been found woefully short and wanting.

Former Prime Minister Michael Manley (Photo: National Library of Jamaica)

This is politics after all, and while it is all well and fine to blame a predecessor for a perceived faulty vision, it would be wiser to be careful with the current resources and assets at your disposal.

Jamaica is a special place, as time and time again, we have shown that we can make a turnaround.

May I suggest forgetting (or rather forgiving) the past? Accept it as a lesson learned, make a vow to never repeat our history and cast your own, personal vision to enable Jamaica to accomplish great things.

It’s truly what the island and her people deserve.