Good start by the new opposition leader

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Politicians rarely accept election defeat easily. In fact, we have seen in Jamaica instances in which losing candidates have cried foul, making allegations of bogus voting, faulty electoral machinery or other perceived discrepancies.

However, despite the myriad complaints, political leaders have generally accepted the results of our elections, recognising that those results by and large represent the wishes of the public.

Unfortunately, we saw a sad departure from that in September 2007 when Mrs Portia Simpson Miller refused to acknowledge that the People's National Party (PNP) had lost the general election to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Thankfully, Mrs Simpson Miller appears to have matured politically since her "it ain't over" declaration on election night four years ago which sent the wrong signal to the country and the international community.

It is against that background that we commend Mr Andrew Holness, albeit belatedly, for conceding the December 29, 2011 election as soon as it became clear that the JLP had lost, and for his commitment last week that the Opposition will not become the Government's "nightmare".

Based on his pronouncements last Friday, Mr Holness appears to have a clear idea of the role of the Opposition and what it needs to accomplish to regain enough public trust for the electorate to give the JLP the privilege of again serving as the Government.

For it was the erosion of that trust that largely influenced Jamaicans to throw the JLP out of office last month, even as the electorate made it clear — by 48 per cent abstention — that neither party enjoys tremendous public confidence.

That, of course, is a dilemma that both parties, and indeed the entire country, need to address if we intend for our democracy to thrive and work in the best interest of all Jamaicans.

We will hold Mr Holness to his word that the Opposition will be "working steadily to achieve the Jamaican dream that we all want to achieve" and that it will "not oppose for opposing sake", because it is critical that Government and Opposition work together to tackle the difficulties now facing the country.

In fact, that kind of collaborative approach to governance is even more vital now as Jamaica seeks to stay afloat in a global environment that clearly has not seen the tail of the tempest that has damaged so many economies.

In that regard, we expect that the Opposition will be vibrant and cerebral in its contributions to debates on issues in the Parliament, and that it will not keep close to its chest policies that it believes will make better alternatives to those proposed and implemented by the Government.

It should be the intention that the beneficiary of good policies must be Jamaica first, ahead of the political parties.

We hope, too, that the humility now being demonstrated by Mr Holness and his party will not ebb if or when they are given another mandate because, as Mr Holness quite correctly put it, "the people are the ultimate force and ultimate power to reckon with".

That is something that all politicians should bear in mind, at all times, before they speak and act.




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