On Saturday morning, news came in that Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson had died of Pancreatic Cancer. Mr. Thompson’s death was by no means sudden or unexpected, coming as it did after a mildly public battle with the disease, but for his family; friends; constituents and the people of Barbados, no less painful! Yet whilst our condolences go out to the collective people of Barbados we must also congratulate them on achieving a smooth and militarily precise handover/change of administration within hours of the announcement. Indeed by mid-afternoon a new Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, had already been sworn in and it is expected that by 3:00 PM on Sunday same will be conducted for the entire Cabinet. In effect, by Monday morning Bajans will go to work with a new administration in place without any rancor or fireworks.
Whilst Jamaica and Jamaicans are no strangers to smooth handovers of power, the Bajan example holds valuable lessons to us as we discuss the impending and possible departure of the “Driva”. We here at Pink hold no official position on whether the Honourable Orette Bruce Golding should leave and the best manner in which that may occur. However, it is painfully obvious that the Office of the Prime Minister and the person holder has been relatively quiet and seemingly ill at ease over the past 2 months. Within this context, the inevitable speculation and behind the scenes jockeying for power has begun to occur with some amount of stage appearances.
Should, the Prime Minister demit office prior to the calling of fresh elections, the constitution of Jamaica provides that the question of who will inherit the office is left up to the 60 Members of Parliament sitting in Gordon House. With no history of bi-partisanship on such delicate matters, this matter would be a strictly labourite issue to solve. The good news is that the smooth transition of power from Bustamante to Sangster and thence to Shearer all during one electoral term in the 1960s signifies that the Jamaica Labour Party is more than equal to the task, should the question be put to them. Regrettably recent history during the Seaga years may make some political historians sweat about the current membership’s capacity to undertake such a task, but even then the labourites did manage a smooth transition from Seaga to Baugh to Golding!
Yet as the nation discusses who among the Labourite benches may become the nation’s ninth Prime Minister (should the eight depart), one name has begun to crop up
and that is Audley Shaw! Support in the media has been growing for him owing to the fact that he has punched above his weight at the Finance Ministry and has managed to keep the macro-economic fundamentals in check. Ironically, it is because of his laudable work that we here at PINK believe the Finance Minister should remain at Heroes Circle. We want no repeat of the Seaga years when he (Seaga) was both Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Furthermore, whilst the financial markets have been relatively stable the balance is still clearly delicate and he needs to remain to steer the country through this recession. Let us not forget that this administration has presided over the longest economic contraction in independent Jamaica’s economic history (through no fault of their own or the previous administration for that matter).
In this connection, we propose the Baugh solution, that is elevate the Deputy Prime Minister to Prime Minister of a caretaker administration should the current Prime Minister resign. In our estimation Baugh does have the right temperament for the job within the context that one would be inheriting the post. The further benefit of this is that because Baugh clearly has no real appetite for the Prime Minister job he would be able to insulate the country from what may become a bruising internal battle within the Jamaica Labour Party for the post of party leader.