Current Affairs

Current Affairs





Golding is back

By Vernon Daley, Staff Reporter
Jamaica Gleaner
Thursday, September 26, 2002


BRUCE GOLDING yesterday walked back into the fold of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), seven years after he resigned citing the party's reluctance to embrace fundamental political and constitutional reforms.

The JLP's Belmont Road headquarters, New Kingston, was the scene of frantic activity yesterday after news broke that Mr. Golding was on his way back to the party, following an agreement that would see much of his reform proposals being taken on board.

Party supporters and officers welcomed the move, saying it was what was needed to put zing back into the party's sagging election campaign.

"I think we have made a major breakthrough in getting some agreement on some major issues," Mr. Golding told The Gleaner yesterday after confirming his re-entry into the party.

At a campaign strategy meeting at Belmont Road, JLP Leader Edward Seaga told the party's candidates about the agreement, which hinge on seven main points.

Among the most critical of these is a commitment by the JLP to re-examine its position on adopting a US-style presidential model of Government, which Mr. Golding has advocated. A refusal by the party to embrace the presidential system was one of the major points of contention between Mr. Golding and the JLP and was largely responsible for his departure in the mid-1990s.

The party has agreed to this being


one of the options that would be placed before Jamaicans in a referendum, if it comes to power.

In a brief interview, Mr. Golding disclosed that he would be "hitting the road" with the intention of drumming up support for the JLP, which has been losing ground to the governing People's National Party (PNP) in recent political polls.

"What I need to do is to push this as a new thrust, as a new agenda to push this country forward," said the former JLP chairman.

Once seen as the likely successor to Mr. Seaga, Mr. Golding left the JLP in 1995 after a bitter public quarrel with his former mentor. He formed the National Democratic Movement (NDM), which railed against the country's old style, divisive politics and advocated reforming the Constitution along the US presidential model of Government.

Last year, Mr. Golding stepped down as president of the struggling third party after it failed to make a strong showing in the March 2001 St. Ann North East by-election, which the JLP won.

Mr. Golding now hosts a radio talk show programme. However, over the last few days there has been intense speculation that he was on his way back to the JLP to help shore up its fortunes, going into the October 16 election.

Last night, Mr. Golding dismissed suggestions that he had betrayed the NDM's cause and that he now faced a daunting task in defending his credibility in the public arena.

"If someone looks at the principles that have been agreed and all that I've been saying with persistence over the last seven years, then they will see it as a different approach to achieve the changes that are necessary to Jamaica," he said.

He added that his decision to return to the JLP should be seen as an attempt at advancing the NDM's principles through a channel that is likely to yield faster results.

As part of the pact announced yesterday, the JLP has also agreed to develop initiatives to deal with tribal politics; strengthen provisions for dealing with corruption, through the establishment of a Special Prosecutor; and make special provisions to have a portion of the national budget set aside to be divided equally among constituencies.

Also included in the agreement is a commitment by the JLP to look again on its positions on term limits for leaders and a fixed election date; implement parliamentary reforms to have key committees chaired by Opposition members; as well as amend parliamentary procedures to have the Opposition Leader make statements as Ministers of Government now do.

His odyssey

1972: He defeated Prince Golding in the Western St. Catherine constituency running for the JLP.

1976: Was defeated by the PNP's Ruddy Lawson in South Western St. Catherine.

1979-1984: Member of the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC).

1980: Did not contest the general election.

1983: Won in St. Catherine South in an election not
contested by the PNP.

1984: Became chairman of the JLP.

1989: Won the Central St. Catherine seat, beating the PNP's Vincent Edwards.

1993: Won the Central St. Catherine seat, beating the PNP's Clinton Davy.

1995: Resigned as JLP spokesman on finance and from the party. In October, he announced the formation of a third party launched as the National Democratic Movement (NDM) on Nov. 1.

1996: He became President of the NDM.

1997: He lost the Central St. Catherine constituency on the NDM's ticket to JLP's Olivia 'Babsy' Grange.

2001: Resigned as president of the NDM.