As the dust settles on the local government election, the nation has barely had any time to breathe as both major political parties have begun campaigning for a general election constitutionally due next year.

The campaign has so far thrown up nothing new — the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) harping on the People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) 18 ½ years in power, 1989-2006; the PNP blasting the JLP’s performance during the last 14 years, 2006-11 and 2016-present. Both parties have highlighted corruption in the other party, have spoken of publishing long-awaited FINSAC findings (note not the whole report), and have generally said that we are not as bad as the other.

To the average person, this noise is nothing to pay attention to, just two corrupt parties pointing out the beam in the eye of the other while ignoring the forest growing from their sockets. However, every once in a while, during the heat of the moment, truths are spoken, truths to questions which the public have long asked but which have not been raised in halls of power as they are uncomfortable to those in charge.

This time the task of inadvertent truth speaker fell to Mark Golding during budget presentation. Mr Golding correctly noted that the Government is currently mired in quite a few corruption scandals, some of which are yet to be made public. He also noted that the Prime Minister himself is under a cloud as his submissions to the Integrity Commission have not been signed off on.

In noting this, Mr Golding pointed out that the fact that the PM’s spouse, Mrs Juliet Holness, is the Speaker of the House of Representatives raises questions about transparency and accountability, an issue with the separation of powers.

This was immediately seized upon by the Government as a low blow, bad decorum, poor taste, et cetera. A walk out by the Government ensued, the proceeding was adjourned, and the Opposition leader continued his presentation outside the Parliament.

All very good entertainment, if we are being honest.

The most cogent opposition to what Mr Golding has said came from Clyde Williams and others like him who correctly pointed out that the PNP endorsed and voted for Mrs Holness to be both deputy speaker and then speaker after the resignation of Mrs Marisa Dalrympile Philibert. What the PNP has done, they say, is rank hypocrisy, politics, and needs an explanation.

I agree, it does require an explanation from them as to why now, but I honestly don’t care because it was a question many have raised, but we don’t have the power of the Opposition leader or the privilege which Parliament affords to say what we think.

Yes, the fact that Mark said it has tainted it, but is the question a wrong one? Is there a blurring of the lines, the potential and possibility of wrongdoing? Sure, what is going on is legal, but is it morally okay?

An example, the legal age for sex is 16. If a 50-year-old man has sex with a 16-year-old girl, sure it is legal, but is it moral. A few years ago it was decided that a man could rape his wife, blowing out of the water millennia of how marriage is viewed. Prior to that it would have been perfectly legal for a husband to hold down his wife and have sex with her, but would it have been moral, with her protesting that she is not interested and does not want to take part.

Politicians must not only be found to be doing the legal thing, they must also be found to be doing the morally correct thing when in office. That is part of the deal and something both parties have championed and then walked back once in power because quite frankly they have no morals.

I will freely acknowledge the vessel which brought the message is not fit for purpose, but the item it carries is. Just as when Bruce Golding condemned political violence, the vessel isn’t perfect but what it carried was.

This event is once again showing that we in this country who are politically interested, from those educated to those uneducated, for the most part, don’t give a damn about the message, good or bad, and are only in this for partisan reasons.

Those who defend the PNP will praise Mark to the sky while ignoring the fact that the PNP said nothing to oppose Juliet’s instillation and cry corruption. Those who defend the JLP will cry hypocrisy and the attack on a woman’s dignity. They will pay no attention to the fact that such an action would not be allowed on any publicly listed company without serious and rigorous investigation which puts the Integrity Commission to shame.

The tired excuse of her being a duly elected member who was approved by both sides is immaterial to the fact that it opens up the door for conflict of interest and needs to be questioned.

If the chairman and CEO of a publicly listed company’s spouse was the head regulator at the JSE, it would be looked into and questioned even if all listed companies had no issue with it because they deal with companies beyond Jamaica who require stricter regulation than we allow. It is the same situation here and to see people claim the allegation is “she can’t get any role outside of MP because she’s married to the PM” is hilarious, but again speaks volumes of how we view our politics and how we view integrity.

Of course Mrs Holness is qualified for the post. She is super bright, accomplished in her chosen field, tough as nails and the list goes on. Truth be told, she is, in my estimation, more qualified than her husband, and I have no doubt that in the job she had prior to politics she chewed up and spit out many men.

That, however, is not the point, and as unfair as it may seem to be or even is on the Uber-qualified wife of the PM, that fact places her position in the seat of speaker under a serious cloud of potential conflict of interest.

This act has, I think, fulfilled the annual quota of politicians saying out loud the things people are thinking about and highlighting that they know why we are apathetic, they just don’t care enough to fix it. They don’t care because they benefit; they benefit in knowing who will vote for what party and can act accordingly.

This issue also shows up issues in the much-vaunted Westminster system to which we cling so slavishly. It is obvious that in our current set-up where only two parties have the ability to gain entry to Parliament, coupled with such a low number of parliamentarians, the Speaker of the House will not be an impartial individual and will lean towards their party — that is the Government.

It is immoral, a position which in other countries would be untenable, and this shows that the system we have does not work and a new one is needed. Nothing will change as a result of this, Mrs Holness will continue in her position, the two parties will maintain calls for a Westminster system with a president instead of a king, and people will continue to pay little to no attention to what comes out of Gordon House unless it is cass-cass, drama, or the inadvertent truth.

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