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By Mark Golding – People’s National Party (PNP)
Class and race are real issues in Jamaica and remain intertwined with the high level of inequality in the society. Indeed, the issues of class, race and inequality influence fundamental aspects of our national life – how we fund education, enforce the law, deploy resources, treat with the Jamaican language and create opportunities in the society, among other things.
There needs to be recognition and an honest discussion of these issues if we are to succeed in overcoming inequality and ending acts of injustice and lack of opportunity affecting the majority. I have noted the discussions on these issues over the past week in sections of the media and wish to state for the record:
- Our Party believes and asserts that all Jamaicans are free to support the party of their choice, regardless of skin colour.
Having said that, there is no doubt that the masses of the people are better off when progressive politics holds sway. I will state without fear of successful contradiction that the PNP is the party that, while in government, has done the most to advance the interests of ordinary Jamaicans.
Indeed, Michael Manley and the PNP came to power in 1972 because of the failures of the JLP to deal with the conditions of the majority Jamaicans in the 1960s; and, even worse, because of Coral Gardens, the banning of Walter Rodney, Back-O-Wall, all of which occurred under JLP rule.
Jamaica changed in the 1970s, and in particular, the place of black people in our society changed in that era because of the progressive politics of the PNP. This cannot be denied. It is evidenced in all the legislation the Party has enacted to support women, children, the unborn, the elderly, workers, students, and small entrepreneurs.
The issues dividing our society are more subtle now, but status quo politics is not good for the majority of our people, who remain over-represented in poverty and under-represented in income, wealth, status and acceptance.
Paying debt and balancing the books without dealing with the conditions of the people is the status quo. If the people are in crisis and you aren’t Cushioning the Crisis, then you aren’t dealing with the majority group who need the State to bat for them and make their lives more bearable and their prospects in life brighter. That is the situation facing the people under the JLP Government.
Our Party stands by its record in relation to these matters and is committed, upon its return to power, to governing in the interests of all Jamaicans, while unapologetically placing emphasis on those who have been excluded and denied opportunities for their advancement.
- We have always been an alliance of the progressive elements of all classes, even while our mission has been the upliftment of the disadvantaged masses. By progressive elements, I am referring to those who use their positions of privilege to improve the condition of the masses, rather than to maintain the status quo.
For the record, our Party enjoys and welcomes support from enlightened private sector interests.
Indeed, our aim is to build a national alliance of progressives that can collectively summon the will and resources required to make our national motto, “Out of Many, One People”, more than a noble aspiration. We want to see it become an accurate description of Jamaican society.
Our founding President and National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley said it well when he expressed the goal in these terms – “First, foremost and above all, to make come true this great motto that I am proud of having played a part in formulating when I was Premier of Jamaica: ‘Out of Many, One People.’ We are many. That is colonialism. That is our particular history. That is the problem before all of Jamaica today – how to make out of many, one people.”
- In that spirit, we commend a recent gesture from a major local producer to reduce its price to the trade. We call on all suppliers of the basic needs of the population to follow that example and indeed to do more. This is especially needed at this time, given the government’s failure to adequately cushion the harsh cost of living crisis now engulfing the Jamaican people.
- Our Party is a democratic and open organization. It affords discussion and description of the realities of class, race and inequality in various ways by different comrades, even in terms that some may find objectionable. Even though visceral discomfort can arise in some quarters when attention is drawn to these issues, it is our Party’s mission and purpose to address these matters and to set them right by creating a more just and equitable Jamaica for all Jamaicans.