Mark in a muddle

People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding has walked gingerly away from comments on race and other controversial issues by the party’s representative in Clarendon South Western Lothan Cousins, without an actual condemnation of the statements.

Addressing the PNP’s St Andrew South Eastern constituency conference just over two weeks ago, Cousins had charged that “the only person who is a Labourite, who is a black Labourite, must be a confused PNP”.

He added, “I can’t see how poor black people can support a party like the Jamaica Labour Party. That is not the party for us.”

He further chided private sector leaders who, he claimed, were propping up the Andrew Holness Administration.

Last Saturday Golding addressed the comments, which have sparked major controversy, without stating if the party had taken action against Cousins.

“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,” declared Golding.

“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,” Golding said.

“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,” added Golding.

According to Golding, the PNP has always been an alliance of the progressive elements of all classes, even while its 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,” he said.

In a major departure from Cousins, Golding applauded Jamaica Broilers for its recent decision to lower the price of chicken meat and urged other private sector entities to follow suit.

“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,” said Golding.

He, however, sidestepped Cousins’ claim that the price reduction was a trick by the company.

“Our party is a democratic and open organisation. 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,” declared Golding in a seeming backhanded defence of the first-term Member of Parliament.

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