WHY STICK AROUND? GET LOST!

Wouldja believe that, despite my clear explanation in last Sunday’s Gleaner (“Purge JLP of Back-stabbers”), persons continued to refer to Young Andrew’s Senate house cleaning as “underhanded” “unconstitutional” along with other not-so-complimentary epithets?

 

One morning radio talk show star, seemingly unable to get over her political disappointment or herself, went off on a rant about the Gleaner mixing up cabinets with senators and about writers wrongly using ordinary Statutes to interpret the Constitution – a law apart (or something like that) standing above all others.  Shiver me timbers!  Sounding to me like someone frothing at the mouth, she bemoaned the damage done to the “Independence of the Senate”; and accused the Opposition Leader of trampling on the Constitution.  Trampling??  Oh dear.

 

Did she read last Sunday’s column?  Perhaps not.  Or maybe she read but failed to understand.

 

                   “(I, I, I, I was born a loooooser….) Wow!                                           Girl, why do you take so long to understand?                                                  I tell you this when I’m here this is “near”                                                  and if I run away and go a way back here                                                   that you can hardly hear me this is “far” Wow!                                           We’re on Sesame Street!  

 

One last time for those with learning difficulties:

 

Nowhere in the Constitution is the Senate described as “Independent” especially vis a vis the political parties. In fact, the entire Constitutional structure of the Senate suggests the exact opposite.  If persons of independent political mind are appointed that would be a deliberate act by one or both of the political party leaders.  Nothing in the Constitution mandates either to do so.

 

Members of Parliament are elected by the people and, as such, have a certain security of tenure.  Senators are selected by special MPs (Prime Minister/Leader of The Opposition) and, accordingly, serve at those special MPs’ pleasure.  In practice, the methods used to ensure that would be agreed (expressly or impliedly) between selector and selectee.  Why would a senate selectee believe he had a right to refuse his selector’s request to stand down?  What right does he have to that Senate seat save the Party Leader’s show of confidence by appointment?  It’s an unpaid post; there’s no employment contract; nobody applied for the job; nobody was elected.  The process began and ended within the Party Leader himself who is thereby authorized to remove any Senator.   At that point, a Senator’s only legal or pragmatic choice is the level of dignity with which he leaves.  Either he stands up and gives up his seat voluntarily or the chair is yanked from under him. 

 

Suppose Party Leader had at the outset asked Senators-to-be to cement his grip on the chair by signing blank, undated, unspecified letters of resignation.  Senators-to-be have simple choices.  Sign; walk away; or insist that the letter contains conditions as to the issues that may validate its use.  If Senators-to-be so insist, the burden of choice shifts to Party Leader who may agree or walk away; eventually appointing someone else.

 

So, if educated adults sign undated, unconditional letters of resignation, they’ve thereby agreed from the get-go to resign at a moment’s notice, whenever the party leader requires them to do so.  It matters not which specific issue was troubling the Leader at the time.  Senators-to-be, anxious to add prestige to their resumes, rushed to sign without insisting on specificity.  If you signed these unspecified letters, what’d you think would happen if, for example, you started to vote with Government on issues unrelated to the original concern?  Blank, unspecified, undated letters of resignation are like blank cheques.  They can be used at any time for any reason.

 

                   “And listen to this: A, B, C, D, E and F.                                            Never leave yu homework on the shelf                                                                      (I , I, I, I was born a loooooser). Aha!                                                              An’ now yu listen to this, girl; G, H, I, J, K and L.                                     The wax demand the music all these days.

 

Put yourself in the position of an Opposition Leader.  You’ve appointed 8 Senators.  Government has a 2/3rds majority in the lower house.  Crime rises to intolerable levels.  The Government believes it’s politically motivated crime and a law changing Jamaica into a one party state is proposed, passed by the Lower House.  One of your senators supports the move and is about to give Government the vote it needs to pass the Upper House.  He refuses to resign.  You have a signed, blank, undated, unspecified letter of resignation freely given to you before his appointment.  But, you did say then that the issue concerning you was the CCJ.  It never entered your head at the time you demanded the letters that one of your own would be so disloyal to your party’s principles as to go along with a One Party State law.  What do you do? 

 

Let’s look at another scenario.  No fundamental law is being passed; no parliamentary revolt is on the cards.  But some of your appointees have publicly exposed themselves as having such utter contempt for you as Party Leader also for your acumen and intellect that you’ve lost all confidence in their ability to work with you as Leader.  You fear they may undermine the party looking for more knives to insert.  You call a confidence vote of Party Delegates and get it 57% to 43% (landslide proportions).  What do you do?  Wait politely to see Brutus looming up behind you on the Senate floor?  Wait for those who bared their true feelings to find an opportunity to damage you even if they damage the Party in the rush? 

 

C’mon man!

 

Now, put yourself in a Prime Minister’s position.  You’ve appointed 13 senators.    Three have become disenchanted with how you’re running the party.  They don’t challenge you.  They don’t cross the floor.  But they use their votes, in conjunction with the Opposition’s 8 Senators, to persistently block every piece of necessary legislation to implement your government’s policies.  What do you do?  Leave them alone to frustrate Government policy on the basis that the Senate is “independent’?

 

C’mon man!

 

Fortunately, as I tried to explain last week, the law and the Constitution supports a Party Leader’s right to fire Senators at his/her pleasure.   

Section 35(3) of The Constitution provides “The remaining eight Senators shall be appointed by the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition…..

 

The sub-section is carefully worded.  The GG does NOT act “in consultation with” or “after consultation with” the Opposition Leader which would be interpreted as the GG deciding on the appointment but informing the Opposition Leader before making it public.  In this case, the GG MUST appoint “in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition”.  Hence, Opposition Senators are “selected” by the Opposition Leader and appointed by the GG on the Opposition Leader’s instructions.   

 

Still in doubt?  Section 1 (12) of the Constitution provides:

 

(12) The Interpretation Act, 1889 as in force on the appointed day, shall apply, with the necessary adaptations, for the purpose of interpreting this Constitution and otherwise in relation thereto as it applies for the purpose of interpreting…. Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom.

 

So, the Constitution may be supreme but its words have no more special meaning than the same words have in Statutes.  Finally, section 35 of the Interpretation Act provides:

 

35.  Where by or under any Act a power to make any appointment is conferred, then, unless the contrary intention appears, the authority having power to make the appointment shall also have power to   remove, suspend, reappoint or reinstate any person appointed in    exercise of the power.”

It’s pellucid beyond peradventure that our Constitution gives Young Andrew “power to remove……any person appointed in exercise of the power”.  The only grey area is the way in which two of the Senators were removed.  Young Andrew obtained signed, undated blank resignations from his appointees.  How’d he get these letters?  Did he purloin them from the signatories’ underwear while they slept?  Was a gun held to anybody’s head?  Or were they freely signed and handed over by the Senators-to-be?

                   “Now listen! M, N, O, P, Q,R, S.                                               Come on in children and do your bes’.                                                               ’Cause if yu don’t yu haffe sit in de park and say                                        U, V, W, X, Y and Zed,                                                                                              always think and use yu head.

The good news is Talk show star’s co-host, always using her head, stood firm, refused (for once) to be bullied or cowed and expressed a contrary and eminently sensible view far closer to real life eventualities than her more famous and allegedly more educated “leader”.      

David “Scotty” Scott was a member of singing/dancing group The Chosen Few around the time Lloyd Lovindeer was similarly engaged in The Fabulous Flames.  Legendary Producer Derrick t (“The man with two voices”) saw his individual talent; plucked him from the group; and the rest is history.  With seminal hits like Sesame Street; Draw Yu Brakes; and Riddle I Dis, the late, great Scotty rocked every dance party in Jamaica for decades.

What kind of man clings stubbornly to a position of influence despite his boss telling him they can’t work together?  What kind of man signs undated, unspecific, blank resignation letters and then complains because they’re used to end his services?  What kind of a man calls his boss ignorant, stupid and incompatible with intelligent people; tries to get the boss fired; and then, after failing to have the boss fired, demands that same boss keep him on as an unelected Senator?

For 25 years I’ve advocated for a directly elected Senate.  If politicos in power had listened, we’d not have this crisis today.  A Senate elected by proportional representation would avoid the pitfall of double landslides and, at 5% of popular vote per seat, maybe fringe groups like the NDM, Ras Astor Black’s or Miguel Lorne’s Movements might have a say in our Parliamentary affairs. 

Talk show star has been trumpeting K.D. Knight’s opinion that Young Andrew was “unethical”?  Now, there’s an unbiased source on JLP affairs.  It’s “unethical” to ask for resignation letters to be freely given but “ethical” to precipitate a sudden, unjustified unnecessary leadership challenge and for the losers to demand control over the Leader’s discretion? 

C’Mon Man!

Peace and Love

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