I confess.

I loved Troy Caine’s guest column (“Cabinets, breakfronts and Gordon Robinson”; In Focus; Sunday, May 15). To begin with, I’ve always admired Troy’s encyclopaedic recall of political history even if it comes with a mild JLP leaning. Just the other day, as Troy appeared on TV before the elections, I was saying to the Old Ball and Chain that I missed his perennial jousts with PNP alter ego Tony Myers.

I haven’t seen Tony (also, probably unknown to Troy, a horse-racing historian of note) in the public eye for some time and hope he’s ok.

For some reason, the Gleaner truncated Troy’s column online  so readers were unaware of his expressed admiration for “[Gordon’s] wit, unrepentant analogies and his adroit use of lyrics from popular songs to construct his points..” Well, Troy, I know 95% of your readers haven’t even noticed your own outstanding craft with the unrepentant analogy so allow me to lead your woodwind section. Examples:

  1. “…..while enduring his vast knowledge of horse racing from he was a boy watching the races at George VI Memorial Park…”;
  2. “Surely, as an attorney who was not so successful with the cases of Rhygin and Whoppy King,…..” Brilliant!

On the subject of a condemned man’s last meal, Troy, you’re very close to experiencing it yourself because I was trying to eat breakfast as I read your article and nearly choked to death laughing out loud at these gems.  By the way, the races I recall were at Knutsford Park (now New Kingston) when my mother and her siblings lived on Arnold Road beside the Grannums (legendary trainer, wife and Mother-in-law) combo of home and stables. One of these days, I plan to bore you with some gems of historical trivia about this great trainer for whom one of my Uncles was going to be a jockey; the other a groom and my mother spent her days spying on both.

But I digress.

For those of you waiting patiently for my cutting response to Troy, turn the page now. I won’t be arguing maths or history with Troy. He set out his disagreements with me and his reasons. No Trojan war required. I won’t dare dispute Troy’s historical facts since his knowledge of everything is impeccable from the days of his personal experience as friend and political observer of legendary activists like Marcus Garvey, William Wilberforce, Homer and Jesus Christ.

However, I will ask Troy to remove the blinkers/earplugs and try to see/hear what his facts are saying.  If he can:

  • do that;
  • restrain a reflex to defend every apparent political slight;
  • apply his awesome analytical talent to shaping Jamaica’s future rather than perpetuating the past,

he’ll understand why I insist the JLP’s cabinet is “bigger” than the PNP’s and why the trend of restricting too many constituency representatives’ ability to do their primary jobs must be broken by Constitutional reform.

Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed.
No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead.
The world has changed so very much from what it used to be.
There’s so much hatred war an’ poverty.

My column was less about cabinet size as it was denouncing Westminster governance as irrelevant to modern Jamaica. Cabinet size was used as an example of Westminster cramping Jamaica’s ability to deliver good governance in so many ways, including:

  • forcing PMs to select ministers from Houses of Parliament;
  • restricting the talent pool from which Jamaica’s executive managers may be appointed;
  • forcing PMs to walk a dangerous tightrope between satisfying personal demands based on electoral leverage which tends to increase the number of ministers/MPs ratio;
  • weakening the constitutional separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature
  • rendering the specifics of a national institution (Cabinet) perennially uncertain and subject to political whim

If Jamaicans don’t unite, move like a tidal wave and force radical Constitutional reform providing precise limitations within which government must operate, cabinet size will always be as arbitrary as hand or penis size.  Political argument surrounding any of these would be equally relevant.

The world won’t get no better
if we just let it be.
The world won’t get no better.
We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me.

Music trivia/history for historian, Troy Caine: The lyrics quoted aren’t from a Teddy Pendergrass song.  Wake up Everybody was recorded by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes on an album which declared the group featured “Theodore Pendergrass Jnr.”

Peace and Love


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