Generational & Gender War – Politics in Jamaica

Generational & Gender War – Politics in Jamaica

Marcia Forbes PhD

Yes, we feeling HOT, HOT, HOT, and it’s not because of the soca beat!! The war to rid political parties in Jamaica of old and often ailing politicians is on. G2K, the youth arm of the JLP, fired the 1st salvo by describing the parties as, “jammed tight with the outdated past”, declaring in their press release that, “it is high time several of our older politicians seriously consider throwing in the towel”.


How young is young?

This strict focus on the right to seek to represent the people purely on a generational basis, meaning only the young should seek to serve in politics is hogwash! Youth and exuberance must be balanced with the experience and wisdom which often come with age. The real problem, though, is that so many of our young people have grown up seeing the older politicians pillage and plunder the public purse that they want to see change. But wake up G2K and all you others who may be pushing this line because in some instances we’ve all seen, the young ones can be even more greedy and barefaced in their ambitions and corrupt practices.

One so-called Brianna Scarlett has been helping to fuel the fire with letters to the editor published in both dailies on September 29th. Captioned “Urgent need for old politicians to go” in one newspaper and “Fresh faces needed in politics” in the other, she seems to be leading the charge for G2K as she openly states her support for their position. While I agree that both political parties need to be refreshed and renewed, knowingly dumping the baby with the dirty bath water is ‘murderous’ and ill-conceived. Although in this case the ‘babies’ to be dumped are old, grey men, allow me the analogy to make the larger point.

Chris Tufton, Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, one of the young, bright politicians, has sounded a call for reason. Without this measure of reason, the G2K will itself be vilified for being too hasty and eager to grab power. In fact the letter writing campaign of one Hubert McIntyre of Torado Height, Montego Bay has harshly criticized the G2K president. In McIntyre’s Sept. 28th letters to the editor captioned, “Gov’t should seek better spokespersons for TV programmes” in one newspaper and “Arrogance is my name” in the other, Seiveright has been specifically named. He should take heed. As old people say, “a word to the wise is sufficient!”; But then, based on his stance, he may not be inclined to listen to the old.

In any event, however, age is always relative. Teenagers believe those 30 and over are old, while many men at 40 believe and act as if they’re young. Many will classify male politicians in their 50s as young although they may not be so eager to so classify female politicians who are at that age. So what’s the measure? Whose yardstick will we use in a country where almost 70% of the population is under 35 years of age?

At what age does one become an ‘old’ politician? Is it based on the length of time in representational politics or on chronological age? One’s gender does play a role in the definition as women are classified as old far earlier than men. While I’m not encouraging the lazy old men in politics to continue to take up space and mark time with tax payers money, let’s work with the most capable persons and vote for those who are getting the job done. After all, doesn’t democracy work best when based on meritocracy and fair play? Speaking of fair play brings me to this untidy matter between Greg Christie and Paula Llewlyn, two high-ranking public officials.


Gender War & ‘Fear Play’

It seems that rather than fair play, much of what has been taking place between Contractor General Christie and Director of Public Prosecution Llewlyn is ‘fear play’, meaning a grand power-struggle between the two offices and their leaders. Some two years ago I heard rumblings of the contentions between them. Christie can be described as a proud, arrogant man yet mostly good for Jamaica at this time. Llewlyn is a smart, confident and charismatic woman. She is no pushover!! Llewlyn loves the limelight as much as Christie and that may be their fatal flaw.

A recent Clovis cartoon characterized the unseemly tug-o-war between the two as a Bull fight, but not between two bulls, although metaphorically speaking it really is! Llewlyn, a female, can be ‘bullish’ in her beliefs and interpretation of the law. Christie, a male, sometimes behaves like a ‘bull in a china shop’. I believe gender is playing a role in this ‘war’ or ‘bull-fight’ between them. Interestingly though, following on with Clovis’ cartoon, it is more often the raging bull (as Christie was depicted) that is done away with in a bull fight than the bull-fighter (as Llewlyn was depicted). They both need to get out of the ring and stay out and Jamaicans need to stop salivating for the taste of blood. We are not Draculas, or are we?