Phillips accuses Holness of 'political bad mind' for Manley criticism
Dr Peter Phillips
Opposition Leader and President of the People’s National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips has scolded Prime Minister Andrew Holness, describing his ‘attack’ on the legacy of former prime minister and PNP president, Michael Manley, as “political bad mind”.
He has accused Holness of trying to “denigrate the contribution” Manley made to national development.
Phillips, who was addressing Comrades in St Ann on Monday, questioned whether the intention of Holness and the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is to discard the gains and benefits he said Jamaicans derived from the policies of the Manley administrations of the 1970s.
“Is it that they want to discard the gains made by the Status of Children’s Act that ensured that ‘no bastard nuh deh again?” Phillips asked to sustained applause from Comrades.
Holness... said the post-independence gains made by JLP administrations of the 1960s were wasted by Manley's PNP administrations of the 1970s.
“Or is it maternity leave with pay that established Jamaica as being in the forefront of women’s rights…something that isn’t even established in great powers,” the Opposition leader added.
Phillips‘ comments in a near 30 minute speech was in response to comments Holness made last Thursday as he addressed the launch of the JLP's Education Fund scholarships. The prime minister stirred controversy among PNP supporters when he stated that the country was still paying for ideological missteps of the Manley administrations of the 1970s. Manley’s PNP held state power from 1972 to 1980.
According to Holness, the post-independence gains made by JLP administrations of the 1960s were wasted by “The misadventure of the PNP which diverted us from the path of economic growth, selling the people of Jamaica false hope and unrealistic dreams”.
“We had a flirtation with ideologies that were foreign to us and did not serve us well. With all the social problems that needed to be addressed, had we stayed the economic course and ensured that our economy was aligned to the opportunities that were created by the industrial transformations that were taking place, Jamaica would be a better place today,” the prime minster stated.
Holness pointed to the economic successes of Singapore and South Korea, noting that they were previously worse off than Jamaica but did well because they were not distracted.
Phillips had more questions for Holness.
He wanted to know if the prime minister also wants the policy of equal pay for women, or the rights of workers to organize that were codified in the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act under Manley’s leadership, discarded.
“Were they opposed to JAMAL or an independent foreign policy…free education, the Port Authority of Jamaica, the rural electrification programme?” Phillips further asked.
He pointed to the Jamaica Maritime Institute which has since been renamed the Caribbean Maritime University and whose reputation he said “they have sullied”, as among the achievements of the Manley administrations.
Phillips also pointed to the national youth service and the community health aide programmes.
“Tell us, what of it you want to remove because those programmes made a better Jamaica for those times,” Phillips said.
He added: “We can just simply say that the attack on Michael Manley and his legacy is totally uncalled for. Historians will do their work and will do the assessment. But to try to inject political bad-mindedness and to misrepresent the actual history benefits no one”.
According to Phillips, the comments by Holness are “a reminder to us in the People’s National Party of our legacy and our mission because the task of eradicating deep seated social inequality in Jamaica was the task then, and is our task today”.
Phillips said this was part of why it was important for the PNP to win the next general election.
He also accused Holness of misrepresenting the historical context by failing to acknowledge, among other things, the world oil crisis that was a shock to the Jamaican economy. This, he said, had the effect of wiping out the country’s balance of payment. He said Holness also failed to present the 1960s, regarded as the period of the most sustained economic growth in Jamaica’s history, in its proper context.
“The truth is (that) in the 1960s under the JLP, social inequality deepened. Urban ghettos expanded …for the first time in Jamaica’s history. (The) 1960s also was a time when the debt started running up.
“Don’t tell us nothing ‘bout the 60s being some period of steady progress under the JLP administration. In fact, the election of Michael Manley in 1972 helped restore social balance and had the effect of bringing into the mainstream of social life, people who had been marginalized and oppressed and robbed of their birthright in the 1960s,” Phillips stated.
And regarding Holness’ comparison of Jamaica with Singapore and South Korea which he noted were in the same position as Jamaica in the 1960s but which today are two of the world’s most prosperous economies, Phillips said the comparison was flawed and “plain disingenuous”.
He noted that Singapore has had a single government, limits press freedom and the ability to organize political parties.
Of South Korea, he noted that since the 1950s it has benefitted from the massive presence of United States troops since the end of the Korean War. As a result, he said, South Korea had “all the dollars they required”.