Holness 'hype' nothing to fear, says Golding
People’s National Party (PNP) presidential aspirant Mark Golding is playing down Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ likeability factor and the role it may have played in the September 3 General Election which saw the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) deliver a shellacking to the PNP.
Speaking with Loop News, Golding said the election statistics do not indicate that the prime minister’s personality had any influence over the electorate, as only 21 per cent of registered voters cast their ballot for the JLP.
Quizzed if he can overcome the so-called ‘Brand Holness’ factor, Golding stated: “I think I am charismatic. I think I have had an interesting life.”
“Roughly 79 per cent of the voting public didn’t vote for the current government. So, I don’t think that the hype around Mr Holness is something for us to fear. I think if we bring substance, a clear message that resonates with the Jamaican people and if we conduct our affairs with integrity so that we are trustworthy, people will turn to us and I am confident of that,” Golding said.
Speaking about his “interesting life”, Golding said a huge chunk of his childhood was spent at the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus - where his father Sir John Golding, Jamaica’s first orthopaedic surgeon, was a professor - and neighbouring communities.
“I grew up on the university campus, riding bicycle, fishing in the river, playing football and cricket, made friends with people from surrounding communities - Hermitage, August Town - and played ball with them.
“So, I had a kind of well-rounded upbringing in terms of understanding people of all sorts in Jamaica,” Golding said.
He said that apart from football and cricket, his other interests included a sojourn into the island’s music industry that included being a producer, an artiste and a songwriter.
Golding said that his political ideology is in line with the democratic socialism founding principle of the PNP.
“The People’s National Party from its foundation was built on the principles of socialism. I am not too concerned about using labels in describing what we are. I think what really matters are the principles that underline the movement.
“Those principles are based on the quest for social justice; for righting historical wrongs that have plagued the Jamaican society; to make our society fairer and more just; the principle of equality of opportunity; and allowing all Jamaicans to get the right start in life, so that they can pursue their aspirations, based on their capacity and their determination, without any kind of structural impediments that make life unfairly tilted against them.
“This is what the People’s National Party has always stood for and continues to stand for and I believe will always stand for,” Golding said.
He, however, opined that policies and programmes must be developed that embody the democratic socialist goal for a specific time amid an evolving global environment which makes a revisit of the strategies a necessity.
Golding, a successful businessman, said both capitalism and democratic socialism can co-mingle in the modern world.
“Entrepreneurialism and business are important drivers of employment, investment and innovation. Jamaicans are natural entrepreneurs.
“I am somebody who has started more than one business and built those businesses to be very successful. I understand what it takes to build a successful organisation. How to work as a team. How to build loyalty within the team, wow to strengthen teamwork and deliver results.
“So I believe that my experience in business is very consistent with our overall philosophy, which is one of empowering the people and delivering a Jamaica where every person has a chance in life. I strongly believe in that and I think that that my own life personifies what can be achieved in that regard,” Golding said.
Currently, Golding is the chairman of the successful Arnett Gardens Football Club, which play in the top tier National Premier League. He is also involved with plans to strengthen the island’s football structure.
So, what’s in store for Mark Golding if he loses?
“You know I haven’t thought about that, because I actually think I am going to win and I am quite confident that the delegates understand what the party needs at this time and I think if they look at what the party needs and look at the profiles of the candidates, they will see that I am the person that actually has the best fit for that and that I am the right person to lead the party at this time,” Golding said.
Golding, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for South St Andrew, will face South East St Ann MP Lisa Hanna to take over the reins of the PNP. The election will be held on November 7.