Source: Jamaica Gleaner
While most Jamaicans support the removal of Queen Elizabeth II as head of State, the country’s two main political parties are still bitterly divided over the issue. The incumbent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is insisting that the matter is one for the electorate to decide while the People’s National Party (PNP) has given a commitment to starting the separation process if it forms the next Government.
The issue came up during Tuesday’s first of three political debates ahead of next week’s general election.
The PNP team was asked why Jamaicans should trust their word this time around, having previously declared that they would have removed the Queen as head of State before their 2011 election victory.
Raymond Pryce, the PNP’s candidate for St Catherine East Central, said that his party had started the transition with a recommendation for using a private member’s motion to rename the throne speech – which is delivered by the governor general at the start of the parliamentary year – as the people’s speech.
“We hoped that our parliamentary colleagues opposite would have joined us in that transformative and visionary move. However, they stuck to the need for a referendum. We submit and invite our members opposite to finally agree, in front of Jamaicans abroad and here, that they believe in the Jamaican people sufficiently to say to this vestige of our colonial past, the English Monarch, that time come,” he said. “We can chart our own course, and the head of our State should not be embarrassed by colonial insignia linked to a past that enslaved this race and this people.”
However, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith fired back, telling him that the JLP believes in the people so much it insists that their voice must be heard on such an important issue.
“We don’t understand what objection the PNP has to a referendum. We believe that matters which are sensitive – sometimes even controversial matters on which the Jamaican society is divided – should be put to a referendum,” she said.
A Don Anderson poll commissioned by the RJRGLEANER Group on the matter has found that 58.7 per cent of 1,050 respondents, aged 18 years and older and polled in July, were in favour of cutting ties with the British monarchy. A breakdown shows 28.6 per cent think it is time to cut ties; 17.3 per cent believe Jamaica should abandon it because the island is independent; and 11.1 per cent were in favour of separation, saying that the country does not enjoy any benefits from the system.
A mere 0.9 per cent support such a move on the grounds that the Jamaican Government does not need help while 0.8 per cent said that the country has been able to achieve post-Independence success without the British.
Still, nearly a third of Jamaicans (32.6 per cent are opposed to cutting ties with the monarchy in the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.
Some 19.8 per cent are of the view that Jamaica should remain under the monarchy. Another 9.6 per cent believe that Jamaicans benefit, and are, in fact, better off, while 3.2 per cent are convinced that the Jamaican Government is not capable of going it alone.
Some 8.6 per cent of the persons interviewed were ambivalent on the issue, with 6.2 per cent saying that they were not sure, 1.5 per cent offering no comment, and 0.7 per cent saying it makes no difference.
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