This week’s featured development as Newsmaker of the Week just ended is Cabinet Minister Everald Warmington’s verbal lashing of former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) President and Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, telling him to back off and desist from purportedly criticising Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his Government over its handling of the Stocks and Securities (SSL) fraud scandal.
Known as an often controversial and unchecked politician in terms of his speech, Warmington’s frankness is now not a surprise, but his caustic comments about his own former JLP leader has been viewed by some as a rare and strange political development.
It appears Warmington did not feel the need to hold anything back while on tour in North East St Elizabeth last week, when he chastised Golding for being part of a wider attack group of persons who have Holness in their crosshairs.
“What I find with this guy (Bruce Golding), he always finds some reason to go after Andrew Holness indirectly, and my position is, Bruce Golding as leader has been a failure, (and) as prime minister, double failure!” Warmington declared.
He cautioned, though, that the views he was making were his own, and not that of the party that Golding led from 2005 to 2011.
Warmington, who is the Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for works, was not through with Golding, shocking some observers looking on in bewilderment how a JLP politician could so publicly and crudely criticise one of the party’s own past prime ministers.
“It’s a guy (Golding) who has loss his relevance and is trying to be relevant, but by attacking your own party… that nuh make yuh relevant,” declared a seemingly irate Warmington.
“… And I want to say, Bruce (Golding) needs to stop it, and stop it now! Back off!” instructed Warmington.
His overall comments came in response to statements Golding made on a local radio programme he (Golding) hosted recently.
The former JLP leader suggested that the current Government “has a responsibility”, as “they are the ones that issued licences to these investment houses”.
According to Golding, in issuing the licences, “what they (the Government) are saying to the public is that I’m satisfied that these are good people to do business with, so you can do business with them.”
In elaborating, Golding said: “Well that is what Usain Bolt did, and look what happened to him.”
The comments from Golding were carried in snippet of his overall comments on the programme, which have gone viral on TikTok.
More than Jamaican $1 billion has gone missing from an account that was held on behalf of Bolt at SSL in the burgeoning fraud case that has reverberated globally. This is largely because the company’s most famous client – the sprint legend – is said to have lost US$12.8 million in the debacle.
Clearly incensed by Golding’s recent remarks relative to the SSL matter and the Government’s perceived handling of it, Warmington reiterated his call for Golding to “stop it now!”
Added the controversial politician: “I believe if there is an issue, Bruce Golding, who has been a former leader, a former prime minister, (should) call Andrew Holness and talk to him behind closed doors…
“… But yuh keep on snipping, and it’s an attack indirectly on my prime minister, my Government, and party, and I will defend the Jamaica Labour Party, Andrew Holness Administration, and Prime Minister Andrew Holness by any means necessary,” said a seemingly resolute Warmington.
Golding was sworn in as Prime Minister of Jamaica on September 11, 2007, and served in that capacity until his sudden resignation on October 23, 2011 amid a controversy relative to a development after an extradition request was made by the United States government for then Tivoli Gardens strongman, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
To the issues Golding raised relative to the SSL fraud matter, Warmington said: “My position, based on his (Golding’s) statement… on some programme that he is on, (is) enough is enough!
“You gonna talk about Government must encourage people to invest in stocks and whatever…, what on earth does the Government have to do with SSL?” Warmington questioned.
“That’s a private investment entity,” he said in responding to his own question.
Instead of replying extensively to Warmington, Golding reportedly wrote a local television station and expressed concern about the portrayal of his comments in a news report on the matter.
“The portrayal of my comments as a criticism of the prime minister and his Government is a setup designed for sensationalism, plain and simple,” Golding said in the letter, which was obtained elsewhere in the media.
In the letter, Golding said he was “not at all perturbed by the brouhaha from Warmington” regarding his comments on the SSL matter.
“I am, however, very perturbed at the unfortunate (and must be) deliberate slant given by your reporter. My criticisms were directed at the FSC (Financial Services Commission), SSL’s internal and external auditors, and its management,” wrote Golding.
He added: “Granted that the political executive has ultimate responsibility, it is more than a stretch for your reporter to conveniently assert that my criticisms were directed, by extension, at the Government’.”
Interestingly, the surprising critique of Golding by Warmington has generated varying perspectives online, and even more interesting is it, that some well-known JLP supporters are taking the controversial politician’s side over that of their former party leader.
Past president of the young professional affiliate of the JLP, Generation 2000, Ryan Strachan, tweeted: “I am in support of MP Warmington”.
But in replying to Strachan, Twitter user, @happy_Jamaican, said: “I am not in support of him (Warmington) coming out publicly berating the legacy of the former PM (Golding).
“I’ve never really seen (any of) the Opposition MPs come out and class PJ (Patterson)/Portia (Simpson Miller), even tho(ugh) we all know PJ/Portia (are perceived to have) caused some bad stuff with the economy etc,” the individual wrote.
Ardent JLP supporter, @kiz_instyle, tweeted: “Thank you very much, MP Everald Warmington.
“A want to hug and squeeze yuh tight, sir. Enough is enough, Bruce (Golding) should be ashamed of himself as a former PM of this country.”
In response to that tweet, @karemcares, said: “I rate MP Warmington. He speaks his mind and speaks truth”.
Another user of that platform, @Annmerita, did not agree with those in support of Warmington.
“Empty barrels that make the most noise, I’ve found are usually the ones seeking ‘relevance’ and need to be the extra loud ones in the room to gain the desperate validation they need to thrive.
“Listening to understand, sir (Warmington), instead of barking noisily, would serve you best,” she shared.
On Facebook, Kaniel Cole commented: “Why Andrew (Holness) couldn’t talk fee’m self? And why a now wi a know seh Bruce (Golding) is a failed leader, kmt. Bruce never seh a ting wrong, he spoke the truth.”
Shared another Facebook user, Tamara Lindsay: “Warmington can rebuke all he wants, but it’s the truth. The Government has a huge responsibility to play. They seem to enjoy the salaries, but they fall short in their efforts.
“They issued licences, so they should follow through with regular monitoring to ensure the safety of the people’s money,” she added.
Commented Robert Thomson: “Warmington and his outbursts continue to remind us that he is a major in the intellectual lightweight league.
“His typical style is to attack the messenger whenever he’s incapable of addressing the message.”
However, Phylis Sutherland was not at all joining in the party of commentators bashing Warmington.
“I agree with Mr Warmington this time. I get the feeling Mr Golding is a little jealous over Mr Holness’ achievement when he look at the country now vs his and others time,” Sutherland opined.
Continuing, she said: “The various reforms and infrastructure development taking place; all the achievements without new taxes and tax increases – there are many positives.
“With all due respect, looking back at Mr Golding’s tenure, I have to ask, what is his legacy except for Tivoli incursion?” Sutherland questioned.
“Sometimes you just have to easy yourself when you retire and let the people in the seat do their work. ‘Private’ Business is just that.
“I am sure Usain (Bolt) and others regret how it get to this point where all and sundry up in their business,” she stated further.
Warmington is no stranger to being controversial.
In November of last year, the South West St Catherine Member of Parliament (MP) pulled the racial card that he claimed the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) started, saying he was merely finishing the debate.
“Weh Mark Golding mother and father come from? If he wants to be prime minister, guh back a England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, but him nah beat Andrew Michael Holness,” Warmington told party supporters at a JLP constituency meeting in St Catherine at the time.
“I don’t talk about colour and race, but they (the PNP) started it, so let me finish it. Dem seh Seaga born up deh so, but weh fi dem leader come from? Backra master,” added Warmington.
The ‘backra master’ phrase is in reference to the fact that Golding’s parents were both white, and his father, in particular, was an Englishman named Sir John Golding.
Jamaica was colonised by Britain in 1655, and granted independence on August 6, 1962.
Sir John Golding was a university professor and a prominent orthopaedic surgeon who was well-known for his service to the poor in Jamaica.
Though the powerful private sector lobby group, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), condemned the Warmington’s comments at the time, describing it as “divisive” and having “no place in the Jamaican context now or in the past, as it is totally inconsistent with our motto ‘Out of Many, One People,” Warmington remained largely unfazed.
He was also unmoved by the revelation that then Political Ombudsman, Donna Parchment Brown, who has since retired and the office has been subsumed into the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), had launched an investigation into the comments he made on the political platform in Cheesefield in the North East St Catherine constituency.
Donna Parchment Brown
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what the ombudsman wants to do,” Warmington was quoted as saying in a media interview.
Then he swung at the PSOJ.
“The likkle ting weh yuh call PSOJ, did they condemn Mark Golding when him call the Chairman of the (JLP) party, Bobby Montague, the likkle bwoy? Did they? No, they didn’t,” Warmington claimed.
During the political hustings in late 2021, Golding labelled the JLP chairman as “di likkle bwoy Montague”, and described him as “Minister of Scandals”.
To date, Golding has not apologised, saying there is nothing to apologise for.