Opposition rankled by reference to Luther Buchanan as ’empty barrel’ | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News

First-term Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmoreland Eastern, the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Daniel Lawrence, rankled Opposition MPs during his recent maiden contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives, when he described his predecessor in the seat as an “empty barrel”.

Lawrence won the seat in the September 2020 General Elections, defeating the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Luther Buchanan in a major upset in a constituency that was once considered impregnable PNP territory.

Lawrence prevailed by 11 votes following a magisterial recount after the seat was initially declared for Buchanan.

Just two minutes into his presentation, Lawrence used the empty barrel term which generally means a noisy person who talks a lot, but lacks intellect or substance.

“Madam Speaker, there was once an empty barrel sitting inside this honourable House,” Lawrence said following his opening remarks and to sustained applause from his Government colleagues.

“Who believed that his seat was permanent,” Lawrence continued after the applause had died down.

The Opposition considered his language to be unparliamentary. and the MP for St Andrew South West, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, rose on a point of order to protest, even as she was being shouted down by Government MPs.

“What is the point of order?” queried House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert.

“I believe it is unparliamentary to be calling a member who sat in this House an empty barrel,” Brown-Burke responded.

While Government MPs protested, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, who was acting as House leader, said: “It is not unparliamentary to refer to someone as an empty barrel. Nothing is wrong with that. The truth of the matter is that it is not unparliamentary.”

The speaker’s main concern was that it was Lawrence’s maiden presentation, and she tried to restore order amidst the cross talk as Lawrence stood patiently waiting to continue his speech.

“In delivering our presentations we all make little quirks about our being elected here and I would like for us to extend to each other the gentleness that we ask the rest of society to extend to each other, and I ask him to continue his presentation,” said the speaker.

But Brown-Burke was not finished, and she responded to Government MPs who argued that Lawrence had not named anyone when he mentioned the empty barrel. Brown-Burke, however, insisted that the statement had been made in reference to the member who “previously sat in this House”.

Having been given the go-ahead to continue by Dalrymple-Philibert, Lawrence picked up right where he had left off.

“This empty barrel, Madam Speaker, was rolled away by a humble servant (Lawrence), thus creating history (by him winning the seat),” he said before going on to outline what he described as his achievements in the constituency over the past year.