Mon | Sep 25, 2023

Call to topple Queen called ‘rational sense of justice’

Published:Wednesday | August 10, 2022 | 12:11 AM
Don Anderson poll on removing the Queen as head of state.
Don Anderson poll on removing the Queen as head of state.
Don Anderson poll on removing the Queen as head of state.
Don Anderson poll on removing the Queen as head of state.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

At least two academics have sided with the majority of Jamaicans who are in favour of removing the Queen as the country’s head of state.

Jamaica spent centuries as a colony of Britain until it gained political Independence in August 1962.

Dr Clinton Hutton, retired professor of Caribbean political philosophy, culture, and aesthetics, said there is a growing consciousness among Jamaicans about sovereignty.

“Our head of state should not be a foreign person who is the head of another country – the country that colonised Jamaica. This is only a rational sense of justice,” Hutton said in a Gleaner interview.

The professor said that Jamaica had suffered 468 years of colonial rule, 308 of which were under the British.

“We have a good majority who have seen it fit to assert that our sense of nationhood should reside in our own people,” he said, citing Barbados’ 2021 decision to become a republic, as well as the marginalisation of the Windrush Generation.

An RJRGLEANER Group-commissioned Don Anderson poll found that more than half of Jamaicans, or 56 per cent, want the Queen removed.

Even though the numbers have fluctuated, the majority of Jamaicans have maintained that view for the past decade.

A decade ago, 44 per cent of respondents indicated that Jamaica should abandon the monarchy, compared to 59 per cent in June 2020 and 56 per cent in July 2022.

The number of Jamaicans who believe that Jamaica should retain the monarchy is on the decline, with 40 per cent of respondents holding that position in 2012.

In June 2020, that number reduced by seven percentage points to 33 and declined again in July 2022 to 27 per cent.

Over the 10-year period, between eight and 17 per cent of Jamaicans said they were unsure about their position on the matter.

The growing consciousness to which Hutton referred was on display in March 2022, when dozens of placard-bearing demonstrators gathered near the British High Commission on Trafalgar Road in New Kingston to protest the pending arrival of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

They demanded reparation and an apology from the monarchy for slavery and also delivered an open letter to be passed on to Prince William.

At a courtesy call during the royal visit, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the Duke of Cambridge that Jamaica intended to remove his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, as the country’s head of state.

“We’re moving on and we intend to attain in short order … and fulfil our true ambitions as an independent, developed, and prosperous country,” Holness had said.

Dr Imani Tafari-Ama, research fellow at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies, Mona, said Jamaica should have had the good sense long ago to remove the Queen.

She said having the governor general, who represents the Queen, opening Parliament was “shameful”, implying that Jamaicans are not capable of running their own affairs.

“It is an indictment that only 56 per cent said yes in that poll. It means that the other 27 per cent are still of the mindset that prefer the coloniser.

“That lack of certitude among 17 per cent of respondents is another part of our indictment,” Tafari-Ama lamented.

The Holness administration signalled in June that the republican journey will be completed by the time voters go to the polls to elect a new government.

The next general election is constitutionally due by 2025.

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte said Jamaicans will be called on to vote in a referendum as part of the final steps to establish Jamaica as a parliamentary republic to replace the current constitutional monarchy.

The minister had also said that she will table legislation to advance the process at the beginning of the 2023-2024 legislative year.

The process to achieve republic status will begin with the establishment of a committee that will, among other things, conduct a comprehensive review of the 1962 Constitution, including the 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom.

The committee will also review recommendations made through the various constitutional reform commissions and committees in the past.

Fieldwork for Anderson’s poll, assessing 1,113 respondents, was conducted between July 16 and 26 this year. The margin of error was plus or minus three per cent.