Mark Golding — the man who did not crave leadershipTuesday, July 27, 2021
Dr John Golding and his wife probably had visions of their son, Mark, being a future leader when they gave him the surname of the third American President Thomas Jefferson.
But Mr Mark Jefferson Golding has never seemed in any kind of hurry to be leader of his People's National Party (PNP) and has lacked the passion, charisma, and political craftsmanship of the immediate past PNP leaders.
That he is an affable man, who is easy to talk to, there is little doubt. No one questions his acumen as an attorney and investment banker; it is that political killer instinct that appears to be missing.
Mr Golding is the sixth president of the PNP more by default than by personal design. The position was always going to Mr Peter Bunting — Mr Golding's business twin — until his seismic defeat in Manchester Central by a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) newcomer.
The wily Mr Bunting then manoeuvred Mr Golding into the position, having the good sense to know that his most outspoken supporter, Dr Dayton Campbell, was too divisive a personality to replace Dr Peter Phillips as the party leader.
In the internal elections, Mr Golding defeated Mrs Lisa Hanna among delegates, who were not yet ready for a second woman leader, and who had still not got over the fact that she had come to the PNP from the JLP.
Before that, he had not shown any appetite for party leadership and appeared content with being on the inside — through the Senate — while remaining outside electoral politics, until he was parachuted into St Andrew Southern when Dr Omar Davies stepped away in 2017.
He kept well away from previous leadership contests and seemed to get involved only when Mr Bunting roped him in to face Dr Phillips. Even then he never publicly muddied the embattled leader's name.
Mr Golding showed his lack of preparation for the big stage, as evidenced by his full-throated backing of Dr Campbell in the sex allegation against him by a party member.
The recent resignation of the party chairman, three vice-presidents, and the president of the youth arm is arguably the sternest test faced by Mr Golding. His response so far has been to show he would rather not deal with the turmoil it has caused.
In his major address on Sunday to the PNP's National Executive Council, he mostly ignored the issue of the fracturing of the party.
On the plus side, his academic and business credentials are unquestioned. He was educated at Marlborough College, University of Oxford and University College London, was admitted to the bar in 1990, and joined the Hart Muirhead Fatta law firm.
In 1993 he co-founded Dehring, Bunting & Golding Limited, Jamaica's first private investment bank; served as a director at GraceKennedy Limited Caribbean Information, Credit Rating Services Limited, and the Bank of Nova Scotia under Scotia Limited; and co-founded Proven Investment Limited, a publicly listed investment company.
As justice minister between 2012 and 2016, he chaired the Legislation Committee of Cabinet, during which time Parliament passed 121 Acts. He was more noticeable as a force behind the islandwide decriminalisation of marijuana.
But, some people are natural leaders who work better behind a more charismatic leader, hardly ever craving the limelight. Mr Golding might be one.
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