The need to rewrite Senate history: the awkward truth about ‘Senators’ Clarke and Reid

In somewhat typical fashion, we are in the land of double-think. No one seems ready to deal with yet another inconvenient truth. I just opened The Gleaner and read a story entitled ‘Reid, Clarke acknowledged by Senate‘. I know that I sleep well, but I am not asleep all the time. We just had a series of court rulings that told us, and retold us that the appointment of Dr. Clarke and Mr. Reid to the Senate was a null and void act. They were put in to replace Messrs. Tufton and Williams, but this was both illegal and unconstitutional. So, the Clarke-Reid time as Senators needs to be consigned to being figments of our imagination.

Your eyes deceived you: Reid and Clarke were never in the Senate
Your eyes deceived you: Reid and Clarke were never in the Senate

The Court of Appeal said in its ruling that “the Full Court was correct in finding [in February] that the demand for pre-signed letters of resignation was unconstitutional and invalid. Similarly, the use of those letters without the consent of the persons who had signed them was also invalid. Consequently, the letters of resignation that were delivered to the governor general by Holness were invalid and ineffective.”

“The Constitution provides that the seat of a member of either House becomes vacant ‘if he resigns his seat’. On 16 January 2012, prior to becoming a member of the House, the respondent Williams signed a letter tendering his resignation as a member of the Senate with immediate effect. That letter cannot be regarded as a resignation letter as a he was not yet a member of the Senate.”

So, strange though it may seem to some, we have to deal with how to unwrite the Clarke-Reid time in the Senate. They were there, unwittingly, under false pretences.

Some have asked, legitimately, how have the laws of the land been changed by the presence of persons (it’s ‘people’, but I’m now in Jamaica) who were not legally authorised to do what they were doing, by participating in Senate business? That question is a matter of fact, amd I would have thought that the Senate would do well to assure the country that all the votes taken were not swayed by those of the two not-really Senators.

It may make Hansard look weird, but their contributions ought to be taken out of the official records. That may leave our successors wondering to whom other members of the Senate were speaking at certain times, but I’m sure that a way around that can be found.

Look, Jamaica is not new to political farce, so why not add this to the long litany. I don’t know if we are unique in having illegal participants in our legislative proceedings, but it may be another Jamaican first.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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