Golding, Bruce (Jamaica)

Reference work entry


Bruce Golding was sworn in as prime minister on 11 Sept. 2007 after the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won polling earlier that month. Winning 33 of 60 parliamentary seats, the JLP came back to government after 18 years in opposition. After 4 years in power he resigned as head of the JLP and prime minister.

Early Life

Bruce Golding was born on 5 Dec. 1947. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1969 with a degree in economics and was elected to the central executive of the JLP immediately afterwards. In 1970 he co-founded Young Jamaica, the party’s youth affiliate, before winning a seat in the 1972 general election.

In 1974 Golding was elected general secretary of the JLP but lost his constituency seat in 1976. A year later he was appointed to the senate and, when the JLP returned to power in 1980, was appointed minister of construction. In 1983 he won another seat and was elected JLP chairman in 1984. Following his party’s failure at the 1989 polls, Golding became shadow minister of finance and chairman of the public accounts committee.

In the early 1990s Golding’s attempts to change to the country’s political practices met with resistance and he left the JLP to establish the National Democratic Movement (NDM) in 1995. However, he resigned from the NDM in 2001 and returned to the JLP in Sept. 2002 where he once again sat in the senate. He was given the post of shadow minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade. In Nov. 2003 Golding was elected unopposed as party chairman and in Feb. 2005 became its leader. In April 2005 he won the seat of West Kingston in a by-election and became leader of the opposition. He led the JLP to electoral victory in Sept. 2007, becoming the first JLP prime minister since 1989.

Career Peak

Golding promised to prioritize the tackling of crime, poverty and unemployment. He abolished tuition fees in secondary schools and established an independent body to investigate police corruption. However, his tenure was marred by allegations of inappropriate use of executive power, and crime remained a serious problem. Jamaica’s murder rate is one of the highest in the world, in response to which parliament voted to retain the death penalty and Golding pledged to resume executions. In June 2010 security forces captured Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, a suspected drug trafficker, and extradited him to the USA, but only after violent resistance by Coke supporters in Kingston in which around 80 people died. In response to opposition criticism, in Oct. Golding announced the establishment of a commission of enquiry into the government’s handling of the episode.

On 25 Sept. 2011 Golding made clear his intention not to seek re-election as leader of the JLP in Nov. 2011 and step down as prime minister once a new leader had been elected. Although this was rejected by the JLP’s central executive, Golding’s decision remained. He was succeeded by the minister of education Andrew Holness on 23 Oct. 2011.

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