Latin America & Caribbean

Jamaicans would have been better off British - poll

Queen Elizabeth II inspects a guard of honour in Kingston, Jamaica (19 Feb 2002)
Image caption Jamaica has seen debate as to whether or not to keep the British monarch as its head of state

A survey for a Jamaican newspaper suggests most islanders believe the country would have been better off if it had remained a British colony.

The poll, commissioned by The Gleaner, found that 60% of respondents backed this view. But 17% disagreed.

A thousand people took part in the survey, out of a population of 2.7m. The poll has a reported margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

Jamaica is due to celebrate 50 years of independence next year.

It is not clear what main reasons the respondents had for their choices.

But the island has struggled with high levels of poverty and crime.

The Gleaner has interpreted the results as suggesting "six in every 10 Jamaicans...long for 'the good old days'".

Cut royal links?

It is also not clear how this finding sits in the context of a long-running debate on whether the island should become a republic.

The Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has said he would like the island to cut its links with the British monarchy in time for the 50th anniversary.

The island achieved full nationhood on 6 August, 1962.

Mr Golding believes the time is right for a referendum on a platform of constitutional change.

As reported last month by the Jamaican Labour Party, this would involve coming to a consensus on issues such as how a new head of state would be appointed, and what would replace the United Kingdom Privy Council as the island's court of final appeal.

Whatever decisions may be reached, Mr Golding is certain of one thing.

"I have long believed that if I am to have a queen, it must be a Jamaican queen," he has declared.

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