The eloquent, unpenned acceptance speech by Lloyd B. Smith, a first-time member of parliament (MP) for Central St James, will not erase his embarrassing entrance to the seat of governance – George William Gordon House – yesterday when he took the oath of allegiance with his trousers falling off.
New and returning parliamentarians, visitors and officials were shocked into silence, when the newspaper columnist, who for many years served as editor of the Western Mirror, prepared to take the oath with one hand holding up his trousers.
Smith ignored a quiet word from leader of government business, Phillip Paulwell, who had advised him of his dishevelled state, and proceeded to travel the two sides of the Chamber to greet colleague members.
He had earlier made his way to the middle of the aisle and ahead of the mace to take the oath without any mishap. However, just before repeating the words and swearing on the Bible, he hastily tugged at the right side of his trousers, pulling it up.
On completion of the oath, it is customary to meet and greet members.
It was during this time that his fault was exposed. The short and rotund Smith began pulling on his pants every two steps, and the shocked silence of members turned to sheepish laughter, stunned looks, shamefaced glances and downright distaste.
Even members of the government benches looking on were unable to say a word.
After concluding his meet-and-greet, Smith went back to his seat, and was observed pulling a belt through the loops of his pants. It remained unclear why he was beltless when taking the oath.
Shortly after, Smith was nominated as deputy speaker of the House, to assist Speaker Michael Peart, the member from Manchester South.
Smith could have redeemed himself with an inspiring and eloquent acceptance speech, in which he tried to laugh at himself, but his appearance and demeanour was the talk of the occasion.
Said Smith: “I accept this responsibility with a great deal of humility. I hope the headlines will not be that the deputy speaker was caught with his pants down.”
He added: “I wish to thank the honourable members of this House for having placed such confidence in me. I am heartened by the fact that, if the level of cordiality and conviviality that I see being displayed here today is to continue in the ensuing months and years, then the task of the Speaker ought to be a very easy and welcomed one.”
Said Smith: “Let me hope that, despite the cut and thrust that is part and parcel of the parliamentary process, that we would have taken the message from the Jamaican people very seriously, that Parliament ought to be at a certain level, that can be fully respected, appreciated and admired by every well-thinking Jamaican.”
In closing, he said: “And so I urge all the members of this House, let us behave and conduct ourselves in a manner that befits this honourable House, so that that particular line in our National Anthem, ‘Teach us true respect for all’, will be all pervasive in the House, and outside of this House. I thank you.”
Photo Credit: Rudolph Brown