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Daryl Vaz: suicide bomber in JLP ranks

Published:Wednesday | January 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMR. Daniel Ramsay

THE SUGGESTION made publicly by Western Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz for the intervention of former Prime Ministers Edward Seaga and Bruce Golding in the running of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is nothing more than an attempt to embarrass the party and its leader.

It is obvious that after failing to dislodge the leader, Andrew Holness, by backing a challenge to his leadership in 2013, Mr Vaz is now seeking to revive the remnants of that campaign to foment disunity and, probably, another challenge to his leadership prior to the next general election.

Mr Vaz knows full well that the relationships between Mr Holness and both former leaders of the part - Mr Seaga and Mr Golding - are very good, and that Mr Holness has never avoided seeking their advice, nor ignored their views whenever he seeks them.

In fact, it was Mr Seaga who saw the political qualities of Mr Holness in the 1990s to both employ him and then recruit him as a candidate. Mr Golding was so convinced of Mr Holness' leadership qualities that he hinted approval of Holness' succession to lead the JLP through one of the most challenging periods of its history in 2011.

Mr Holness has never sought to restrict any of these former leaders from giving him, or other members of the JLP's leadership, the benefit of their knowledge and experience. Mr Vaz knows very well that any contribution from either of them has always been welcomed by the leader and the party.

In addition, there are vehicles within the party through which Mr Vaz could have made his views heard at the highest level, and mechanisms through which they could have been discussed and resolved.

In these circumstances, therefore, the question is why he chose to make these comments through the media and not the party's mechanisms.

I think that it very unfortunate that he should have done so at this time, while the party is completing a process of resolving issues which are outstanding since the leadership challenge and selecting candidates for both the local government and general elections.

WHY THIS ROUTE, MR VAZ?

Is it that Mr Vaz thinks that his links with the media, as the former information spokesman for the party, offer him a unique platform that is more effective than the JLP's internal dispute-resolution facilities? Does this place him in a position from which he can call the shots when he feels like, and ignore the authority of the members and supporters of the party and the persons they choose to represent their views?

Is Mr Vaz exploiting Mr Holness' willingness to be accommodating and allow for the democratic process to prevail, over the old political style in which those who make the loudest noise get their way, or is he challenging the authority of Mr Holness and the party's democratic instruments?

What would happen if Mr Holness should respond to Mr Vaz's challenge to his authority, without responsibly considering the effect this would have on the party and its members, as well as the public perception of the party as being disunited?

Labourites should recall that Mr Vaz was once the main critic of Mr Seaga when that leader made similar efforts to deepen unity within the party and strengthen its disciplinary, democratic and political processes. Is he saying that Mr Seaga's leadership style is now preferable to that of Mr Holness?

I have no doubt that the vast majority of Labourites welcome Mr Holness' refreshing approach to politics and his attempt to transform the party from a mere electioneering machinery to a national institution.

This cannot be achieved by ignoring democratic mechanisms within the party, or through a leadership which is totally absorbed and focused on winning and retaining power. It cannot be achieved with leaders who are determined to pursue selfish agendas.

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