Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Holness needs Daryl Vaz

Published:Wednesday | February 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Perhaps Juliet Holness is the best person to ask this question: When Andrew Holness goes to his bed at nights, just before he travels to the land of nod, does he think about what he's going to do about Daryl Vaz? Does he ponder whether to re-engage Vaz with the brains trust of the party or does he continue to keep him on the margins, waiting to be addressed at a later date, like a piece of cho cho on a dinner plate?

Does the opposition leader even speak the words, 'Daryl Vaz', anymore? Or does he pray that the second-generation politician will become disillusioned enough to either seek a space on Portia's team or travel alone as an independent candidate in Western Portland?

Would Andrew Holness celebrate if Vaz decided to leave representational politics, or would he feel sincerely that the political process was weaker for the loss of a talented but heavily flawed operative? Does the corruption matter that will require Vaz to reappear in court later this month give Holness a convenient excuse to keep the 53-year-old in the neutral zone, pinned like a pair of wet briefs to the JLP's clothes line?

For instance, were the court matter not an issue, would Holness have named Vaz in the huge shadow Cabinet he has just announced? Hell, maybe even the lady who serves tea at JLP headquarters is a deputy spokesperson on something, so despite the enmity between the men, surely Holness would have found use for Vaz on his 25-strong team of spokespersons!

Politically, Daryl Wesley Vaz is no angel. But the great thing is he has never pretended to be. If I were Andrew Holness, I would fear him. But I would only fear him if I were a weak, indecisive leader who's struggling to balance the demands of leading an opposition party while keeping the internal rivals to my throne at bay.

I would fear Vaz if I lacked the ability to make the Jamaican people and electorate buy into my vision of what the country can be and how I can lead a team to make good on the hopes and dreams of the masses.

I would fear a man like Vaz if I knew within myself that the job of opposition leader was bigger than me and that Vaz was one of those people who would see through me and then take steps to neutralise me in both the party's and the public interest.

If Andrew Holness is afraid of Daryl Vaz, his handling of him makes sense. For clearly it makes no sense to embrace someone who's out to destroy you. But if the opposition leader has none of the shortcomings or failings suggested above and does not fear Daryl Vaz, his treatment of him makes no sense.

Vaz is a curious character who clearly does not rate his party leader. That's not a problem, because worse has been said about another party leader by key operatives within a certain political camp, and look at them now, as jolly and united as a side chick and her lover's credit card. But ever since he orchestrated the JLP's 5-4 win in the 2003 local government election in West Portland, Vaz has demonstrated his usefulness as a political asset.

Vaz, personally, is no danger to Holness' leadership of the party. He knows he lacks the skills to be prime minister and has no interest in being the ultimate boss in the organisation. Where he's deadly is in his ability to sell a dream to a man of greater talents who may otherwise be reluctant to rock the JLP boat and vie for leadership. Witness his transformation of Audley Shaw from a man who was eyeing political retirement into a man who fought a good battle in the JLP leadership contest.

Vaz is a rebel, looking for a political cause to champion. Given Vaz's history, it's understandable why many believe that his banishment to the JLP's substitutes' bench may only serve to give him time to plot another attack on Holness' position. That's why Holness needs to assign him a cause so he can expend his energies in service of his party and his leader.


n George Davis is a journalist at Nationwide News Network. Email feedback to and