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Holness names 31-member council of spokespersons

Published:Friday | January 30, 2015 | 1:00 AMGary Spaulding

A seemingly invigorated Opposition Leader Andrew Holness vowed yesterday to expel the very spectre of disunity haunting the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as he announced a 31-member council of spokespersons that he stressed does not reflect a future Cabinet.

The team, drawn from the House of Representatives and the Senate, was dominated by familiar faces, including estranged former government ministers Mike Henry, Ruddy Spencer and Delroy Chuck.

In doing so, Holness confirmed Gleaner reports that Chuck is back in the fold and Daryl Vaz and James Robertson, two prominent JLP members, remain out due to legal and diplomatic issues.

There were some new faces as well. These include Senators Marlene Malahoo Forte and Kamina Johnson Smith as well as neophyte politician, former Olympian Juliet Cuthbert, the caretaker/candidate for West Rural St Andrew.

"We are coming out of the difficulties and the challenges and you are looking at a more united party than before," asserted Holness.

The JLP leader of more than three years has been blamed in the past for squandering several opportunities to tidy up the divisive mess created by the acrimonious leadership election.

Holness prevailed over the spirited challenge of veteran politician Audley Shaw in 2013 that sparked a divisive row, although both men made up, with Shaw back in the driver's seat to steer finance.

In a council comprising six females, Fayval Williams will continue to assist Shaw. Holness described his choice as an adequate gender representation.

Henry, the blunt political veteran, gets back his old job of opposition spokesman on transport and works, in which he served not only as government minister but in opposition as well, under the Bruce Golding administration.

Spencer, a career industrial relations specialist, returns to speak on labour and public service, while Chuck retrieves his responsibility for justice and attorney general's portfolios.

Alexander Williams, who spoke on justice in Chuck's absence, has been shifted to examine land and the environment. Holness said this was intended to widen and expand Williams' scope of the political landscape.

Among other selections, Malahoo Forte is the new spokesperson on health, while Cuthbert has been appointed her deputy.

Holness warned that while the team reflects a balance between experience and youth, selections do not guarantee places in a Cabinet of a new JLP administration.

"This is not a reflection of what a JLP Cabinet will look like in power, and it should not be interpreted as such," he said.

JLP Council of Spokespersons

1) Andrew Holness - Leader of the Opposition/Development and Defence

2) Audley Shaw - Fayval Williams - Finance and Planning

3) Horace Chang - Water

4) Mike Henry - Transport and Works

5) Edmund Bartlett - Susan Leslie Bailey - Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

6) Derrick Smith - Pearnel Charles Jr - National Security

7) JC Hutchinson - Marlon Morgan - Agriculture and Fisheries

8) Desmond McKenzie - Local Government

9) Shahine Robinson - Delano Seivwright - Tourism

10) Karl Samuda - Industry, Investment and Commerce

11) Dr Andrew Wheatley - Floyd Green - Science, ICT, Digital Society

12) Pearnel Charles - Social Security

13) Delroy Chuck - Kent Gammon - Justice and Attorney General

14) Rudyard Spencer - Labour and Public Service

15) Senator Alexander Williams - Land and Environment

16) Senator Robert Montague - Duane Smith - Mining and Energy

17) Olivia Grange - Harold Malcolm - Information, Sports, Entertainment and Culture

18) Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith - Robert Morgan - Education and Youth

19) Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte - Juliet Cuthbert - Health and Healthy Lifestyle

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com