Political analyst Dr Hume Johnson, commenting on the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) looming leadership race, is of the view that a combination of negotiation and an internal election was appropriate and should be expected at the party's annual conference next month. At that much anticipated conference, a successor for outgoing Prime Minister Bruce Golding will be selected.
However, she stressed the the party must be allowed to elect a leader democratically.
Johnson cited what she characterised as extraordinary events which took place since the JLP took office, including the imposition of new taxes on basic commodities, the controversial sale of Air Jamaica, the chaos surrounding the extradition of Christopher Coke and the Manatt issue,
"A new leader will be tasked with rebuilding a fractured and fractious Labour Party, gain the confidence of the Jamaican people and reshape the image of the JLP and prove it a viable organisation to govern for a further five years - all this in time to contest a general election," said Johnson.
"In a context of gross mistrust in political leadership, the leadership mettle of the new JLP leader would be tested. To simply hand-pick a leader would be not only undemocratic but counterproductive," she added.
One JLP insider insisted that money was not going to decide this contest. "It is the consensus among the three top contenders as to who is best suited to lead," he asserted. "They will not be able to buy the delegates."
With the nomination period far from over, there is no knowing what may happen in the coming days.
"We saw this coming when the prime minister announced his plans not to seek re-election in November," declared a prominent supporter of Audley Shaw who was instrumental in the meeting at the home of Harold Brady last week.
"We may have succeeded but for Daryl Vaz's (information minister) outburst at the Standing Committee meeting," The Sunday Gleaner was told. "We just cannot afford to have a contest at this time, it would be very divisive."
It was Vaz who told the Standing Committee meeting of the gathering the previous night. The Standing Committee meeting descended into chaos after James Robertson, Andrew Holness and Karl Samuda were accused of being engaged in a conspiracy.
This forced Holness, one of the favourites in the race, to rush to the media to explain that he had no hand in initiating any meeting and was simply an invitee.
It was revealed that an unknowing Holness had been invited to the meeting to be asked to step aside to make way for Shaw.
For his part, Shaw, who was overseas at the time, later distanced himself from the meeting at Brady's home.
The current crowded field is reminiscent of 2005 when former JLP leader Edward Seaga announced his retirement from representational politics, seven persons emerged in the early stages, but acrimonious infighting gave way to consultations and Golding emerged as his successor.
A similar scenario emerged a year later when the then president of the People's National Party, P.J. Patterson, stepped down.
There were six expressions of interest, but as the date of the elections emerged, Chairman Robert Pickersgill and former Region 3 head honcho, Paul Burke, withdrew from the race, leaving four to contest the election.
The Sunday Gleaner was told that the move to initiate the meeting was spurred by urgency to quash any likelihood of divisiveness and the need to protect the financial situation in the international arena.
"It was for this reason why we were paying attention to Shaw," the source said. "He has developed sufficient respect in the (local) financial sector and he is the best campaigner."
stay in the shadows
The meeting had reportedly asked Holness to stay in the shadows of Shaw and he would have been a close 'number two' (deputy) until such time when he would take the reins.
The source who attended the meeting told The Sunday Gleaner that Holness rejected the proposal.
Despite Shaw's proximity to the business sector, sources in the party say the commercial interests are backing Tufton.
Another prominent JLP insider also claimed that Tufton's "supreme popularity" among corporate Jamaica is replicated across the nation.
It's understood that both Tufton and Shaw were impressive last week on their overseas visit, but commercial interests are wary about Shaw's combative persona.
Both Tufton and Shaw appear to have their work cut out to defeat Holness who continues to lead the two in popular support on the ground by a significant margin, according to the range of poll findings over the past two years.
✔ Rebuilding a fractured and fractious Labour Party
✔ Gain the confidence of the Jamaican people
✔ Reshape the image of the JLP
✔ Prove itself a viable organisation to govern for a further five years
✔ Effectively contest the general election