Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Noted political historian Troy Caine is asserting that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has set a precedent with its decision to not convene a customarily grand public session at its annual conference next month, a move that appears to have grabbed the support of the leadership base of the 69-year-old organisation.
"It is unusual as it is usually the other way around," Caine told The Gleaner yesterday, suggesting that the two major political parties in the past were more inclined to cut down on the private session in favour of the public meeting.
"It's a cost-related consideration and I suspect that they think it would be more practical not to expend its (scarce) resources on a public session," said Caine, who has enjoyed a close association with the JLP over many years.
But while the move is out of the ordinary, Caine suggested that it was both constitutional and practical.
"I can't recall hearing of any of the major parties taking this route, but objectively, there is no reason to garner mass support as nothing can be gained by having a big show," he said.
"What is clear is that it is a cost-cutting operation and it is understandable that the party is in a cost-cutting mode after an expensive election … . The best strategy is to reserve energy for nearer to an election," argued Caine.
His sentiments have been echoed by leaders in the JLP, who stressed that rather than incurring unnecessary expenses at this time, the focus must be on recreating and strengthening the party which suffered a massive beating in the 2011 general election last year at the hands of the now-governing People's National Party.
"For the JLP, this is a demonstration of the austerity that is needed in governance," one party stalwart, who asked that he not be identified, told The Gleaner. "There is no point in any public display of support at this time. What is required is a sober reflection on the weaknesses in the party's positional structure and the serious economic challenges facing the country."
The Gleaner was informed that the JLP Strategic Review Committee, which was commissioned by the party in the aftermath of its devastating election loss, would release its report for review ahead of the new format annual conference.
Caine is of the view that the central issue influencing the conference is the consolidation of Andrew Holness' position as leader of the JLP.
"Mr Holness is going to have to consolidate his leadership of the party, which has been in some doubt - especially since the elections - in the minds and eyes of the public," Caine argued.