Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
TWO OF the more successful Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) stalwarts are eyeing the influential chairmanship position of the 69-year-old organisation, but are adamant they will not participate in an electoral contest that could open old wounds in the party.
Former JLP General Secretary Karl Samuda and former Deputy Leader for Area Council One Derrick Smith have welcomed the invitation from party members to assume the mantle of chairmanship of the JLP, but both want to be unilaterally offered the position, in keeping with the custom of the party.
"I am not interested in a competition for the chairmanship. I don't want to be associated with anything that has the potential to be divisive," asserted Smith.
Samuda appeared just as unyielding in his pronouncement.
"While I am willing to serve the party in any capacity, I am not, on any account, willing to enter into any contest within the party."
Already, there appears to be an intense battle for the post of general secretary between two other JLP stalwarts - Joan Gordon-Webley and Dr Horace Chang.
While both veteran politicians, who have in the past held influential positions in the JLP, maintained they are well suited for the chairmanship position, they suggested they are beyond the cut and thrust of divisive electioneering at such a sensitive stage in the JLP's history.
"The party needs an individual who is mature, politically successful, a clam and has a pleasant and balanced personality, along with a winner," Smith said. "I am saying that I have all of those attributes."
By his pronouncements, Samuda is also of the view that he is the best man for the job. "I think that having served for seven years as general secretary and having been the second person to carry the JLP into victory for over 30 years, qualifies me to hold almost any position within the party."
Samuda insisted that the post of chairman is, customarily, not a contested position. "It is not a post for which intense campaigning has ever taken place within the party, except in one instance. It is usually held by senior people who have served over many years."
Smith appeared convinced that he possesses the expertise to stabilise the JLP at this juncture. He stressed that he had been able to stave off controversies during his political career. "I have been in politics for three decades and my track record speaks for itself, I have never been involved in anything controversial and I have never been accused of doing anything to create controversy, discredit the party or bring it into disrepute," said Smith.