Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
A mixture of relief and anger has greeted the decision by controversial member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Everald Warmington to withdraw his application in the Supreme Court to bar the election of three of the party's four deputy leaders at today's annual conference.
While there is widespread agreement that Warmington is on the right side of the party's constitution, many within the organisation have taken issue with his decision to bring the matter into the public domain.
Warmington contended in his application for an injunction to block the election that under the party's constitution, Christopher Tufton, Audley Shaw, and Desmond McKenzie were not properly nominated to be elected JLP deputy leaders.
However, he opted to withdraw the application yesterday hours before it was expected to be heard in court.
In a swift reaction yesterday, Shaw welcomed the decision even as he raised questions about Warmington's motive.
According to Shaw and careful reading of the party's constitution, the related operation manual would show that all the leaders had been elected in breach of the rules.
"Mr Warmington cannot be selective in seeking to apply the constitution. There are breaches in virtually every post, so why is he being selective and targeting three senior members?" said Shaw.
"I am questioning seriously whether this was a matter of principle, or whether there is some ulterior motive," added Shaw.
targeting persons unfairly
He said it appears Warmington and those behind him are seeking to unfairly target some persons rather than looking to ensure that going forward, no one is elected in breach of the constitution.
"The party would be well advised not to allow Warmington and those behind him to hijack and derail the party. If I am not confirmed as a deputy leader at annual conference tomorrow (today), I am prepared to walk away as a deputy leader," Shaw warned.
Fellow deputy leader Tufton also indicated that he would be willing to walk away because of what he suspected was more about political positioning than any matter of principle.
"If the party is willing to allow the select application of the rules by persons with their agendas, then I'm willing to walk away," Tufton told The Sunday Gleaner as he also argued that most of the leadership of the party had been elected or selected in breach of aspects of the constitution
In the meantime, Ed Bartlett, one of the aspirants for the position of JLP chairman, welcomed Warmington's decision.
"It is a most unfortunate action, which should never happen, and thank goodness it is being resolved where it essentially should - within the party," asserted Bartlett.
"Indeed, we in the party must think deeply on this matter and resolve to ensure that this recourse is never again contemplated," he added.
Daryl Vaz, another senior JLP member, expressed outrage at Warmington's initial move.
Vaz suggested that while Warmington had withdrawn the application, his public action brought the JLP into disrepute and he should be sanctioned.
According to Vaz, he would not be attending conference today as a mark of protest.
"The time has finally come for the party to decide whether Mr Warmington is an independent MP or a JLP MP," declared Vaz.
"I could never in good conscience be a part of this attempt to bring Sir Alexander Bustamante's party into disrepute for people's personal agendas," he added.
"I will facilitate the JLP delegates of Western Portland's attendance, but I will not be attending on a position of respect for Bustamante's party that I have had the honour to serve and represent," asserted Vaz.
Stressing that he had no issue with Warmington or any member raising a constitutional or any other matter that warranted attention, Vaz argued that the matter could be handled internally.
"Annual conference, or Central Executive, the two highest bodies of the party, is the correct forum to do so," he argued.
"If one does not feel that they have received redress, then that is the appropriate time to consider a legal remedy through the courts."
Vaz was supported by another senior member, who agreed that the matter could have been addressed internally.
"There is no intention to muzzle any member, but there is a proper avenue to pursue when something is amiss," the JLP member argued while requesting that his name be withheld.
He suggested that as the most powerful force in the JLP, today's conference would have been the appropriate forum to address the issue, instead of bringing the party into disrepute.
"To be frank, Warmington's application appears to be vexatious and frivolous as the remedy that he seeks is vested in the annual conference, the forum in which the leader and deputy leaders are elected," the member contended.