Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
"IT'S MY generation now! We must stand up and take charge of our country. I am sick and tired of them! They must go!" declared an uncharacteristically impassioned leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness as he addressed the party's annual conference yesterday.
After unleashing his fury on the Portia Simpson Miller administration for failing to ink a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Holness donned his party hat and turned his wrath on recalcitrant forces in the JLP that led to a near court action on Saturday.
He noted that there were some members who believed that the party is available to serve their narrow self-interest. "I am sick and tired of those people. None of that anymore! I have been patient, but none of that anymore," he declared to rousing applause.
"Now is work time and those who have an issue, leave!" declared Holness.
The usually mild-mannered politician chastised the Government for its failure to hammer out an IMF deal, nearly a year after being victorious at the polls, on a promise Simpson Miller made during the leadership debate that a deal could have been inked in record time.
Holness also flailed the Government for being evasive when they face the people and play politics by accusing the JLP of criticising the Government on a sensitive issue. He warned that his team would not be silenced.
"Nobody is going to silence us from making our points in a significant way. I know the sensitive nature of the financial market, but I know the plight of the people," he declared. "As Opposition, we have a duty to protect Jamaica."
Holness also sounded a rallying cry to delegates to rise up for party and nation.
Asserting that poverty has reached unprecedented heights, Holness called for a widening of the benefits and beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education as he addressed delegates at yesterday's annual conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
He promised that a JLP administration, under his leadership, would reform Jamaica. "We are going to introduce comprehensive reform of this country to ensure that the poor are provided for," he asserted.
"It is better to pay youths to stay in school than for policemen to throw them in jail. It is better to pay them than to allow the devil to find work for idle hands.
"Today, I want, as a party, to talk about the working-class people, the Jamaica Labour Party must return to its roots," Holness declared. "Today, the party must reclaim that support base that we have always had," he asserted.
Proclaiming that founder of the JLP, Alexander Bustamante, was the original champion of the poor of the country, Holness declared: now more than ever, Jamaica needs a champion of the working class once again.
In unleashing a barb at Simpson Miller, Holness declared: "It's one thing to kiss baby and say I love you ... many of those babies are adults and they can say they have not seen any changes. There is so much apathy ... given the resources with which we are blessed, we should not have anyone languishing in abject poverty."
Holness asserted that while it was the Government's prerogative to review the free-user-fee policy in public facilities, "but after that, you make sure you don't take away the rights of the people ... . I am making it my mission, we will come again, we will run this country again and sooner than you think".