EDITORIAL - JLP must obey its constitution

Published: Wednesday | November 21, 2012 Comments 0

Given his own history, it perhaps rankles that Everald Warmington is now pretending to have the moral high ground and insisting that the constitution of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was breached in the election of at least three of the party's four deputy leaders.

A natural reaction in the circumstance is to ask of the whereabouts of Mr Warmington's moral compass during the nearly four years he sat in the last Parliament in breach of Jamaica's Constitution, which denies membership to anyone who, "by virtue of ... [his] own act", is "under acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence" to a foreign power.

It is reasonable to assume that a man of Mr Warmington's vintage could not have been ignorant of his own position, before renouncing his allegiance to the United States in the first quarter of 2011. And if he didn't grasp the issue during prior stints in the legislature, by the time he re-entered the House in 2007, the public debate of dual citizenship, given the case of his JLP colleague, Daryl Vaz, and others, was so intense that he couldn't have been unaware. Unless, of course, Mr Warmington is today's Rip Van Winkle.

WARMINGTON HAS A POINT

But whatever we may think about Mr Warmington's moral and other ethics with regard to his behaviour in the House, he appears to have a point.

Audley Shaw, one of the deputy leaders whose election was challenged by Mr Warmington, concedes that the rules were not followed with regard to the nomination of candidates.

"There are breaches in virtually every post ... ," Mr Shaw told this newspaper.

The complaint of Mr Shaw, and others, is threefold: that Mr Warmington was selective in his challenges; that he threatened to go to court with the matter rather than, they claim, seeking to resolve the issue within the councils of the JLP. There are also whispers in some JLP quarters that Mr Warmington was a stalking horse for others wanting to challenge Mr Andrew Holness' leadership of the JLP.

On these issues we, at this time, offer no comment.

BREACHES ENDEMIC TO PARTY

We are, however, concerned that a major political party which has held political power in Jamaica - and hopes to again do - conducts its business in such slipshod manner that "there are breaches in virtually every post".

It is reasonable to ask whether such loose adherence to the JLP's constitution informs the party's approach to government and governance, as well as the attitudes of party leaders who tolerated, long after the settlement of the Vaz matter, the illegitimate occupation of parliamentary benches by four other members, including Mr Warmington.

Nor would it be unreasonable, we believe, for people to question whether this casual, undisciplined observance of party rules plays into the attitudes towards the laws, and the rules for public order, promulgated by the State.

While we raise such questions of the JLP, we do not mean them to be exclusively for that party. Mere weeks ago, after The Gleaner had broke the story about ineligibility, the People's National Party moved to disqualify an unspecified number of persons who had been nominated for its Regional Executive Council elections.

In the most recent case, however, the JLP must declare how it intends to regularise its elections, if indeed they were flawed, and ensure such problems do not recur.

The matter is larger than the immediate circumstance.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

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