Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
After the explosive outbursts that shattered the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) celebration of its by-election victory during last Monday's sitting of its Standing Committee, efforts are now under way to prevent the party from imploding.
JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, who is one of the point persons in keeping the party together, says his focus, in the coming days, is to move with care to clean up the mess created by the uproar at the meeting of the Standing Committee.
"My objective will be to hold the party together and dispel rumours and allegation," Chang told The Sunday Gleaner.
"My position as general secretary is first to maintain that unity and cohesion of the party and its structure on the way forward," added Chang, as he admitted that he has heard of a possible challenge to party leader Andrew Holness come November.
However, Chang stressed that he has received no formal nomination or confirmation of any challenge.
"We need to find out what is the basis for the allegations and rumours, because that is what they are now," said Chang.
"It came at a bad time because we should be focusing on how we pulled the Cassia Park division (by-election) together and how we are going to present our theme for (annual) conference in November."
But while he stressed that without a declaration or any other indicator he was unable to confirm or deny that there is any leadership challenge, Chang conceded that he has his work cut out over the next few days.
"I have to be cautious in how I operate, but of course my views will be expressed to the party.
"I believe that if we unite and act as a cohesive team, we can take back government," added Chang.
He was supported by other senior party members who argued that this it is not the right time for any leadership challenge.
"There is a mood among supporters that what they want is to get together in a cohesive and united manner, that is the mood of the workers who talk to me," said one senior party member who asked not to be named.
But that position is not supported by Delano Seiveright, a past president of the JLP's young professional affiliate, Generation 2000.
"After 70 long years, the delegates of the JLP must by ballot box elect their leader.
"The days of anointed ones and one dons are over, the elite status quo of 70 years is obsolete and has resulted in far too many problems," charged Seiveright.
'It's not right'
"You simply can't have four or five people deciding who leads a major political party with thousands of members. It's not right," added Seiveright in reference the deal which was brokered to usher Holness to the party's top job in 2011.
According to Seiveright, modern political parties the world over elect their leaders through constitutional elections.
"Barack Obama, for example, worked hard to win over enough Democratic delegates in a gruelling contest with party titan Hillary Clinton; he went on to become president."
Seiveright argued that an internal election in the JLP would allow the leader to lead with confidence, command respect and assemble a team that he is most comfortable with.
He said party members would then appreciate that the leader was elected by the ballot box and, as such, more likely to respect his or her leadership.
"It's a real win-win for all, it's true democracy at work," argued Seiveright, even as he accepted that pitfalls exist.
"The party is evolving and we have never handled challenges very well, and although it is better than 40 years ago, it is still a challenge, and a challenge can damage the structure of the party."