Former finance minister confirms he's mulling decision to run for leadership of JLP
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
After much speculation, former Finance Minister Audley Shaw has officially confirmed he is considering a challenge to former Prime Minister Andrew Holness for the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Shaw's clearest indication yet of his political ambition was revealed in a missive he sent to JLP Chairman Robert Montague, dated Friday, August 23, 2013, and which he released to the media yesterday.
The JLP's deputy leader in charge of Area Council Three also revealed that on his return to the island early last week, he "respectfully" met with the party leader and verbally informed him of his intentions.
However, the letter to the chairman contained what some political pundits might describe as veiled swipes at the quality of Holness' leadership style and tenure, as well as the manner in which the party leader was ushered into the party's highest seat back in 2011.
"Truth be told, as an elected officer and long-serving member of this great Jamaica Labour Party, I, too, have concerns on how we have been proceeding in Opposition since the last set of national elections," Shaw wrote.
He added: "It is my view that we have an opportunity now, three years before national elections are constitutionally due, to engage in a period of re-evaluation and recalibration of the way forward, giving our party delegates the opportunity to lend their voices to how they would like to see their party proceed."
Shaw, who was finance minister during the last JLP administration, which struggled to guide the nation through a worldwide recession and failed to live up to its commitments under the previous agreement with the International Monetary Fund, said he could not deny "the disappointment and unfulfilled expectations our limited electoral success over the last 25 years has had on our supporters".
Shaw wrote: "It has hampered and frustrated the realisation of our stated vision, but more so our capacity to make the qualitative difference that Jamaicans deserve and our delegates expect."
He said he intended to use his experience to offer guidance on how the JLP should proceed because he saw that as a "critical personal responsibility at this time".
Said Shaw: "Mr Chairman, after discussions with family members and close associates, I have decided to give serious and studied consideration to the possibility of offering myself for the position of leader of the Jamaica Labour Party. It is my intention to engage in a process of consultation with delegates and key workers within the party islandwide. Thereafter, with God's blessings and guidance, I will make a decision on my role going forward in the best interest of our party and country."
The usually fiery politician, oft referred to as 'Man A Yard' and known for his biting political speeches, assured the chairman that he intended to go about the process in a cordial and dignified manner, always giving due consideration, care and respect to the JLP's leadership structure and constitution.
Speculation of an Audley Shaw challenge has been growing, especially following the cancellation of Monday night's Standing Committee meeting in the aftermath of last week's chaotic session where the matter was discussed.
Shaw is expected to announce his decision to challenge Holness at a party meeting in Clarendon today.
Efforts to get a comment from Shaw, Montague and Dr Horace Chang, general secretary of the JLP, were yesterday unsuccessful. The party officials did not return calls.
When The Sunday Gleaner contacted Holness, he said he was busy, but did not respond to subsequent calls.