Having effectively relinquished his deputy post, Audley Shaw has as good as given an irrevocable commitment to challenge Andrew Holness for the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). In that regard, we place little store by Mr Shaw's claims that he is engaging in consultations before arriving at a decision.
Indeed, if he doesn't go forward, Mr Shaw should be aware that he will be cast, by those who back him, as a wimp who gets cold feet in the clutch.
They will recall 2005 when he failed to contest Bruce Golding for the party's top position, after Edward Seaga was prized from his long incumbency. Then two years ago, after the implosion of the Golding leadership, Mr Shaw was among those who backed out of the race, allowing Mr Holness' anointing by consensus.
Any similar action now will also bring the added criticism that Mr Shaw has put his party through the stress of highlighting internal divisions, without the potential benefits therefrom - settling the leadership and policy issues.
In any event, a leadership race at this time would possibly have value for the JLP, and if he retains the job, Mr Holness - or whoever emerges.
First, it is three years before an election is constitutionally due in Jamaica. That provides enough time for the JLP to engage in a robust internal debate on policy and/or leadership style and for the person who wins the contest to fashion a cohesive organisation with which to go to the polls.
As for Mr Holness and his prospective challenger(s), a contested leadership selection would provide the winner with the unquestioned legitimacy that comes only via the ballot box, of which Mr Holness was robbed when he became the party's choice by acquiescent consensus.
People, including Mr Shaw, who had their eyes on the job, didn't concede to Mr Holness because they felt that he was the better leader for the JLP, or Jamaica. Rather, the party's grey suits responded to opinion polls that suggested, in the wake of the Golding debacle, that Mr Holness, young and largely unmarked by Jamaica's historically tribalist political culture, was the JLP politician with the best chance of leading the party to an election victory.
Mr Holness did not achieve that goal in admittedly very difficult circumstances. Nor has he been able, it seems, to stamp his authority on the party. His critics claim that his leadership is unfocused, effete and absent of clear policy direction.
The JLP's delegates will get an opportunity to make a determination of these claims - an effort which we support, but with a proviso.
While we expect a spirited campaign, it must have its foundation in serious issues.
Mr Shaw, and whoever else may now throw his hat in the ring - we recommend any other who genuinely believes he is the best person to lead to do so - should say what they would do differently to Mr Holness and why, disclosing the specific qualities he would bring to leadership.
This debate must be beyond populist spiel and the dishing of dirt. The JLP should re-emerge a stronger, united, democratic party, better able to serve Jamaica.
For this, we hold Mr Holness to his word and look to Mr Shaw's.
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