Like Daryl Vaz, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) parliamentarian, we are concerned at the emerging tone of the campaign for leadership of the JLP, in which Audley Shaw is challenging the incumbent, Andrew Holness.
Some senior party figures who support Mr Holness have characterised Mr Shaw's action as almost treasonous. Such behaviour is objectionable, especially in a supposedly democratic party. It does little to advance ideas and, at best, makes murky the issues on which delegates will choose between the candidates.
As the challenger, though, the greater burden in making a case rests with Mr Shaw.
He must explain the flaws of Mr Holness' leadership and what he would, instead, bring to the job to advance the cause of the JLP and Jamaica.
Mr Shaw's perspective on the economy is central to any such debate. Not only is he now the shadow finance minister, but he held the portfolio when the JLP was in Government for four years up to the end of 2011.
During that time, Mr Shaw negotiated an economic support agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which soon derailed. He has criticised the new Government's agreement with the Fund, belittling the administration's successful meeting of its first quarterly targets under the pact.
As leader of the party and prime minister-in-waiting, Mr Shaw would not only have influence, but great control over the fashioning of the JLP's economic policy. In this debate, therefore, he must outline how that policy would be different from the current Government's, as well as explain why his agreement with the IMF failed.
CONFRONTING DEBT CRISIS
A critical issue in this discourse is whether, in the circumstance, Mr Shaw perceives a non-IMF path for Jamaica and whether he has the willingness and courage to enforce the fiscal discipline required to confront the country's crisis of debt.
Mr Shaw's approval of wage increases to teachers and health workers and an undisclosed $11-billion commitment for the purchase of buses make such questions pertinent.
But demanding answers from Mr Shaw does not presume a pass for Mr Holness, the first leader of a major Jamaican political party who was born after the country's Independence in 1962.
JLP supporters, and Jamaicans generally, are yet to hear from Mr Holness a full, lucid analysis of his party's sound electoral defeat months after he became leader and having initially been embraced as a kind of post-partisan figure.
Mr Holness also has to answer his critics about his seeming failure in the post-election period to rejuvenate the party and offer bold, new, big ideas for revitalising Jamaica.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: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.