Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
THE 70-year-old Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in is dire need of repair, Audley Shaw has told Labourites, arguing that a failure to address systemic weaknesses in the organisation could see it in Opposition for a long time.
"Deep down, I know that something is wrong with the JLP and if we don't repair and renew the party structures, we can kiss the next general election goodbye," Shaw said.
Shaw, who was addressing Labourites during one of his consultation meetings at the Claude McKay High School in James Hill, North Clarendon, on Saturday night, said he will announce "in a couple of day's time", whether he will be challenging Andrew Holness for leadership of the party.
The JLP has won only two general elections since 1980, spending 18 and a half years in Opposition between 1989 and 2007, when Bruce Golding led it to a slim four-seat win. However, after being in Government for four years, Andrew Holness led the party into defeat, crashing 21-42 in the 63-seat House of Representatives.
Holness had taken over the JLP seven months earlier, following the sudden resignation of Golding.
Not for personal gain
Shaw, who has held the North East Manchester seat for the JLP since 1993, said he is not being driven by personal passion to lead the party, which he said is malfunctioning and is in need of urgent repairs and renewal.
He said he has twice refrained from challenging for the leadership of the party, but hinted that the overwhelming support from Labourites may cause him to throw his hat in the ring.
"As I made my due diligence in consulting with delegates, I have been told ... Audley, 'your time has come'! It isn't my own personal ambition to run. It is the overwhelming support I am getting from Labourites," Shaw said.
He added: "I didn't challenge Bruce Golding in 2005 to lead the JLP because of a number of reasons, notwithstanding that, Mr Golding went over to lead the NDM (National Democratic Movement), and again in 2011, I decided not to challenge Mr Holness, because the consensus then was that he should lead the party. And as they say, the rest is history," Shaw said.
The JLP has been soundly beaten in national elections under the leadership of Holness. He lost both the general election and the local government elections by 1:2 ratios.
Shaw's leadership of Area Council Three, which he leads as deputy leader, is by no means more stellar as the JLP won only five of 14 seats in the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon, and St Ann.