THE EDITOR, Sir:
Since political parties are national institutions and not private clubs, we expect the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to have a greater appreciation for democracy. But it is well known that internecine conflicts are a major part of the party's history. The present conflict stems from the perception that Mr Andrew Holness is a weak leader who is unable to mobilise a disenchanted populace; therefore, he should be challenged by someone like Audley Shaw, who has the ability to entertain both the business elites and the masses. Some even claim that a vociferous leader is needed to confront the current administration; hence, the mild-mannered Holness is not the right man for the job.
Many may not want to admit this troubling fact, but Jamaicans are not ready to accept a leader with Holness' disposition because we have grown to accept vulgarity as a common feature of leadership. Politicians that refuse to appeal to the lowest denominator or those who fail to promote 'badness' are often castigated. So it can be argued that contempt for Holness isdue to his conciliatory nature.If Mr Holness is really transformational, then he should seek to distance himself from the comments of his supporters who espouse undemocratic ideals; if he does not, then he will give weight to the argument that he is weak and indecisive. Furthermore, Holness should articulate his plans for his party and the country more effectively. It would also be welcomed if he outlined a political philosophy for the Labour Party; it is not good enough to say that Labour supports anything that works.
The inability of the Jamaica Labour Party to coalesce around a set of core values has been one of its major shortfalls; the party's ideals seems to be those of the leader. Holness must also resist the temptation to align the Labour Party with populist philosophies. The opposition leader has the potential to become Jamaica's Margaret Thatcher. Based on his speeches, we know he has conservative views. Unfortunately, the young politician's perceived inability to control the dissidents in his party may indicate to the electorate that he was never transformational, but rather a fraud that is unable to grasp the nettle. Audley, on the other hand, should prove to the Jamaican people that his desire to challenge the incumbent leader goes beyond hype. Being able to stir up the masses is a good trait for a leader, but, at this time, having what some analysts call 'fire in the belly' is not enough.
Shaw should outline feasible long-term proposals for the country if he wants to be taken seriously. Confronting his many critics and reminding citizens about some of his achievements during his stint as the minister of finance could establish him as a credible candidate, but if he yields to temptation by engaging in mudslinging like the members in Mr Transformational's camp, then we will know that he is just a 'bag of noise'. The People's National Party (PNP) cannot afford to be too happy about the absence of a suitable opposition, because its failings are so loud that they speak for themselves.
Many may not want to admit this troubling fact, but Jamaicans are not ready to accept a leader with Holness' disposition because we have grown to accept vulgarity as a common feature of leadership.