Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Likely leadership aspirant Audley Shaw has moved to dispel suggestions that he will be walking away from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) if he fails in his bid to take its helm.
Shaw signaled, in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, that he has no intention of quitting politics at this time.
"Absolutely not. It would be the judgement of the leader in that capacity to ask me to work," he said.
His announcement, two weeks ago, that he would not be seeking re-election as deputy leader for the JLP's Area Council Three fuelled speculation that he intended to call it a day if he was not successful in his leadership bid.
"We have to learn a lot from the People's National Party (PNP). Over the last 25 years, the PNP had been in power for 21. They have had three contests for leader of the PNP, we have had none, and yet the PNP can be seen as a more vibrant party than the JLP."
PLACE FOR HOLNESS
Shaw also disclosed that he would have a place for the current leader of the JLP, Andrew Holness, if he were to assume the throne.
"Mr Holness is a bright young man and he has come far in the party in a relatively short time … . Of course, there has to be room for everyone."
He also expressed confidence that he will be able to unite the fractious party.
"That is why they call me 'Man a Yard'," Shaw said with a chuckle.
He said he learnt a valuable lesson in this regard from former JLP leader Edward Seaga.
"Ironically, the person who told me this many years ago was Edward Seaga. He says malice is a negative thing and it takes away from your energy, and he said, 'Don't malice; don't carry malice', and it's something that I have practised."
Shaw said he has had to bear the brunt of malicious comments and has learned to deal with them.
"People say things about me. Sometimes the people who say things about me don't even know me, but they say bad things because of politics."
Added Shaw: " When I hear even my colleagues have derogatory things to say about me, … . I have malice towards no one, and I believe that if I run and become the leader of the party, it's not going to be an easy task to unite this party, but it has to start somewhere."
Shaw also characterised as juvenile the tendency of some detractors to label colleagues in his camp as 'National Democratic Movement'.
He also said it was nonsensical to try to label him as a PNP supporter because he flirted with the party at age 17.
Asked what he would say to members of the JLP, ahead of his broadcast, Shaw said: "I would encourage the people of my party to enjoy democracy … as I have been around this country and I have been to every parish, I feel an excitement developing around Labourites."