Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness has accused his challenger Audley Shaw and the faction aligned to him of attempting to undermine the value of the Strategic Review Report in order to destabilise his plans to transform the organisation.
Holness described as "a categorical lie" claims by Shaw that he was unwilling to release the document in the public domain.
"I think they have made every attempt to undermine the reform of the Jamaica Labour Party, to then use it as an excuse to challenge, but I don't think that they have been successful... We have continued to do our work," declared Holness.
"I have always maintained that the JLP is not a private institution," he said. "It depends on the electorate, public support ... and the public has an interest in seeing what the party is doing to reform itself," said Holness.
VERY IMPORTANT TOOL
The JLP leader said he was always of the view that the report was a very important tool in bridging the gap between what the JLP and the public want the JLP to be, and that he communicated this to the party.
"Mr Shaw, from my recollection, remained quiet on the matter," said Holness. "That set off, in my mind, suspicion and caution at the same time."
He added: "So yes, we will have to release the report, there is no question about that. I can be clear that I was one of those who advocated the position that it was important that the public be made aware of our attempts to transform the party."
Holness said he had communicated to the Standing Committee that he felt that the public would understand what was in the report and what was contained was nothing new that the public did not already know, but it would be a structured compilation of the issues.
He said if it were not for his detractors, he would have made at least the executive summary public.
"I brought the high-level review, which was just completed, to the Standing Committee retreat in late January/early February and I read aspects of the report to the Standing Committee," Holness claimed.
He said a debate ensued among all officers of the party on whether the report should be released.
"Some members took the view that the report should not be released because it would give away our strategic advantage as to how we are going to position ourselves against the Government," said Holness.
Others, he said, took the view that the report should be released because the public would appreciate and understand what the party was attempting as the report would not be saying anything that the public did not already know.
"What it would do is show that the JLP is willing to carry out an introspection of itself and come to an acceptance of what its shortcomings are and be prepared to address them," said Holness.
He said others took the view that while this may be true, there was still a need to preserve strategic advantage so a summary of the report should be released, similar to what the PNP did in releasing a three-page document on the Brian Meeks report appraising that party's performance.
"The committee essentially agreed at that point, but we agreed on something else - that it would not be fair to release the report publicly before it could have cascaded through the various levels and the hierarchy of the party," said Holness.
He said it was agreed that the report would be released first to the officers, and then that would be filtered down to the area councils after which all the agents of the party.