Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
A fresh row is brewing in the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) over a the date for the 2013 Annual Conference, where almost 5,000 delegates are set to elect a leader for the 70-year-old organisation.
Yesterday, Audley Shaw, the challenger to JLP leader Andrew Holness, did not attend a hastily arranged officers' meeting, which was reportedly called to decide if the conference should take place on November 10 as decided at an officers' meeting on Monday.
"Any attempt to further change this date will be strenuously resisted on the basis that even as we speak, there is still not a settled delegates list, which is, in part, due to your failure to rigidly follow the guidelines laid down by the Standing Committee in relation to how the lists should be accredited," Shaw wrote in a letter to JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang.
Shaw declared that he could not attend the meeting because he was in his constituency, but argued that the officers had already decided on the November 10 date.
Repeated efforts to make contact with Chang failed yesterday.
Since the 1990s, the JLP Annual Conference has been traditionally held the third weekend in November.
But the leadership of the party proposed that the date be brought forward to prevent a protracted campaign.
A new date was initially set for November 3, but it is understood this was changed because the National Indoor Sports Centre would not be available.
ANOTHER DATE THROWN OUT
October 17 was also proposed through a motion, but this was thrown out at Monday's officers' meeting.
In a correspondence obtained by The Gleaner yesterday, Chang stated that the signing of a proposed code of conduct for the internal elections had been postponed.
He told officers that Shaw had to travel to Holmwood Technical High School to give support to the grieving school community, following an accident which claimed the lives of four students on Wednesday.
However, in a quick response, Shaw noted to Chang that the email inviting him to the officers' meeting was sent at 12:27 p.m. - less than two hours before the meeting was scheduled to begin.
"As you are aware, I reside in Christiana and also have a schedule," stated Shaw. "Therefore, with only an hour and a half's notice, I assume you did not expect me to come," he added.
"I wish to remind you that if the purpose of this meeting is to, once again, attempt to revisit the conference date, it will be strongly resisted by me and other officers who were present at the officers' meeting on Monday.
"I expect fairness, honour and decency to prevail in this matter. Nothing less will be acceptable," he concluded.