We take the race for the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) seriously. The competitors should do likewise. Or, put another way, there should be a larger purpose to being at the helm of the party than merely for the power and prestige of leadership.
Unfortunately, that is not the sense we get from either Audley Shaw, the challenger, or Andrew Holness, the incumbent. Which makes it important to place the issue into perspective.
For nearly 70 years, with the People's National Party (PNP), the JLP has alternated in government. While Jamaica has maintained a relatively vibrant but sometimes stressed democracy, our economic performance has been horrible, attested to by more than 40 years of anaemic economic growth.
This race between Mr Holness and Mr Shaw is taking place at a time when Jamaica's pit-sized, unsustainable national debt has forced the Simpson Miller administration, under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), into a programme of fiscal austerity, demanding great discipline if it is to yield positive results. Which makes the Shaw-Holness context significant.
Both were part of the administration which started, but abandoned, a similar IMF programme when the JLP formed the Government up to 2011. Mr Shaw was the finance minister on whose watch that programme faltered.
Our concern is that the campaign has, so far, been about personality, style and form rather than matters of substance. The greater burden, as the challenger, rests with Mr Shaw.
As we so far know, he wants Mr Holness' job so as to be the Government's worse nightmare. Mr Holness is not, politically, sufficiently ghoulish. That, insofar as we are aware, is neither policy nor a big idea.
If Mr Holness' failure to frighten the Government implies acquiescence to, or agreement with, the administration's programmes, it is for Mr Shaw to articulate the JLP's alternatives under his leadership.
He must declare a credible strategy for lowering the debt, narrowing the fiscal deficit, and generating growth, with the process being painful to Jamaicans, which he seems to suggest being possible.
Further, it would be useful for Mr Shaw, given his past experience with the organisation, to indicate what role he believes the IMF should now play in Jamaica and what his posture would be towards the Fund if he was leader of the JLP and prime minister.
Jamaicans will want to be assured, too, that in tormenting the Government, as legitimate as that is in the practice of democracy, it will not be accomplished at the expense of the country's fragile socio-political cohesion and the prospects for economic stability.
At the same time, Mr Holness should be clear that incumbency is not a privilege to silence or excuse for intellectual sloth. His leadership, inclusive of a little over two months as prime minister and two and a half years in Opposition, has been marked, primarily, by humdrum and an absence of substantive ideas.
There is no certainty about the direction in which he wishes to take the JLP. Nor can any action of his be interpreted as an effort to give expression to something that may be in his mind.
Both he and Mr Shaw need to convince Jamaicans that theirs is no longer the party whose leader would stake his career on the future of a Christopher Coke.
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