Real 'Man A Yaad' - Holness clobbers Shaw to remain JLP leader
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
THE DELEGATES of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) yesterday spoke loudly and convincingly with their ballots as they cemented incumbent Andrew Holness in the top seat by a majority of 692 votes, a position he has occupied for little more than two years since he was anointed by former leader Bruce Golding to succeed him.
When the votes were announced, Holness polled 2,704 to Shaw's 2,012.
The 4,716 delegates who voted appeared to have been in a hurry to end the race, registering their votes in large numbers from the polling booths were opened at 7:30 a.m.
Shaw launched his campaign for leadership nearly two months ago, claiming that Holness was incapable of leading the victory over the People's National Party (PNP).
Holness said the victory represents "vindication, not just for me but for many other persons within the party".
He warned the governing PNP that the JLP is rebuilding, renewing and is preparing to be the next Government.
He, however, declared that an immediate step now is to heal the party.
"Unity starts with the leader and this leader commits to you, the delegates of the party, that I will do everything within my power to make sure that the party is united," Holness said.
And Shaw has committed himself to being a part of the healing process.
"I say to my leader, I am willing and ready to rebuild the Labour Party to bring back love and unity to the Labour Party, onward to victory," said Shaw, who appeared shocked not to have made it into the winner's enclosure.
Just before midday, a key organiser of the Shaw campaign, Warren Newby, rushed into the tent where supporters loyal to Shaw were gathered, delivering a message that triggered a premature rapturous celebration of victory.
Even the former deputy leader, called 'Man A Yaad', appeared to have been swept away, basking on cloud nine when news spread like wildfire that he had crushed his rival in the leadership race.
Said Shaw: "We did a very careful canvas. We checked it, we double checked it, then we transported them to the arena and they came and voted. We have won, I can tell you that. We have votes from Babsy's (Olivia Grange) seat, (Everald) Warmington's seat, (Andrew) Wheatley's seats, Tivoli Gardens; we got votes from Andrew Holness' seat, more than 30 votes from West Central St Andrew."
But jubilation for Shaw was short-lived as another celebration emerged close to 1 p.m. This time, it was the Holness camp which switched on the festivity that seemed to have sapped the energy from Shaw's supporters, leaving them in a visibly sombre mood.
In his concession speech, Shaw struggled to connect with a throng of Holness supporters who greeted him with disapproval as they booed the former deputy leader.
Daryl Vaz, a key organiser of the Shaw campaign, said their canvas saw their candidate polling between 2,500 and 2,700 votes.
"The delegates have spoken and there can be no argument about the legitimacy of the leader. The mandate has been given to the leader and, therefore, there is no second-guessing," Vaz said.
Shaw has already indicated he would be resigning as shadow finance minister, and Vaz said he expects all spokespersons who supported the Shaw campaign to do likewise.
"You can't support someone against the leader, lose and not give him his space. It is a matter of principle," Vaz said.
Meanwhile, yesterday's voting was almost marred by an incident in which a throng of Holness' supporters converged on the registration centre, which caused Orrette Fisher, director of elections, to withdraw his staff from their positions for about 15 minutes.
Speaking with reporters, Fisher said a number of persons converged on the registration centre, surrounding his staff "who did not feel adequately secured, and so we temporarily withdrew the staff until they managed to clear the area and so the staff went back to complete the process".
Faces of victory and defeat at the Jamaica Labour Party annual conference at the National Arena in St Andrew where incumbent Andrew Holness whipped challenger Audley Shaw by 692 votes to retain the post of party leader.