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JLP bomb ticks in the shadows: Party battles to mend open wounds, 'Gang of 2013' makes demands, 'veiled threat'

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The post-traumatic effects of the hostile leadership challenge within the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) are expected to develop into a full-blown malady today after the stage was firmly set yesterday for a renewed battle between the camps of the victorious Andrew Holness and conquered candidate, Audley Shaw.

Despite the rhetoric from both sides on the need for unity, the JLP was like a ticking bomb as the protracted rift in the party visibly widened over the past 24 hours. Fresh allegations released by both camps threatened to erupt in the tense atmosphere late yesterday.

Political commentator Paul Ashley is warning that another gang has been established in the JLP.

"If you look at the history of the JLP, it has been prone to gangs, and this is another. This is the Gang of 2013," he declared in reference to the Audley Shaw campaign team.

POLITICAL TRAP

With clearly intractable positions taken by both sides, Ashley suggested that the Shaw faction has been caught in a political trap.

"The Shaw team has not been disbanded and seems to be under the impression that because they amassed over 2,000 votes, they have some leverage. Their demands have to be met in order that they participate in any attempt at unity," said Ashley.

But he predicted that this "veiled threat" would not work.

Members of the Holness camp claimed that the Shaw team was making unreasonable demands in response to offers Holness made to two of its members to continue serving as shadow spokespersons.

This was promptly countered by Shaw, who accused Holness of being vindictive. In a letter to Holness, the losing candidate charged that the party leader was crafting a ploy to rid the Senate of Christopher Tufton, who was scathing in his criticisms of Holness on the campaign platform.

Shaw charged, in correspondence released to the media, that Holness was demanding that all senators resign in order to get rid of Tufton, but Holness said while he desired a clean slate, he had no power to oust the senators, who are constitutionally protected. Up to late yesterday, five senators signalled that they were willing to resign, but three were still resisting.

There was no indication that Tufton, who was appointed to the Senate on Holness's advice to the governor general after losing his South West St Elizabeth seat, would risk being eliminated from the Upper House.

Yesterday, well-placed sources inside the Shaw camp said members of the defeated team were reluctant to return to the fold of the JLP unless the outstanding matters concerning appointments to the Senate as well as deputy leader and constituency leaders were addressed.

General Secretary Dr Horace Chang ruled on the eve of the leadership election that the nominations of James Robertson, the deputy leader for Area Council Two, and Dr Christopher Tufton, of Area Council Four, were improper as they had not been placed on the prescribed forms.