EDITORIAL - JLP: Opportunity for healing

Published: Tuesday | December 3, 2013 Comments 0

Clarification

In the editorial published on Tuesday, December 3, it might have been suggested that Jamaica Labour Party Chairman Robert Montague supported Audley Shaw in that party’s recent leadership campaign. Mr Montague, however, maintains that that is not true.

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Having squandered the initial opportunity to begin the healing after a rough leadership race, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), after Sunday's vote for its second- and third-tier officers, appears ready to begin to suture the wounds.

The primary responsibility, as we have consistently held, rests with the party's leader, Andrew Holness. But much will depend on the Audley Shaw faction and how it interprets the signal sent by the party's central executive, the major decision-making body outside the JLP's annual conference.

It is this body that chooses the general secretary, the chairman, their deputies, and other key officers, except for the party leader and his deputies.

Critically, the central executive re-elected General Secretary Horace Chang and Chairman Robert Montague, both of whom were challenged, and, respectively, believed to have supported Mr Holness and Mr Shaw during the recent leadership elections.

While Mr Holness' supporters may have gained the majority of posts, there will be a more than fair representation of Shaw supporters in the party's top councils. In effect, there was no wholesale purge.

The development to watch now is the attitude of Mr Shaw and his key campaign lieutenants, Edmund Bartlett and Christopher Tufton.

In the immediate aftermath of the leadership vote, Mr Shaw declined Mr Holness' offer to continue as the shadow finance minister because of his dissatisfaction with the stance by Mr Holness and his acolytes against Dr Tufton.

For instance, there was the claim by the party secretariat that Dr Tufton's nomination for a deputy leader post was technically invalid. Mr Shaw perceived Mr Holness' signal that he would welcome the resignation of opposition senators was aimed at Dr Tufton. Similarly, Mr Bartlett declined his nomination to the shadow Cabinet as spokesman on foreign affairs, insisting that he continue in the tourism portfolio.

What was worse, letters rebuffing Mr Holness were released by Messrs Shaw and Bartlett within hours of their private meetings with the party leader. In the end, Mr Holness got his way on the Senate issues by means whose legality are now before the courts, challenged by someone other than Dr Tufton who has also withdrawn his nomination for a deputy leader's slot.

Glimmer of hope

These developments could have been even nastier. But there were some deft moves on Sunday which, in part, built on earlier efforts by Dr Tufton who, in withdrawing his deputy leader nomination, indicated his wish for healing in the JLP.

It is within that context that we view positively the election of Mr Shaw, Mr Bartlett and Delroy Chuck, a Shaw supporter, to the Standing Committee, the body that meets weekly and oversees the day-to-day operations of the party.

Further, Mr Holness has not withdrawn the shadow Cabinet offers to either Mr Shaw or Mr Bartlett. Further, Mr Shaw, unless he withdraws, will continue to chair Parliament's powerful Public Accounts Committee, while Mr Bartlett was invited to head a JLP internal relations committee - a role that gives him influence over how the JLP goes about healing the post-election wounds.

Mr Holness, having won a strong mandate, has unfairly taken much flak for attempting to stamp his authority on the JLP. His critics, in the face of what emerged on Sunday, can't now accuse him of not offering the olive branch.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

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