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Judgement day in JLP - Holness' stewardship focus at caucus

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness
Andrew Holness
Derrick Smith
Delroy Chuck
Darly Vaz

The parliamentary group of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is scheduled to go into caucus today, a session in which the future of the party and the leadership of Andrew Holness are expected to be examined.

Once again, the youthful leader of four years is expected to be in the firing line.

Derrick Smith, Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, has confirmed that he is the man, who is, again, entrusted to preside over the caucus being seen by some as a showdown.

"I will be chairing the caucus of members of Parliament, but that is all I can say as the meeting has not yet been held," said Smith, when contacted by The Gleaner yesterday.

Scheduled for the JLP's Belmont Road headquarters, this morning, Holness' stewardship is again, coming under intense scrutiny from within the party. In fact, all of the caucuses that the JLP has had over the last year have been to question Holness on his management of the party, which could be the reason one of his supporters was dismissive about today's grouping.

Just "another round of sniping by some," the supporter said.

While acknowledging that the caucus is on schedule, veteran politician Karl Samuda, who is expected to feature prominently in the talks, would not venture a comment when approached.

"I can't say anything at this time; it's just a love fest," quipped a laughing Samuda, when pressed for a comment.

Delroy Chuck, another vocal veteran, was just as coy when asked if he would be in attendance. "Which caucus is that?" he chuckled. "What you know about caucus?"

Daryl Vaz told The Gleaner that he would be in attendance but was also sparing with his comments. "It's another of several that we have had in the past and whatever emerges, you will be briefed on afterwards."

During his four-year tenure, Holness has been successful in repeatedly repelling attempts at his political booting.

Holness prevailed in 2013 when he was challenged by veteran politician Audley Shaw, one of the then deputy leaders of the JLP.

One of Holness' loyalist charged that "tempting bargaining chips" are being used by detractors to win support because they can't prevail via the delegates route.

Another charged: "They are trying to lose the election so they can challenge again."

Although he has hit the ground running in a bid to unseat the Portia Simpson Miller-led People's National Party, Holness' reign continues to be haunted by the biting criticisms of his detractors within the JLP.

The ill-fated attempt by Holness to unseat two senators in the aftermath of the 2013 leadership tussle did not help to mute rumblings in the JLP.

But Holness supporters have accused detractors of rejecting the leader's repeated extension of the olive branch and overtures, and in so doing, sabotaging the JLP's election-winning efforts.

Those expected to be in attendance are Holness, Shaw, Chang, Smith, Samuda, Chuck, Vaz, Olivia Grange, Pearnel Charles, Ruddy Spencer, Edmund Bartlett, James Robertson, Desmond McKenzie, J.C. Hutchinson, Mike Henry, Everald Warmington, Andrew Wheatley, Shahini Robinson, Gregory Mair, Dr Kenneth Baugh, and Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert.