EDITORIAL - Good show, Mr Holness
Andrew Holness is beginning to sound as though he really wants the job and serious about leading the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). That, potentially, is a good sign for the JLP and Jamaica, if it is Mr Holness' intent that his leadership stands for something substantial and transformative.
In that case, the short-term mess that will attend Mr Holness' bid to assert his leadership and stamp his authority on the party will be worth the investment.
Should he not flatter to deceive, the emerging Mr Holness revealed himself in interviews with this newspaper published last weekend. The most significant of these were his comments about two senior members of the JLP - the deputy leader, James Robertson and the general secretary, Aundré Franklyn.
Both men, Mr Holness remarked, have image problems, which, in Jamaica, is notoriously the case. Not least of these issues was America's revocation of Mr Robertson's travel visa while he was a minister of government.
Message about jlp leadership
Implicit in Mr Holness' remarks was a message to his party's central executive council, as well as the regional conferences, about the personnel he would not wish to see in the JLP's top leadership after internal party elections next month. We interpret that message as relevant to others than Messrs Robertson and Franklyn.
"Now is the time for a total evaluation of everything," he told this newspaper. "... I would say, 'here is where the party wants to go, you go and make your decisions as to who are the best people to carry us in that direction'."
There are, of course, two elements missing from this configuration.
The first of these is what Mr Holness intends to do if the delegates reject his platform and keep in place officers who carry baggage inimical to the interests of the JLP. The second issue is what, beyond the personalities, is the platform that Mr Holness intends to place before his party; what, going forward, will the JLP stand for.
Mr Holness has to configure both in tandem - winkling out the political trollops and trolls from crevices of the party, while at the same time articulating a philosophy around which JLP supporters can coalesce. His objective would be two-fold: rebuilding confidence in the JLP, making it attractive as a public-policy formulating and election machinery; and repositioning it as a vanguard for the support and protection of Jamaica's democracy.
Any rebuilding effort should be informed, in part, by a robust analysis, with the help of thoughtful, independent people, of what went wrong in the JLP that caused it to lose the trust of the electorate after a mere four years in office. Secondly, the party leader openly and genuinely appeal to, and persuade, thinking sympathisers of the JLP who may have receded, or stayed away, that he is serious about the kind of reforms in which they can invest.
If Mr Holness proceeds along the path he appeared to signal, he has several factors in his favour.
One of them is the declaration by Dr Christopher Tufton, the JLP's most attractive alternative, that he stands behind Mr Holness.
Second, the national and local elections, for whose loss he cannot bear the brunt of the blame, are behind him. Some bloodletting at this time need not be fatal.
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