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Senior JLP members disagree about leadership debate

Published:Tuesday | October 1, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

TWO SENIOR members of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) who have thrown their full support behind party leader Andrew Holness are divided on the issue of whether the incumbent should square off in a public debate with leadership contender Audley Shaw.

On Sunday, Shaw declared that he would be willing to challenge Holness in a leadership debate on any subject proposed by the JLP leader.

Noting that he was approached by a media house to indicate his position on a public debate, Shaw said he would be ready to challenge the leader at any time.

Yesterday, 'rock-stone' supporter of Holness, Pearnel Charles, told The Gleaner that he had no objection to a leadership debate between the two contenders.

However, Charles said he would consult with his colleagues, including Holness, to ascertain what their views were on a public leadership debate.

"It is not a matter of who has more public relations experts or presentations or who is more conservative than who; it is a question of what is to be discussed," Charles said.

Debate not necessary

But another stalwart, Derrick Smith, is not in agreement with the proposal for Holness and Shaw to engage in a leadership debate.

"I don't think it is necessary, I think what the candidates should do is ensure that they make themselves accessible and available to as many of the approximately 5,000 delegates that might be on the voters' list," Smith said.

Citing his 35 years' experience in the party, Smith reasoned that there were certain questions that delegates would want to ask the leadership contenders that should not be for public consumption. "This is a family business," Smith stressed.

"I think that both candidates better get themselves out in the nook and cranny of this country, in large groups and small groups and speak to the delegates face to face," said Smith, who has declared support for Holness.

Smith said Holness might not necessarily share his views on the matter.

Efforts to get a comment from Holness were unsuccessful as incoming calls to his number were restricted.