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Audley Shaw says yes ...Declares he will challenge JLP leader Andrew Holness

Published:Sunday | September 15, 2013 | 7:11 PM

Jamaica Labour Party Leader deputy leader, Audley Fitz-Albert Shaw, has declared that he will be challenging Andrew Michael Holness for the post of leadership at the party’s upcoming annual conference.

Shaw made the declaration in an address to the national carried on local radio and TV stations a short while ago.

“We must bring back the love and unity into the JLP, and from there bring back the love and unity to the Jamaican people,” Shaw said before announcing that he would be taking on the incumbent.

According to Shaw, he made the decision following a series of consultations across Jamaica.

"I have heard the calls. I have listened to your appeals. I have consulted with and received the blessing and support of my family. I have prayed to God for Guidance. I have now come to the decision that I will allow my name to be entered into nomination for the post of Leader of this great 70 year -old movement, the Jamaica Labour Party that was formed by the Right Excellent Sir William Alexander Bustamante,” said Shaw.


My fellow Jamaicans, good evening.

I speak to you this evening as a concerned Jamaican who loves my country, and who has devoted most of my adult life in the service of my country through my beloved Jamaica Labour Party.

As you may be aware I have advised both the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party the Hon. Andrew Holness and the Chairman of the Party Senator Robert Montague, of my intention to embark on an island wide consultation with delegates of the Party to determine whether I should offer myself for the post of Leader of the Party.

In the course of these consultations, I have had several face-to-face meetings and conversations with members and functionaries of the Jamaica Labour Party, and a broad cross-section of civil society, business community and grassroots Jamaicans.

Throughout my consultations, persons have expressed numerous concerns about the state of our country and their alarm at the lack of assertiveness of the Jamaica Labour Party in keeping the present Government accountable, and further, in our inability to present ourselves as a viable government in waiting.

The consultations also revealed that there is a serious lack of motivation and low morale among our party members and functionaries, which is symptomatic of the apathetic state of the wider society to our political affairs. The times we live in require greater participation and re-engagement of the people around the decisions that have to be made to take the country out of the social and economic quagmire in which we find ourselves.

We need to recapture the fervour of the founding years of our nationhood, where every Jamaican believed that they had a stake in the development of this nation.

It is not only the economy that has broken down, and our apathy towards it, the quality of our social interaction has also deteriorated. We have become impatient and hostile in the way we interact with one another.

We need to become a kinder and gentler nation and our Party must lead the way by becoming a kinder and gentler party.

We must bring back the love and unity into the JLP, and from there bring back the love and unity to the Jamaican people.

The consultations further revealed that these are among the hardest times we have seen in Jamaica. Unemployment is unacceptably high and unemployment among young people is close to 40% despite the fact that the bulk of our population is in the most productive years of their lives; cheap imported chicken back is short while chicken farms remain idle and under utililized; The Jamaican dollar is at its lowest in the country’s history, trading at well over $102 Jamaican dollars to one United States dollar sending prices through the roof.

Crime is on the rise with an average of 4 persons being murdered each day.

Cost-sharing in school has been re-introduced through the backdoor, hospitals are running dangerously low on critical supplies, and while all of this is happening the people believe that the leadership in the Government has gone to sleep and the Opposition has done little to wake them up or has failed to effectively articulate its vision of a credible alternative government.

These consultations have brought me all over the island and one thing that was constant in the message is that the time is long past for us, as a Party, to collectively shrug off the debilitating and negative effects of electoral defeats and proceed with faith, strength and confidence in carrying out the arduous but necessary task of rebuilding our party polling division by polling division, branch by branch, constituency by constituency, in order to effectively re-engage the Jamaican people and convince them to buy into our vision.

The clear and unambiguous message of the consultations is that the JLP now needs STRONG, VISIONARY AND DECISIVE leadership, a leadership that will rekindle hope in our Party and our country.

I have served the party in many leadership capacities over the years. As General Secretary, as Deputy Leader for 14 years and Member of Parliament for 20 years. The experience I have garnered over the years has prepared me well.

In the 1980s under the leadership of Edward Seaga, I was a major driving force in investment promotion, which saw the creation of thousands of jobs in the free zones and elsewhere.

In 2007 after inheriting from the PNP government 18 years of weak economic performance and the collapse of the financial and productive sectors of the economy, we were able to get the economy back to stability and on a growth path in 2011 despite the worst global recession in 80 years.

I am proud that, as Minister of Finance, we were able to maintain a stable currency, restore economic growth, preserve our Net International Reserves, reduced taxes to promote investment, sharply reduce interest rates and initiated the Jamaica Debt Exchange, which saved hundreds of millions of dollars in high interest and principal payments, and provided a climate in which investors both internationally and domestically, were comfortable and willing to invest in the country, providing many badly-needed jobs, particularly for our young people.

Although we made good progress, we still have much more work to do in order to finish the rebuilding process.

Our mission must now be to rebuild our great Party so that we can form government again at the next general elections, and ensure the maintenance of a strong political base that can support more than one term in government in order to allow the JLP to fulfill its mission of rebuilding the Jamaican economy over a sustained period of time and providing hope, opportunity and love to all Jamaicans.

We will manage the economy as we have done before to achieve high levels of economic growth and job creation while controlling crime.

We must focus on early childhood education, rural development, small businesses and medium enterprises, small farmers and venture capital financing. We must deal decisively with crime while at the same time protecting the environment. And we must harness the intellectual and financial capital in our Jamaican Diaspora in this national thrust.

We cannot rely only on large investment projects; we simply must make it a lot easier to do business in Jamaica.

In the end, our mission must be to create a society in which our people are well trained to world class standards of productivity, are gainfully employed, earn a decent standard of living, and enjoy peace and prosperity in a clean, safe and healthy environment.

I have heard the calls. I have listened to your appeals. I have consulted with and received the blessing and support of my family. I have prayed to God for Guidance. I have now come to the decision that I will allow my name to be entered into nomination for the post of Leader of this great 70 year -old movement, the Jamaica Labour Party that was formed by the Right Excellent Sir William Alexander Bustamante.

If it is God’s will and the choice of the delegates that I am to lead this great Party, I will do my best to be worthy of your trust and confidence.

I make this declaration with malice towards none, knowing full well that there must be a place in the Party for everyone, no matter our political antecedents and background, in order to be able to achieve electoral victory and to provide a better and brighter future for all Jamaicans.

I believe we have a golden opportunity now to show Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world, that our Party respects democracy internally, because the affirmation of our own internal democracy will make us better able to secure lasting democracy for our country.

On the 29th of this month, there will be a formal launch of my campaign for leadership, at which time the details of the plans to rebuild our Party will be presented, along with the policy framework and vision that will guide us into the next general elections when we form the next government.

In the course of this campaign, the Party and every Jamaican can be assured that this will be a contest of ideas, plans, programmes and vision; and not one that is based on negative campaigning and personal attacks.

It is time for us to bring back the love, and unite for victory as we build a better and stronger nation.

I feel moved to end with a prayer from Saint Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace! That where there is hatred, I may bring love. That where there is wrong, I may bring a spirit of forgiveness. That where there is discord, I may bring harmony. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted. To understand, than to be understood. To love, than to be loved.”

May God bless you all and may God bless Jamaica, land we love.

Thank you and good night.

- Audley Shaw


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