SPRINGFIELD, St James — Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness has made it clear that he will not back down from any challenge for the top post, but urges that such challenge be pursued with respect.
"...Challenge is good. Challenge strengthens me and whoever would like to challenge, come, come!" dared Holness as he addressed party supporters at a South St James constituency conference at the Springfield Primary and Junior High in the parish.
"You have heard some questions being asked internally, but let me say this -- the Jamaica Labour Party is 70 years old. We have learnt from our history and our history tells us that we must be united in whatever we do. In whatever challenges may come, we must be united. In whatever challenges that may incur, we must be respectful. I believe that the institutions of the party are strong enough to withstand any challenges," Holness argued.
However, he emphasised that he will stoutly stand up against any attempt to bring the party into disrepute.
"We have learnt from our history and our history says whatever the challenge, we must remain united and focused. Under this leader, I will protect the party from anything that will bring the party into disrepute. I have a duty to protect the party for you and your children and I will do my utmost to ensure that the Jamaica Labour Party is preserved and protected," Holness declared in a show of steely resolve.
In defence of his stewardship, Holness said that he was practising a new kind of politics and "it takes a strong leader" to do what he did, to face the electorate and "tell them the reality".
He was alluding to his warning during the campaign leading up to the 2011 General Elections, at which time he was prime minister, that Jamaicans were to prepare for the "bitter medicine" that would come if his party was re-elected. At the time, he was alluding to the difficult decisions that the Government would have to make to save the country's economy from its downward spiral.
"Is just reality Andrew Holness preach all the time. Is just reality on my mind. Is just the reality I tell the people. So the people have to choose if they want reality or they want the jump up... and that nuh work," he argued.
"If you want better fi yuh pickney and better fi yuhself, Andrew Holness; if you want to see prosperity in your country, Andrew Holness.
"Jamaicans have to decide because who I am is who I am. And I bring to you a new way of doing things. A lot of people want me to go out there and make up a lot of noise," he added.
He said if he was allowed to administer the "bitter medicine", the country would have recovered over the two years since election.
"And in any change it is not always going to be sweet, you are going to get some bitter medicine with it. But by now you would have recovered and you would be looking to grow. But what this Government has administered to you is poison," Holness declared.
"By cutting off education, you [are] poisoning the country; by returning to high interest rates, you [are] poisoning the country; by not carrying out comprehensive tax reform to make your tax system simpler, you are poisoning the country," he said.