HOPEWELL, Hanover — As the race for the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) intensifies, incumbent leader Andrew Holness, in a swipe at his challenger Audley Shaw, said the leadership style of the party should be in contrast to that of Jamaica's first female prime minister.
"When you put me beside the prime minister, you know I am different from the prime minister. You know that you have an alternative. The Jamaica Labour Party does not need a Portia Simpson Miller in it," Holness argued
He was addressing JLP delegates and party supporters in this town on Jamaica's north coast Saturday night.
Underlining that the party, and the nation by extension, needs responsible and not confrontational-style leadership, Holness argued that "it is important that at this stage of the development of our country new leadership should emerge".
"We have been an independent nation for the past 50 years. We had a vision from [JLP founder Sir Alexander] Bustamante, we had a vision from [People's National Party co-founder] Norman Manley, we had Hugh Shearer, we had Michael Manley, we had Edward Seaga, we had PJ Patterson, we had Portia Simpson Miller, we had Bruce Golding.
"There is 50 years of development to come. There is a whole generation here of young people, of people who are tired and frustrated with the old politics," the JLP and Opposition leader said.
He classified the race between himself and his challenger as "a challenge between new ways of doing things and old ways that have failed us".
"This race is not a race between me and Audley... Audley is mi friend... but this race is about two competing views and outlook on Jamaica. This race is about whether or not you as the delegates of the party will be looking forward to the future with new leadership who will bring a new politics to give us finally a chance to succeed, or whether you as the delegates of the party will look back to old politics. It is whether or not you as the delegates of the party will embrace a new vision for prosperity, a new vision for success, a new vision that will benefit your children, or whether you will look at a nightmare," Holness argued.
Noting that about half of the 1.7 million persons on the voters' list did not exercise their franchise in the last general election, Holness argued that many of the new voters who will be enlisted will be youths who have a different outlook than the more seasoned voters.
"They see things different. And our politics can't remain in the same way if we are to engage them, because they are the leaders of the society in the future. Reach out to them, embrace them because though they might not have voted in the last elections, they can vote in elections to come if we put in the appropriate mechanisms to reach them," the JLP leader said.