Holness and Shaw declare
LEADER of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness and senior party stalwart Audley Shaw are batting on the same pitch: We have a great relationship and we are happy with each other, both have said.
The veteran parliamentarians who spoke with senior Jamaica Observer journalists during the newspaper's Press Club at its Beechwood Avenue headquarters last Thursday, revealed that they had buried the hatchet regarding whatever lingering discord there might be and have committed to rebuild the JLP, which suffered a few bruises last year.
Both men had engaged in a race for leadership of the 71-year-old party last year, with Holness scoring a comfortable victory that resulted in an initial fractuous relationship.
Shaw, who gave up his deputy leader job to focus on the leadership battle, had also washed his hands of other internal party appointments to allow for self-reflection, but when the steam subsided he told Holness that he was ready again to be the party's mouthpiece on finance and planning.
"You can't tell," a smiling Holness responded when asked about the state of personal affairs between the two.
"We have an excellent relationship. I don't think that the relationship had ever deteriorated. I see Audley as my personal friend and our friendship has withstood the challenge," said Holness, who is also member of parliament for St Andrew West Central.
"I definitely agree," Shaw jumped in.
"And in the scheme of things, we have a much larger responsibility. What we have to accept is that we had a process which was good for the party and good for the country. Now we have a responsibility and a duty to the people of Jamaica and to our democrary, to come together and prepare ourselves as a credible alternative government in waiting. That seems the larger duty and responsibility we have," Shaw stated.
Although there has been a shaking of hands between the two and they can now jump into each other's backyard again, there still exists strains of other relationships turned sour, which party officials admitted would have happened in any democracy, something which they continue to work on to patch up.
Former prime minister Holness, 41, and ex-finance minister Shaw, who turns 62 on June 13, are among the long-serving members of parliament on either side of the House of Representatives.
Holness, who also served as minister of education from 2007 to 2012, was awarded the seat in the volatile inner-city community by a court in 1997, following voting irregularities at the end of a rugged contest against the now president of the Jamaica Administrative Athletic Association, Dr Warren Blake, and has remained firmly in charge of a seat that the ruling People's National Party once dominated.
Shaw, the MP for Manchester North East and finance minister between 2007 and 2012, has been the distinctive political ruler in the cooler section of Central Jamaica since 1993.
They are both seen by political analysts as key to driving the JLP's election machinery on the road to national governance when a general election becomes due in two-and-a-half years, following the party's 42-21 seat defeat to the PNP in the national vote of December 2011.