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Holness goes on attack - Accuses Party detractors of self-interest

Asks Jamaica to reject attempts at creating disunity in JLP

Thursday, August 15, 2013    

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ANDREW Holness yesterday urged Jamaicans to reject what he said were attempts to create disunity in his Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), saying that the individuals behind that effort were driven by self-interest.

“It appears that there are elements who have no interest in the national interest and would seek to create distractions by giving misinformation and making false allegations in the press in order to create confusion,” Holness said in a post on the popular social network site Facebook.

“Let us reject those who, for their own self-interest, seek to create disunity. I call on all well-thinking Jamaicans to unite around a single cause; that of rescuing our country,” the O pposition leader added.

Holness did not say whom his comments were directed at. However, his posting, which includes a photo of himself and Opposition spokesman on finance, Audley Shaw, eating boxed food under a tent, will most likely reignite debate of discord in the party that has developed a reputation for imploding.

In April this year, the JLP denied that there were divisions within its ranks after Shaw as well as Dr Christopher Tufton, the spokesman on foreign affairs, foreign trade, and investment; and Gregory Mair, who shadows industry, commerce and energy, were all excluded from a forum on the economy hosted by the party in Portmore, St Catherine.

At the time, JLP insiders had told the Jamaica Observer that the exclusion of the three men from the forum had not gone down well in the party.

The forum, titled ‘Connecting — Focus on the Economy’, had Holness as the main speaker, while deputy leader James Robertson, JLP Chairman Senator Robert Montague; MP for South Central St Catherine Dr Andrew Wheatley; and MP for North East St Ann Shahine Robinson gave presentations.

According to JLP insiders, Shaw had felt disrespected at not being included among the speakers, and other members of the party had questioned the absence of Tufton and Mair.

But, according to General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, the forum was organised by the JLP’s Area Council Two in Portmore, in consultation with the JLP Secretariat, which comprises the parishes of St Catherine, St Thomas, Portland, and St Mary, and is led by Robertson.

Chang had said that “Shaw is the JLP spokesperson on finance and planning and will continue to hold that position with the full confidence of the leader and the entire JLP team. Any suggestions otherwise are misguided and mischievous”.

He also emphasised that the party was united under Holness’ leadership.

However, JLP insiders have repeatedly told the Observer that there is dissatisfaction within the party over Holness’ leadership.

They have described him as weak and indecisive, with some pointing to his delay in calling the December 2011 general election, which the party lost, to support their point.

The fact that the election defeat made the JLP the first one-term Government in independent Jamaica was an even more devastating blow to the party and to Holness’ political image.

Since then, there has been talk of a possible challenge to his leadership being considered by other party stalwarts.

In February this year, Holness said that while he was concentrating on the rebuilding the party, he expected to face challenges to his leadership.

“It is a natural part of the political process. I don’t understand why people feel that a challenge spells disaster. No, it’s a natural part of the process,” Holness told journalists during a meeting of the Observer Press Club.

At the time, he said he knew of no challenge to his leadership. However, he said anyone who felt the need to mount a challenge was free to do so.

“It is a democracy and I am a firm believer in democracy,” he said.

In his Facebook posting yesterday, Holness reiterated his commitment to the democratic process, saying that his “track record in this regard is beyond question”.

He argued though that the JLP’s victory in last week’s local government election for the Cassia Park Division in Kingston and St Andrew was evidence that “the national mood is changing away from the Government”.

“The country,” he said, “is now looking for a united and responsible Opposition to provide alternatives to the present crisis.”

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