OPPOSITION Leader Andrew Holness has sought to beat back his detractors' claims that he handed victory to the ruling People's National Party in the 2011 general elections because of political naivety.
Holness has been blamed by some persons in his party that he was handed the Prime Ministership on a platter, and even though he had enjoyed a surge in popularity with the electorate, he failed to call an election in a reasonable time.
But Holness, speaking at the Jamaica Observer Press Club last Thursday, rubbished the claims and defended his actions.
"When Mr Golding resigned you must consider the reasons behind the resignation, and so I don't believe I was given a platter. It was more like a basket. Mr Golding gave, in my mind, a very clear resignation speech and in the resignation speech he outlined the framework of who he thought should be leader and the difficulties the country was about to face," he said.
Holness, who is facing a leadership challenge from Audley Shaw, one of the JLP's four deputy leaders, said that the country was in an economic bind at the time he was handed the reins of power.
"You must also bear in mind that I took over a situation where the country was just being told that we did not sit five IMF tests. Now, can you imagine if this present Government misses one? I was under no illusion about the difficult stage the country was in," he said.
At the time of Holness's selection, the JLP was behind in the polls to the PNP by 15 percentage points, but the party drew level with the PNP soon after, as the country basked in the euphoria of the prospect of a new and different politician.
A massive crowd turned out at the party's conference at the National Arena in November 2011, a month after Holness's appointment.
It was widely expected that Holness would have ridden the wave of popularity and call an election in short order.
However, the election was set for December 29 and the Holness-led JLP was trounced at the polls by the Portia Simpson Miller-led PNP.
Holness also rubbished claims that if he had called the election at an earlier date his party would have given a better showing.
But Holness said he had to deal with the country's business before he could even think about an election campaign.
Days after he was named the new JLP leader, Holness and Golding embarked on a trip to Washington, DC to meet with International Monetary Fund representatives as the country was in a sorry economic state.
"The hand that I was dealt was not a hand that could be easily played," he said. "The Government at the time was in a very difficult position. We had just come out of the whole Mannat, Dudus, incursion issue so the credibility of the Government... with civil society every minute harping on us, the public was already turned off."