LEADER of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness has said that those seeking to challenge him for leadership of the party have no real articulated difference other than the "unabashed, vulgar thrust for power".
According to Holness, he is "deeply hurt and disappointed" that there are people who are trying to destroy what the party is trying to do. The party, he said, is taking an objective look at where it is through the commissioned strategic review, the release of which has now become a point of contention by persons who have accused Holness of refusing to release the findings.
"And this is my disappointment, that there are persons who would want to take that and use it as a political football; who would want to destroy what we are trying to do for their own personal benefit. I am deeply hurt and disappointed," Holness said.
Meanwhile Holness, who was addressing the Jamaica Observer Press Club at the newspaper's offices in St Andrew, last Thursday, minced no words as he confronted the arguments being raised about the former members of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) who are lining up in support of his opponent Audley Shaw, as well as the contentious issue of skin colour.
According to Holness, there are some subliminal messages being sent, such as the distinction between his shade and that of others. This, he argued, seemed to suggest that someone of his hue should not have been leader of the party.
"I find it so amusing because I don't look at colour. I can trace my background to a few races well, and I am not talking several generations removed, so I consider myself as the motto 'Out of Many One People' and I have no hesitation or hang-up in identifying myself as a black man," he said, adding, "If you step outside of Jamaica the distinction is meaningless.
"Then you hear another subliminal message being sent that we not smart enough and we fraid ah bright people, and you hear another one say we nuh have enough money so we shouldn't be leader," said Holness.
Describing this stance as ridiculous, Holness said that the core principles of the JLP were built on defending the rights of the working people.
The JLP, he argued, has a deep-rooted tradition in the principles that are espoused by its founder Sir Alexander Bustamante and refined by its other leaders, particularly Edward Seaga.
As such, Holness said, if there are persons who hold other views and want to transform those core principles, the way to do it is not to try to hijack the leadership of the party, but from the base, have discussions with the delegates and the leadership to genuinely bring the party to their perspectives.
"If you had formed a political party before and it didn't work and didn't catch on, don't try to come and take over this party that is a 70-year-old institution, which has programmes and plans and that has shown that its programmes and plans can grow this country," said Holness.
Accordng to Holness, if there are individuals who feel that the party has some archaic institutions, they should come and reason about it.