Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Councillor, Duane Smith, has said that the failure of deputy leader Audley Shaw to register his North East Manchester constituency until late July, should make it very difficult for the party to believe in his credibility as a leader.
Smith, the 31-year-old Councillor for the Chancery Hall division in North West St Andrew, which is represented by his father, the veteran JLP MP Derrick Smith, said that it will be extremely difficult for Shaw to explain why he missed both the March 31 constitutional deadline, and the extended deadline of May 15, and only registered his constituency on July 22.
"That is about a month before it became known that he was planning to challenge Andrew Holness for the leadership of the party: What does that say?" Smith asked.
He said that after the issue involving three of the party's four deputy leaders, whose election at last year's conference was opposed by Everald Warmington in a petition to the Supreme Court in November 2012 seeking an injunction, which almost aborted the annual conference, Shaw should have acted more responsibly in having his constituency meet this year's deadlines for registration.
"That is not how someone who wants to lead by example behaves. It is irresponsible and inexcusable, and I would like to hear his explanation as to why that happened," Smith said.
Smith has shown no reluctance in expressing his support for Holness, since the leadership issue arose in August. He said that he supports Holness because he thinks he represents the future of both the party and the country.
"For all practical purposes, I believe that investing in the leadership of Andrew will yield long term benefits for the Jamaica Labour Party. Investing in Shaw will inevitably lead to another potentially unsettling and divisive leadership contest in the near future. The truth is that the party would not have an extended future with Shaw," he suggested.
"Holness is not only 20 years younger than Shaw, he is at least of equal competence and travels with much less baggage to the next general elections," Smith said.
He stated that Shaw's campaign so far, has only sought to bash Holness on the issue of party organisation, but he noted that Holness has not had two years in the position of leader, while Shaw has been in leadership positions for more than 15 years.
"Indeed, the very things of which he complains, would be the responsibilities of the deputy leaders, of which he is one. For him to come now and criticise, is hypocritical and disingenuous. I am not surprised to have learnt that his constituency was not registered in time and possible may not be able to vote for him," he said.
"Conversely, the Leader has always been an institution man for the party, never seeking office in a contentious way, and always seeking to unite and reconcile. I like that about the leader," Smith said.
Smith claimed that Shaw poured scorn on the party's grassroots supporters who fear that a challenge would split the party in two, by calling them aggressors.
He said that Holness has been much more "respectful and embracing" of the grassroots and, in his own style, has explained to them that a challenge is good, and that the party will manage it in such a way that at the end of the day, the party wins.
"There is no doubt that the party needs reform, but it cannot reform away from its base. The Leader must be able to face and reason with the base of the party to ensure that they are on board. Change takes time and patience. It cannot be bought. It cannot be artificially imposed," Smith said.