THE Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) Standing Committee last night resumed its weekly meeting to discuss internal issues, but the threat of disunity continues to haunt the party as supporters of current leader Andrew Holness dominated the meeting, while the still informal team backing Audley Shaw met to finalise a list of senior party officers who have committed to supporting the deputy leader.
That list is expected to be made public today.
One obvious development yesterday was that at least two-thirds of the party's members of parliament (MPs) are supportive of Holness. These include deputy leaders Desmond McKenzie of Area Council One (Kingston and St Andrew) and James Robertson of Area Council Two (St Catherine, St Thomas, Portland and St Mary), and fellow MPs Olivia 'Babsy' Grange; General Secretary Dr Horace Chang; party Chairman Robert Montague; Treasurer Karl Samuda; Dr Kenneth Baugh, Shahine Robinson (North East St Ann), Marisa Dalrymple Philibert (South Trelawny); newcomer Dr Andrew Wheatley (South Central St Catherine); Everald Warmington (South West St Catherine); and veterans Pearnel Charles and Derrick Smith.
There are only two MPs who have shown any solid support for Shaw so far. These are industry, commerce and energy spokesman Gregory Mair, and West Portland MP Daryl Vaz, who has been portrayed as the chief architect of the challenge to Holness.
However, it seems that Edmund Bartlett, Rudyard Spencer and Mike Henry may also be leaning in that direction.
Shaw's organisation also seems to be depending on the support of a number of former MPs and youth leaders, including Senator Christopher Tufton and former G2K President Delano Seiveright.
If Shaw decides to challenge Holness, the competition would officially conclude the party's annual conference in November.
However, there is no guarantee that he will make the challenge. Insiders recall that Shaw was determined to challenge former Prime Minister Bruce Golding's return as leader in 2002, but changed his mind before the deadline.
However, following last weekend's peppy area council meetings, there has been a lift in the enthusiasm in both camps, but the lift has been much higher within the Holness camp which is teeming with confidence.
Area Council Two, where Holness made his response on Sunday, is the largest area council within the JLP, boasting 4,570 delegates.
"There is no real threat," a party official and Holness supporter said yesterday. "But we want to show Jamaica that the party is a democratic institution, and there is no autocracy in the character of the current leader."
The confidence being displayed by Holness's supporters is primarily due to the fact that with at least two-thirds of the MPs, who exert enormous influence on the selection and voting patterns of the delegates, especially strong MPs like McKenzie and Grange in his camp, Shaw is unlikely to overwhelm that challenge.
But Shaw's supporters insist that, despite the presence of Dr Chang, an influential MP in Area Council Four, they control much of the support at the local government level; and that it is even better in Area Council Three (Manchester, Clarendon and St Ann), where Shaw is the deputy leader. However, he has Pearnel Charles to contend with.