DEPUTY Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Audley Shaw is more than baring his soul these days as he continues on a series of internal party consultations in an attempt to woo delegates on his qualification and readiness to lead not only the JLP, but also the country.
In a frank and open presentation at the Observer's Monday Exchange, Shaw, who is the member of Parliament for North East Manchester since 1993, spoke of the personal hurt he experiences when the JLP loses an election and the corresponding negative impact losing an election has on the forward progress of the party.
"For me, losing an election is a most traumatic experience, most traumatic. The JLP has not done well at the polls in recent times, and it really hurts when one considers the amount of work required to put the party machinery in place and the many hours workers spend to contest an election. The task after losing an election is to quickly find the reasons for defeat, analyse these reasons, find appropriate solutions and thereafter take the sometimes harsh decisions necessary to minimise, if not eradicate all the impediments of defeat," the JLP deputy leader said.
In referencing his latter comment, Shaw mentioned the much-talked- about 'report' done by a committee appointed by the JLP to analyse the reasons for the 2011 election debacle and to make recommendations for the future. "This committee was appointed, the members did what was asked of them, a report was presented but up until now, this report has not been presented to the wide membership of the JLP. To this day, as the longest standing deputy leader of the party, I have not received a copy of this report," a most disturbed-looking Audley Shaw said.
Since 1962 there have been 12 general elections in Jamaica, with the JLP being victorious five times, including in 1983 when the People's National Party (PNP) boycotted the polls. The PNP has won seven times.
Commenting further on his party's most recent election loss in 2011, when the PNP won 42 of the 63 seats on offer, Shaw told the Observer's gathering of editors and reporters that it was a particularly bitter defeat and one which is still having a negative effect on the party and himself. He added that the decision to call the elections in December (2011) was not one which was discussed widely within the party and if the choice was his, he would not have gone to the polls in December 2011, especially with the scheduled Jamaica 50 celebrations just around the corner and also the London Olympics.
"Let me state emphatically that if it was my choice to call the election date in 2011, I would have waited at least a year longer to do so. Look, let me explain one fundamental fact of political life; you have to win elections to execute your policies and programmes -- that is the only way -- that is the bottom line. But in order to win an election, you must understand politics, you must choose the right time and you must have the party machinery in place.
"That is why I am now offering myself for the leadership of the JLP. I want to restore what I consider to be broken morale among our party workers, our rank and file, those who work and work very hard for the party, they deserve better, and no matter what plans you have in place, the groundwork still has to be done," Shaw said.
Shaw was fulsome in his praise for the PNP, highlighting the influence of former Prime Minister P J Patterson on the work and life of his party.
"You check it out: The PNP won the last election, they currently form the government, yet on their conference platform last Sunday, P J (Patterson) is talking about rebuilding the party in its 75th year and strengthening its internal mechanisms with the main intention of being ready for the next election," the former finance minister said. "Indeed we can and should learn from them."