BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau ?email@example.com
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Leader Andrew Holness says there will be no public session when the party holds its annual conference at the National Arena on November 18.
According to Holness, the party has instead decided to hold a one-day conference for delegates. “The Labour Party is changing the way it does things; we are spending more time to communicate our message to our supporters and our grass-roots base, because the people of the party need to know and understand what the policies of the party are in order to support it; so we are going to have a delegates’ conference where we can sit and reason with our delegates,” Holness explained.
He was speaking on Sunday at the party’s Area Council 4 Annual General Meeting at the Bethel All-Age School in Hanover.
“Everybody knows that if the Labour Party wants to, we can call big meetings. We have had the biggest meeting — in terms of a party conference — in the history of Jamaica, so we don’t have anything to prove again. Where we need to focus is to build a strong core of the party that understands our policies and can articulate them to their friends, families and neighbours, and bring them out to the polls,” he argued.
He said during the one-day conference much time will be spent to discuss the policies of the party and “it won’t be from the head table down, it will be from the audience telling the head table what they want to see and where we want our party to go”.
Said Holness: “When we are finished every Labourite who is a delegate will understand the purpose of the Labour Party; every Labourite who is a delegate will become an agent of change for the Jamaica Labour Party; everybody who support the Labour Party will understand the mission and vision of the party,” he emphasised.
In the last general election the JLP won 21 of the 63 parliamentary seats. The party also suffered another crushing defeat at the hands of the People’s National Party in the local government polls that followed.
In the aftermath of the dismal performance in both elections, a committee was formed by the party to assess its poor showing in the polls and to make recommendations. That process is yet to be completed.
But Holness told the party faithfuls on Sunday that the party has spent nearly one year developing an understanding amongst the leadership of the party. “By nature our party is an individualistic party, by nature our party is independent and people will have independent positions, but we are all coalescing around some core ideas. The Labour Party of two years ago is not the same Labour Party. This Labour Party understands where it wants to go and the mission and vision; the leadership of the party is united. The leadership of the party understands the issues of the country and the leadership sits down and takes strategic decisions as to how we are going to rebuild the party,” he emphasised.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Water and Housing Dr Horace Chang told the meeting that he will be throwing his hat in the ring for the position of JLP general secretary, while councillor for the Anchovy Division Homer Davis has indicated that he will run for deputy general secretary. Robert Montague, who is the party’s acting chairman, will be seeking to become the chairman of the party.
The election for the party’s secretariat is expected to be held at
the JLP’s first Central Executive
meeting after the conference.