VETERAN Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Member of Parliament Karl Samuda has accused officers of the party supporting the challenger to current leader, Andrew Holness, of breaching a collective agreement on the party's strategy in dealing with the People's National Party (PNP) Government.
Samuda said that he was taken by surprise by "rumours" of the challenge to Holness by Audley Shaw, and was initially convinced that "it couldn't be true".
"I said it could not be true for a very simple reason, because collectively at the leadership of the party, at the level of the shadow cabinet of the party, we all agreed on a strategy going forward," Samuda told Sunday's JLP Area Council One meeting in Kingston.
"That strategy was laid out within a time frame, what we were going to do and at the end of the period we would begin a process of accelerating the pace against the People's National Party. We have just reached that stage, after two years, just reached the stage where we were going to launch a serious attack on the credibility of the PNP, when I heard that we were to be disrupted with a challenge," Samuda said.
"I cannot, Labourites, think of a worse time to pose any kind of distraction, so that the PNP can get away with all the nonsense and the ruination of the economy and the country as they are getting away with right now," he added.
"I spoke to Audley and, in the presence of the leader and the general secretary, I said to Audley, 'I do not support your challenge'... I said 'Let us do everything in our power as a team united to fight the People's National Party, when they are at their lowest ebb.' Just when we had the wicket prepared for the pace bowling, to take some wickets, is when we allow ourselves to be distracted into this contest and allow Portia Simpson Miller and her regime to get away with actually doing nothing for the Jamaican people," he stated.
Samuda said that what was worse, was that the people who are now criticising Holness's style once admired him.
"When Andrew spoke about his vision for Jamaica, through education, there was not a single person in the room who did not have anything but praise for this young man as a visionary," he said.
According to Samuda, when Holness spoke about his vision about education, every member of the Cabinet went into silence "for the depth and the knowledge that this young man was displaying".
However, he said that the challenge might have been the best thing to happen to Holness, because he has begun to expose what his admirers always knew he had in him, "and that is the strength to lead this country forward".
"He is tough, and now that you are beginning to see a little of him and it is coming out more and more, I hope you are ready for him," Samuda said.
He recalled how hard Holness had to work to win the West Central St Andrew seat, considered a tough one for the JLP.
"He had to work twice as hard to get into the House of Parliament. So when I hear this nonsense going around the place that we must elect somebody who can win, I don't know of anybody who is better able to win than Andrew Holness," Samuda stated.
"I don't want this party to descend into 'kass kass'. I have been involved in enough conflict in this party over the years, and it has done untold damage to me, personally, and to the Jamaica Labour Party. Only by being united, only by holding hands with your fellow Labourites... that is what the labour party stands for and that is what is going to lead us to victory," he argued.