BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive Editor — publications email@example.com
AUDLEY Shaw signalled his intention to challenge Andrew Holness for leadership of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) by telling Holness of his plan during a meeting this week and informing the party chairman in a letter yesterday.
At the same time, Shaw sought to assure his colleagues that he intended to avoid creating discord in the often fractious party, saying that he would consult with delegates and key party workers before making a final decision and that he would go about the process in a "cordial and dignified manner".
Pointing out that his intended challenge was informed by concern for the future of the country voiced to him by "numerous Jamaicans from all walks of life", Shaw said that "after discussions with family members and close associates, I have decided to give serious and studied consideration to the possibility of offering myself for the position of leader of the Jamaica Labour Party".
Shaw, one of the JLP's four deputy leaders, also told chairman Robert Montague that he intended "to engage in a process of consultation with delegates and key workers within the party islandwide. Thereafter, with God's blessings and guidance, I will make a decision on my role going forward in the best interest of our party and country".
Yesterday, JLP sources told the Jamaica Observer that Shaw, who has represented Manchester North Eastern in Parliament for the past 20 years, will announce his candidacy at a party meeting scheduled for Chapelton, Clarendon, tomorrow.
That meeting will be held at about the same time that Holness and other JLP officials will have what the party describes as a "dialogue" with the people of St Catherine South Central at the office of member of parliament Dr Andrew Wheatley.
A media advisory from the JLP also said that Holness; Wheatley; Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, member of Parliament for St Catherine Central; and Everald Warmington, Area Council chairman and MP for St Catherine South Western, will "meet with party workers and supporters".
It had been rumoured for weeks that Shaw would challenge Holness, who has been described by his detractors in the party as indecisive and weak.
Some members of the party have blamed him for the JLP's crushing loss in the December 2011 general election, arguing that he called the vote after losing the initial bounce in support he received following his elevation to the party leadership and prime ministership in October 2011.
Last week, Holness in a Facebook post, urged Jamaicans to reject what he said were attempts to create disunity in the JLP and said that the individuals behind that effort were driven by self-interest.
Last weekend he also welcomed any challenge to his post, but emphasised that any such contest should be pursued with respect.
"...Challenge is good. Challenge strengthens me and whoever would like to challenge; come, come," Holness said in an address to party supporters at a St James Southern constituency conference at Springfield Primary and Junior High School in the parish.
The leadership challenge will most likely take place at the party's annual conference in November.