CHRISTIANA, Manchester — Reflecting on his three-decade tenure as Member of Parliament for Manchester North Eastern, Audley Shaw ended his 20-minute speech here on Sunday night urging Labourites to pray for him and his three councillors.
"I have enjoyed the journey and I have done my best to assist as many people as possible, and the job continues, so I appreciate your prayers. Pray for 'Man a Yaad'. Pray for the councillors," he told supporters at his constituency conference at Christiana High School.
Shaw, who had dubbed himself 'Man a Yaad' early in his political career, has won the constituency at every general election since 1993.
In recent months speculation has been growing about whether the now 71-year-old veteran will contest the next parliamentary election. On Sunday Shaw stayed clear of commenting on when he will walk away from representational politics.
"It could have been more than 30 years, but I have a story to tell you. I lost the first election in 1989. The man who beat me, Calvin Lyn, is an undertaker… he beat me by 189 votes," Shaw said.
Lyn, a former member of the People's National Party (PNP), served one term as MP in the constituency and three terms as councillor for the Christiana Division.
Shaw said that after winning all three divisions in the constituency in 1990 he prepared the JLP to firmly control the seat.
"When I took away all three seats in the parish council election, I went and I had a little word with Calvin and I said, 'Since this a gwaan now, nuh bother run again, mek me and you mek an agreement. You take care of the dead and I take care of the living'," Shaw said, evoking laughter from his audience.
Manchester North Eastern, which consists of three divisions, namely Christiana, Walderston, and Craighead, is again being eyed by the PNP with its representative Valenton Wint returning.
Wint has thrice contested parliamentary elections on behalf of the PNP. He has lost each time. He was defeated by Shaw in Manchester North Eastern in 2011 and 2016 and by Zavia Mayne (JLP) in St Ann South Western in 2020.
Councillor Omar Miller (JLP, Craighead Division), who is also minority leader in the PNP-controlled Manchester Municipal Corporation, is aiming to become mayor.
"I am leading from the front, because North East Manchester will never go to the PNP," Miller said, while assuring Shaw that the three councillors are working to hold onto their divisions.
"You one have a little man a run round this constituency for 10 years now, Mr Wint, but I call him Mr Wind, because so him lose, the breeze gone with him," Miller said.
Earlier, Member of Parliament for Portland Western Daryl Vaz levelled criticism at individuals he labelled "political opportunists".
"Anybody you see get [beaten] and take bush and change parish or change party, you must know what they are. They are political opportunists. Some of them are moving from one parish to the next. The only way dem find that parish is if dem use dem phone and go on GPS," Vaz said.