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A New Opposition Leader in Jamaica?

Opposition Member of Parliament and former Jamaican Finance Minister Audley Shaw is positioning himself to challenge the current opposition leader and former Prime Minister Andrew Holness as leader of the Jamaica Labour Party.

According to the Caribbean Journal, the move comes after reports of internal disagreements within the party about its leadership direction going forward.

The following is an Aug. 23 letter from Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw to Jamaica Labour Party Chairman Robert Montague.

“Dear Chairman,

Over the last few months I have been approached by numerous Jamaicans from all walks of life expressing concern about the future of our country under the stewardship of the Peoples National Party government and the current state of the Jamaica Labour Party to offer a viable alternative government.

Truth be told, as an elected officer and long-serving member of this great Jamaica Labour Party, I too have concerns on how we have been proceeding in opposition since the last set of national elections, and fully recognize that we must take collective responsibility for perceived deficiencies.

Let me acknowledge for posterity our party’s rich tradition of transformative and courageous leaders who have served Jamaica well, providing sound economic management, most times under difficult circumstances, while vigorously protecting the rights of each and every Jamaican no matter their station in life.

It would be remiss of me to deny the disappointment and unfulfilled expectations our limited electoral success over the last 25 years has had on our supporters. It has hampered and frustrated the realization of our stated vision, but more so our capacity to make the qualitative difference that Jamaicans deserve and our delegates expect.

It is my view that we have an opportunity now, three years before national elections are constitutionally due, to engage in a period of re-evaluation and recalibration of the way forward, giving our party delegates the opportunity to lend their voices to how they would like to see their party proceed. Indeed, our party’s founders in their wisdom have articulated a critical role to this end, outlined in our party constitution.

I have served the party for the greater part of my adult life.  Of those 26 years I have served as member of parliament for 20 years, general secretary in 1998 and deputy leader since 1999, shadow minister 1989-2007 and 2012 to present, and minister of finance, the public service and planning 2007-2011.

I have served the party diligently and faithfully throughout these years and at all times, have put my party above myself. I intend to use my experience to offer guidance on how our party should proceed as I see this as a critical personal responsibility at this time.

Mr Chairman, 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.  It is my intention 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.

Please be assured that I intend to go about this process in a cordial and dignified manner, always giving due consideration, care and respect to our party’s leadership, structure and constitution, especially in light of past experiences and public perception.

On my return to the island this week, I respectfully met with our party leader, The Hon. Andrew Holness, and verbally informed him of my intentions.

In view of the public interest generated in this matter in my absence from the island and to avoid further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of my position, I will release this letter to the press.

May God continue to bless our party and Jamaica, “land we love.”

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