by Cato Rand
Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness staved off the challenge of former Finance Minister Audley Shaw in the November 10 race for leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). It is left to be seen, if going forward, whether or not Holness will appropriately address the criticisms hurled at him that informed Shawʼs challenge. I would have hoped that Holness would have welcomed with open arms, the democratic process within his party.
The margin of victory suggests that Shaw was hearing loud voices rather than many voices; and was thus mistaken in his assessment that there was a groundswell of support for him being JLP leader. I already gave my thoughts in the lead up to the election.
The title of this post is taken from an interview I heard on Nationwide radio in which Holness prophetically declared that he had done the numbers and was certain of a comfortable victory. (He obviously had not done the numbers prior to the last general election in Dec 2011.)
But I think Holness should be concerned, very concerned, about the numbers in upcoming elections. He has moved to address the internal divisions in the party that were getting wider as the JLP election date approached. The seeming fratricide between the Holness supporters and those aligned to Shaw, that appeared to be escalating with each passing day was most unfortunate (at least one other commentator agreed with me), and must have provided great comfort for the Peoples National Party and their strategists as they look forward to the next general election.
I did see on local television images from a meeting held in St Elizabeth with Holness shaking the hand of Shaw-supporter Dr. Christopher Tufton, aimed ostensibly at projecting an image of unity. But it would seem that Holness only embraces rivals after they have been effectively emasculated. Tufton has now been removed from the Senate and is neither a member of the Shadow Cabinet nor a Deputy Leader of the JLP.
Holness is clearly purging from the front ranks of the party any person who can be seen as an intellectual rival. His actions reminds me of Edward Seaga’s actions against individuals such as Ian Ramsay and Frank Phipps.
I guess one could surmise that Seaga is to Holness, as Athena was to Odysseusʼ son Telemachus.
I have seen commentators in local media emphasizing the point that Tufton should realize that actions have consequences and in throwing his support behind Shaw, he should not expect to remain front and center in a Holness- led JLP. But the concept that actions have consequences must also apply to Holness.
In naming his new Shadow Cabinet post election, he is clearly pushing aside members of the Shaw camp and I think this will hurt him in the future, especially come next general election.
The JLP is clearly not the natural political party for us Jamaicans and the party needs all hands on deck to even be competitive. I cannot see members of the Shaw camp enthusiastically campaigning for Holness. If Holness’ ambition is just to lead the JLP then he is making the right moves in ostracizing those who threw their support behind Shaw, but if he has thoughts of ascending to the position of Prime Minister of Jamaica following victory at the polls, I think he is making moves that will ultimately be suicidal.
I guess Holness has not bought into the quotation of Chinese general and military strategist Sun-Tzu that “You keep your friends close and enemies even closer”. .
Cato Rand is a Black Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He is a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.