A New Opposition Leader in Jamaica?


Above: Audley Shaw

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Could the Jamaica Labour Party get a new leader?

Opposition Member of Parliament and former Jamaican Finance Minister Audley Shaw seems to have thrown thrown his hat in the ring to challenge current Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Andrew Holness as leader of the Jamaica Labour Party.

The move comes after reports of internal disagreements within the party about its leadership direction going forward.

“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 wrote in a statement to JLP Chairman Senator Robert Montague on Friday. “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.”

Shaw, who is the Opposition Spokesman on Finance and Planning, said he had “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.”

“It would be remiss of me to deny the disappointment and unfulfilled expectations our limited electoral success over the last 25years has had on our supporters,” he said. “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.”

Shaw, who has served in the JLP for 26 years, including 20 in Parliament, said he intended 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.”

Shaw said he had met with Holness earlier this week and “verbally informed him” of his intentions.

Speaking to the media this week before Shaw’s letter was released, Holness said he would “welcome” any challenge to his leadership, should there be one.

“I believe that, at the end of the day, it will make the party stronger, it will make whoever wins stronger, and that is what is important now,” Holness said. “In all of this, people are crying out — they want to see a direction, they want to see a settled political environment that will generate solutions for the country’s problems. So the quicker we get this over with, the better it is for the party,the better it is for the country.”