JLP Election Aftermath | Democracy ‘dissed’, Hope dashed?

The Gleaner Cartoon - 20131113a

“To the victor belongs the spoils” William L. Marcy

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader, Andrew Holness, defeated his challenger, Audley Shaw, in last Sunday’s internal party elections.

The decisive margin of victory [692] was significantly higher than that secured by Portia Simpson Miller [237] when she won her first mandate as President of the People’s National Party (PNP) in 2006. With an even wider margin, Simpson Miller would brush aside another challenge in 2008. However, in the interim, it was always clear that there was guarded unease in the ranks and it took the second election to finally settle the issue. For sure, one would imagine that Peter Phillips, despite his age, still harbours hope of leading the party. But that is for another discussion. For now, the PNP seems to have settled the leadership issue and is concentrating on retaining power – the ultimate objective of all political parties.

Those are the facts as recorded in the annals of our political history.

But this is not about those irrefutable facts; but rather about the actions of the losers in the aftermath of Sunday’s election. The accompanying cartoons appeared in today’s Editions of the two daily newspapers and reflect the essence of the ensuing impasse. They hardly require narrative, but The Gleaner (above) depicts the fractious state of the party in the aftermath of the election; and The Observer (below) depicts the (still) unresolved issue of the complement of the “Shadow Cabinet”.

Ja Observer Cartoon -13-nov_w452

The former speaks for itself; but the latter reflects the following:

  • Audley Shaw, who was named as spokesman for Finance and Planning, has declined to take up the position (for now), based on his objection to the Leader asking for the resignation of the entire slate of JLP Senators, as well as the unresolved issue of the confirmation of the nomination of Christopher Tufton as a Deputy Leader in upcoming elections
  • Edmund Bartlett, who was named as spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, has declined to take up the position (for now), based on unstated unresolved issues and his expressed preference for the Tourism portfolio, and
  • Up to the time of writing, the refusal by Christopher Tufton to resign from the Senate, in accordance with the wishes of the leader – although the Constitution does NOT require him to do so.

In essence, the impasse is tantamount to the losers placing ultimatums on the duly elected leader regarding his right to name a new (or slightly changed) slate of persons whom he believes are in sync with his vision and the direction in which he would like to take the party.

This, to me, is untenable and the losers have obviously lost touch with the concept that “To the victor belongs the spoils”. In addition, it is not inconceivable that, had Audley Shaw won, he would have expected similar courtesies – a clean slate to be able to exercise the mandate given to him by the delegates.

Beyond that, Pearnel Charles, a senior member of the party, expressed it adequately on RJR’s Beyond the Headlines last evening when he said: ‘They could never have tried that with Edward Seaga or [Alexander] Bustamante’ {paraphrased}.

It is obvious, to me, that the losers have yet to come to grips with the facts that (1) they lost; (2) the election is over and (3) there is an undisputed leader.

And let us not mince words – those who supported Shaw would have expected to be rewarded for their support. The fact is, they should have also expected repercussions if Holness won! After all, there are consequences to our actions.

I also do not subscribe to the notion that cleaning house (even of all the Shaw supporters) is a sign that the new leader is not interested in unifying the party in the aftermath of the bitter election. There is not even credible evidence of this – after all, he did name Shaw and Bartlett to the shadow cabinet. The democratic principle is that he should have a free hand to structure his team as he sees fit – that is his right!

In my previous blog on the issue I had urged the party to begin a new era on the Monday following the election (whomever won). It is sad that today – Wednesday – we are recognizing that it is more of the same from a party that seems doomed to relegate itself to the ranks of the opposition for the foreseeable future. Fighting itself, while the country goes begging for a strong Parliamentary Opposition.

From where I sit, all the peculiarities aside, there are some fundamental things to accept, such as:

  • Andrew Holness relenting and capitulating to the demands of the losers will, himself, lose credibility as a strong leader
  • Audley Shaw (or any one for that matter) is not indispensable to the JLP
  •  It cannot be that those who are asked to serve expect to dictate to the leader what they want, and
  • Indeed, even as the leader makes himself accessible, the onus is on the losers to avail themselves to serve

These are not even political issues, but rather matters of principle and reflective of the democratic tradition.

For Jamaica’s sake, I hope they get it right and soon!

Walk good, ’til next time …


About Counselor77

A pretty good listener; occasionally I actually have something worthwhile to say ... it may be on religion, politics, love, public affairs (you name it) ... let's talk - we CAN make a difference.
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2 Responses to JLP Election Aftermath | Democracy ‘dissed’, Hope dashed?

  1. Hi Audley,

    Reading your post one realises how similar all our concerns remain even though we may be living on opposite sides of the globe. Your closing sentence , and I quote it here, says it all.

    “For Jamaica’s sake, I hope they get it right and soon!”

    I am from India , the largest, raucous and most fractious democracy on this planet. And as India goes into election next month, that above sentence of yours ( by only substituting the country name) rings true there too.


    • counselor77 says:

      Quite so Shakti! But, with all it’s flaws, I (still) believe that the democratic ideology is still the best of all the political options. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views.

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