Saturday 28 March, 2020

Last JLP conference before next elections? Holness could send a signal

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Buoyed by its successes over the past three years and nine months, this Sunday’s 76th annual conference of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is expected to be a show of force and a picture of confidence going into what is largely expected to be a general election year in 2020.

As such, JLP General Secretary, Dr Horace Chang, is expecting no fewer than 30,000 Labourites to descend on the National Arena in St Andrew to hear Prime Minister and party Leader, Andrew Holness, deliver what will be his most widely anticipated conference speech since the JLP retook the reins of Government in 2016. This is most likely the last annual conference before the general elections, analysts have said.

Analysts and political commentators have also opined that the JLP will be in the driver’s seat whenever the elections are called, as the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has struggled to get a coherent message going.

Conference activities are scheduled to get under way at 10am, and Holness is expected to deliver the main address at around 1pm.

Chang as General Secretary, Robert Montague as Chairman, and other party stalwarts are expected to address the conference, so too, specially invited guest, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada.

Chang has cited that with the party in its fourth year in Government, elections could be imminent, and as such the party is fine-tuning its machinery for the polls, whenever the time kis deemed to be right. He said Sunday’s conference will be a major one, and the party is expecting a huge turnout of supporters.

Despite some stubborn challenges remaining, in particular on the crime front, Holness is expected to boasts about the party’s achievements since retaking the reins of Government from the PNP in February 2016.

Although real growth contracted in the last two quarters, the macroeconomic indicators remain strong and unemployment is at an all-time low. Major infrastructure works are winding down and yet more jobs are being created, particularly in tourism and the BPO sector. But, the crime situation, particularly murders, remain a challenge for the Government, despite ongoing states of emergency in several parishes.

Nonetheless, the JLP will feel that it has the wind in its sail, and as such, Holness’ speech will be closely watched for any indication as to when the next general elections, constitutionally due by the first quarter of 2021, will be held.

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