Miss­ing men­tors

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

Robin­son cites lack of men­tor­ship and mis­steps as rea­sons PNP 2011 first-time MPs lost in 2016

JU­LIAN ROBIN­SON, the longserv­ing deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) who was last week named gen­eral sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate, has blamed many one-term mem­bers of par­lia­ment (MPs) for their de­feats in 2016.

Ac­cord­ing to Robin­son, some of th­ese Com­rades who ran suc­cess­fully on the party’s ticket in 2011, but lost in 2016, were ar­chi­tects of their own fail­ure.

In an exclusive in­ter­view with The Sun­day Gleaner, Robin­son said while the PNP must share some of the blame for not pro­vid­ing the men­tor­ship and lead­er­ship re­quired, the at­ti­tude of many of the new­com­ers was a turn-off to elec­tors.

“There were some whose ap­proach was not right. You have to ac­cept that. But equally, we have to ac­cept that cen­trally there should have been more sup­port, more guid­ance,” said Robin­son.

“And, quite frankly, ef­forts were made to pro­vide the guid­ance and the men­tor­ship for some, but they said they didn’t want it. But as a po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion, you have to in­sist,” added Robin­son.

He charged that many who won their seats in 2011 were re­spon­si­ble for the de­struc­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tions in their con­stituen­cies, and, in other in­stances, lacked the ‘po­lit­i­cal smarts’, and this led to their down­fall.

Robin­son ar­gued that a fully pre­pared MP must be on top of the con­stituency enu­mer­a­tion process, in­clud­ing hav­ing knowl­edge of all those who are on the vot­ers’ list.

He added that enu­mer­a­tion re­quires or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal move­ment, and the mem­ber of par­lia­ment should know of ev­ery new voter.


Robin­son, the two-term MP for St An­drew South East, has cred­ited much of his po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and con­stituency work to for­mer mem­ber of par­lia­ment for the con­stituency, Max­ine Henry-Wil­son.

He also noted that he chairs his con­stituency enu­mer­a­tion com­mit­tee and knows how many per­sons are added to the vot­ers’ list, as his team goes through the list with a fine-tooth comb.

“The real­ity is that in a num­ber of in­stances, that was not done. It wasn’t done be­cause the po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion broke down in a num­ber of the seats. Most of the first-time MPs went into seats that were more mar­ginal than those held by the more ex­pe­ri­enced MPs.

“I am not cast­ing the blame on them to­tally. You are in an or­gan­i­sa­tion and when they fail, you fail and the party loses power. Who suf­fers? The or­gan­i­sa­tion suf­fers,” ar­gued Robin­son.


He said new­com­ers at that level can­not be left to do their own thing, re­sult­ing in what led to the 2016 gen­eral elec­tion loss.

“Much of this came down to the is­sue of the ab­sence of men­tor­ship. Many of them may not have had the ground­ing po­lit­i­cally, so they did work on the rep­re­sen­ta­tion part, but the enu­mer­a­tion process broke down,” said the gen­eral sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate, who will as­sume his new role in the po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion on Novem­ber 27.

Robin­son said, go­ing for­ward, a team of re­tired MPs is to be es­tab­lished to pro­vide men­tor­ship to young and first-time MPs and can­di­dates, to avoid a re­peat of the 2016 elec­tion pit­falls. This men­tor­ship, he said, will be at dif­fer­ent lev­els, and where needed.

He noted that some long-serv­ing MPs, some at the min­is­te­rial level, were al­ready pro­vid­ing the sup­port that is needed, while mak­ing it clear that they were no longer in­ter­ested in representational pol­i­tics.

Among the stal­warts he ex­pects to en­gage will be cur­rent PNP vi­cepres­i­dent Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son, who said he wants to pro­vide men­tor­ship dur­ing his re­main­ing years in pol­i­tics.

Robin­son noted that the Peart broth­ers (Dean and Michael) and John Junor are al­ready men­tor­ing the new­com­ers.



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