Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Politics not cerebral enough

Published:Wednesday | February 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton
Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer Paul Buchanan

Paul Buchanan, the member of parliament (MP) for West Rural St Andrew, said his greatest disappointment being a parliamentarian thus far is that it is not as cerebral as he would have thought.

"We are still where we were 50 years ago," Buchanan said at an Editors' Forum held at the Gleaner's North Street offices last Thursday.

His comments were made in response to claims that he is feeling the heat from constituents, many of whom have protested his stewardship by way of blocking roads.

Addressing this reality, Buchanan said that "no matter how much we do, there will always be the old politics - those who get up at 5:30 in the morning and put a tree branch across the road - and we don't realise that we have to produce so that we can fix our roads, pay our teachers, and do those things that prevent the blocking of roads".

must be willing to lose

The first-time MP, who sprang a surprise in the 2011 General Election by beating then junior minister Andrew Gallimore, said he thought that more than 50 years after Independence that the approach to politics would have changed.

"The language is still road and light and water despite the new language of fiscal space and primary surplus. Politics wants to triumph, but some of us who want to break the cycle of poverty, we see the disappointments," Buchanan said.

"We, as members of parliament, have to be willing to lose, understanding that we have to do the right thing now. I am certain that all of you would have seen that finance ministers were engaged in the same battle up to 60 years ago. We are here still ... . We are not producing enough. The temporary victories from a blocked road are neither here nor there," Buchanan added.

He said that part of transforming his constituency rests with finding "the brightest and best" persons in his constituency to be computer programmers.

"As Jamaicans, we have these special things in our heads. These boys can break the code of the Pentagon if you allow them, and I am saying to minister (Phillip) Paulwell, let us assemble the brightest and the best, pay them well for five years. That will give us the wealth that will change the paradigm," Buchanan said.

He said that the approach to governance cannot be about the temporary victories of blocking the roads, adding that when he campaigned for the job, he had no illusions about the things that could be achieved, given the fiscal realities.

"I knew the limitations were coming, but at the same time, there is a culture, too. Take Stony Hill, for example. Those people say we pay our taxes and we are not getting our fair share of taxes. But I remember when I was campaigning, they never had a proper water supply. In the first year, they have the most reliable water supply, but they want more now," Buchanan said, adding that the people would demand more than had been promised.