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Thwaites exit timeline! - 71-year-old MP waiting on constituents to tell him when to leave

Published:Sunday | March 13, 2016 | 3:00 AMErica Virtue
Ronald Thwaites (centre) flanked by some of his supporters with his son Daniel in the background on nomination day last month.

Former Education Minister Ronald Thwaites is not yet ready to call time on his career in representational politics despite being sent to the Opposition benches in Parliament for one more term.

The veteran member of parliament was successful in his attempt to retain the Kingston Central constituency in the February 25 general election, but his People's National Party finished with 31 seats, one fewer than the Jamaica Labour Party, which now forms the Government.

As he returned to Gordon House last week, Thwaites told The Sunday Gleaner that he has not set a departure timetable as he trusts his constituents to make a choice when the time is right.

"I am 71 years old. I have to consider an exit strategy. If I say I have vim, vigour and vitality (phrase used by former JLP leader Edward Seaga amid calls for him to step away from the leadership of the party in the 1990s) then it's so," said Thwaites.

"But the constituency is not your personal property. We all must retire from it at some time," added Thwaites.

The PNP has been urged to make wholesale changes to its leadership since its surprise election defeat, with fingers pointed at the older members of the party.

But Thwaites showed that he remains physically fit as he made his customary walk down East Street towards the Parliament building on Duke Street in downtown Kingston for last Thursday's first sitting of the new House.

Thwaites walked past the offices of the Ministry of Education where a month ago he was the top dog, the chief driver of Government's education policy.

With National Heroes Park at his back and heading towards the sea, without security and despite his obvious ethnicity, Thwaites has never been afraid of making the walk.

 

SPECIAL MEMORIES

 

He told The Sunday Gleaner that although the PNP lost the general election, the 2016 campaign holds special memories for him as his six children made it a campaign to remember.

"All my children were with me for the 2016 election campaign. They played different roles and it was one of those special moments, and it is pleasing that they have not turned up their noses on politics or public service," said Thwaites.

His children are Daniel, his firstborn, a former Commonwealth Rhodes Scholar and current United States-based attorney; Mary and Benjamin, who are also attorneys; David-Isiah, a land evaluator; Timothy, a land surveyor; and Anna, who is a teacher.

Thwaites also expressed his gratitude to his wife of 50 years, Marcia, who he said has given unwavering support since 1993 when he won the Kingston Central constituency for the first time.

Daniel, who is a columnist with this newspaper, agreed that campaigning with his father was special this time around.

"We have been part of the campaign before, as it was in 2011. That time, it was those of us who were available. This time it was different. Because all of us were here together with more clearly defined roles."