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Portia’s picks - Analysts give mixed reaction to Opposition’s Council of Spokespersons

Published:Sunday | March 20, 2016 | 3:00 AMErica Virtue
Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller with two of her spokespersons, Dr Peter Phillips (left) and Phillip Paulwell.

Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller's 22-member Council of Spokespersons has received the nod of approval from some commentators despite widespread surprise at some of her choices.

Among the selections which have sparked debate is that of trade unionist Lambert Brown as the People's National Party (PNP) spokesman on the public service and public sector modernisation.

"At first I thought it was complete madness, but it makes perfect sense. He is a loyalist, but that aside, he is a trade unionist and he will have to interface with Ruddy Spencer," said political commentator and attorney-at-law Dr Paul Ashley.

Rudyard Spencer is the state minister in the finance ministry with responsibility for the public service.

Robinson right

for information

According to Ashley, the selection of Julian Robinson as the opposition spokesman on information and the knowledge economy was a good choice, as his temperament makes him suited for the position.

"And it's about time that this super ministry with him and (Phillip) Paulwell be broken into manageable portfolios," said Ashley.

Robinson was the state minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining in the previous administration.

Simpson Miller also received high marks from Ashley for the selection of Dr Dayton Campbell to shadow the agriculture portfolio.

"He is from a farming community in St Ann and his constituency is one of those swing seats, so he has to remain close to ground," he suggested.

Other selections also had the nod of approval from Ashley but Simpson Miller's decision to name Dr Morais Guy as the spokesman on foreign affairs is one he finds "mind-boggling".

"That one I don't understand."

For University of the West Indies lecturer in political psychology, Dr Christopher Charles, the inclusion of new faces in the Opposition's Council of Spokespersons augurs well for the PNP.

"I am hopeful that as young persons they will distinguish themselves while as spokespersons. It calls for them to do their homework, interact with individuals in their areas, and specifically with regard to climate change, to examine international best practice in the area and work closely with our own people," suggested Charles.

He said Simpson Miller's decision to name Brown on her team is understandable.

But he questioned the decision to have Campbell shadow the agriculture ministry.

"Nothing he has done so far, as far as I can see, prepares him to be a spokesman on agriculture. But his rural upbringing and with a rural constituency should give him an understanding of the portfolio as against someone from an urban area."

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com