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

Published:Sunday | October 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

Julian Robinson, the long-serving 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.


Political experience


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.


Left on their own


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 vice-president 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.