Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
JULIAN ROBINSON, one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise dismally performing group of parliamentarians on the government benches, last week, brought a refreshing change to the drab political scene and subjected himself to unbridled public scrutiny, a phenomenon that is anathema to most politicians, who prefer to grade or rate their performances, in fear of allowing others to do so.
Robinson circulated to constituents a report on his first year as member of parliament (MP) for South East St Andrew.
In a year when the actions of parliamentarians were largely restricted to a series of malevolent clashes that were hardly becoming of the members of the legislatures that were exacerbated by the below-par performances of frontbenchers (senior ministers), Robinson was among a handful of first-time parliamentarians who broke free and made their marks on the political landscape.
Remarkably, two young politicians, regarded as royalties in the People's National Party (PNP) 'kingdom', being third-generation politicians, shrugged off the shackles of tradition and loyalty. The pair - Julian Robinson and Mikael Phillips - in 2012, courageously rose above the fray even as some other lesser youthful mortals were kept firmly in check by the super sensitive seniors in Government.
Robinson is the grandson of Rudolph Robinson, member of the house of representatives - as the parliamentary chamber was called in the pre-Independence period - for Western Westmoreland.
The young politician is also the nephew of former MP for South Central St Catherine, Heather Robinson, whose unwavering integrity surfaced when she waged a fierce battle against an unrelenting brand of criminality, led by the PNP thug, Donovan 'Bulbie' Bennett, whose notoriety was noised far and wide, before he was killed by members of the security forces.
However, loyal as Heather Robinson was to her beloved PNP, her principles propelled her rudely out of the political arena on to the sidelines. Heather Robinson, in 1996, quit representational politics, an unprecedented move in a system that embraces political hoodlums.
Julian Robinson, youthful articulate and approachable and most importantly, accessible, appears to have brought a measure of urbaneness and civility to the potentially volatile constituency.
In his first report on the anniversary of his December 29 victory at the polls, Robinson publicly - not just to constituents - listed his achievements, among them:
Robinson possesses the reputation in the wider public domain of being one of the rare breeds of politicians who inspire some measure of hope in the future by his quiet candour and willingness to be examined without rancour.
Indeed, Robinson as a deputy general secretary of the PNP, shoulders, it seems, the brunt of the weight of the organisation's secretariat, despite the collective responsibility he bears as a minister of government.
Mikael Phillips, son of Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, and another third-generation politician, has demonstrated that he is able to transcend above political partisanship in the interest of the nation.
He has taken on the failings of the National Water Commission, the Urban Development Corporation, and the Students' Loan Bureau; and in doing so, he has demonstrated a fearless demand for answers at meetings of the Public Administration and Accounts Committee in the Lower House.
In properly keeping his distance away from the unseemly conflicts that rage in the nation's Parliament, young Phillips has solidified his constituency, while making his mark in the Parliamentary Committee on which he sits; and is seen in the public domain as a positive influence of first-time entrants to Parliament.
The real fear in acknowledging the worth of young politicians, such as Robinson and Phillips, is that instead of being emulated, they can become the subject of envious, vitriolic, cult-driven members of their party.
Recently, Government Senator Wensworth Skeffery dared to speak out on a matter as a keynote speaker at a function and was firmly put in his place by the leadership of the party.
Another bright spark, Dayton Campbell, the proactive and outspoken MP for North Western St Ann, appears to have been forced under the radar.
The backlash against the usually outspoken first-time MP for East Rural St Andrew, Damion Crawford by his parliamentary colleagues on the educational-related grants to his constituency appears to have rendered him into silence.
Why have promising first-time MPs, such as André Hylton of Eastern St Andrew and Paul Buchanan, the MP for West Rural St Andrew, maintained a stubborn reticence?
One of parliament's young mouthpieces, Raymond Pryce of North East St Elizabeth would do well to redirect his brash approach to political rivals into something more meaningful.
Gary Spaulding is a public-affairs reporter and winner of the 2012 Morris Cargill Award for opinion journalism. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com