Thu | Jan 27, 2022

Aging politicians accused of keeping young aspirants at bay

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Trying times are hitting hard at young political aspirants on both sides of the political divide who say they are struggling to surmount imposing barricades, with some questioning whether it's all worth the effort.

Tight financial constraints aside, some say they are finding it increasingly problematic to replace the ageing cadre of politicians who stand as fixtures in the political process.

Colin Virgo, former general secretary of Generation 2000 (G2K), hoping to represent the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in South Manchester, cited several obstacles.

"Financial and economic, perceptions, potential career path conflicts, internal resistance from senior party members ...," said Virgo.

Said Matthew Samuda, the newly installed president of G2K: "I certainly agree that it is indeed a particularly challenging endeavour for young people on many fronts."

Dr Dayton Campbell agrees.

"It is difficult to become a representative," he asserted.

"I would say to young people that they should get a career first, thus ensuring that they are independent of the politics and are, therefore, interested in the outcome and not the income."

Campbell said young aspirants also need to be creative and adapt to newer technologies, reducing the cost of campaigning or operating in politics.

"I do agree that young people must become more involved in the process," said Campbell. "This does not necessarily mean that they become a member of parliament or a councillor."

He suggested that they must organise themselves and allow their voices to be heard to protect the interests of young people within their party and, second, they should protect the interest of their party among the youth.

The sentiments were endorsed by former president of the People's National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) Junior Rose.

"I do agree that there is a real challenge for young aspirants in their quest to enter representational politics," he said.

Rose pointed to several reasons.

"One such is the clutch of the tentacles of those who have served over the years and have matured with the politics and have decided that retiring from the process incapacitates them or will make them dysfunctional, so they are afraid to retire," he said.

This, he said, reduces the availability of space for younger persons.

"Young people are creative and want to change the status quo. They want to look at more dynamic ways to grow the economy; they don't want to be benchwarmers."

- G.S.