I’m Ashneil Jeffers, Leader of the Opposition of the Montserrat National Youth Parliament. This post is a joint statement from the current Youth Premier of the MNYP, Jhovan Daniel and the current Leader of the Opposition, Ashneil Jeffers, to clarify some areas relating to the Montserrat National Political Debate. After further discussions and realizing that what we intend is more of a Panel Discussion, we have changed the name to reflect this. We the youth, comprising members of the Youth Parliament and Friends, are hosting a series of Panel Discussions in which political candidates in this year’s general elections are invited to participate. The planning process has not been all smooth sailing. There have been a few hiccups, but we are still in the process of fine-tuning our plans. The following are our intentions and plans as they stand to date:
• This event is the brainchild of a few members of the Youth Parliament. Discussions began around October 1. It is not motivated by anything said by any political candidate; has no political ties and is completely unbiased. Contact was made with the Clerk of Council for the first time on October 17, to explore the possible use of Montserrat Legislative Assembly equipment, and they have kindly agreed to assist with some aspects which would ordinarily require funding. We are not influenced by nor is Ms. Shirley Osborne involved in any way. To date, no member of Youth Parliament has had any discussion regarding the panel discussion with Ms Shirley Osborne.
• These discussions are not intended to pit candidates against each other or have them ‘argue it out’. It is not a “Me vs Them debate”. Candidates will not be given an opportunity to argue or provide criticism that is not constructive. That would be of no benefit to anyone.
• The intention is to use questions from both Citizens of Montserrat and Montserratians abroad as a basis for a Panel Discussion. Some opportunity is given for rebuttal. The series of Panel Discussions are intended to provide a platform for professional deliberations on the plans our future leaders have for our country. This places the general electorate and us the youth in a better position to select the best people to run our country for the next 5 years. The following link is the rules for the Panel Discussions http://bit.ly/2W0P0VH.
• A tentative schedule of candidates for each evening’s Panel Discussions has been drawn up. We are still in the process of contacting individuals on this list.
• An initial start date of Tuesday, 22nd October was planned for the discussions. This had to be changed to next Tuesday, 29th October. The official schedule will be released later this week.
• Questions asked will be directed towards individual candidates and may not be the same. There will be no debate against candidates in another party. Arguing is not acceptable – amicable discussions are preferred.
• Parties and their leaders will not be given special privileges. We believe that this would be grossly unfair to independent candidates. All candidates will have an equal opportunity to participate irrespective of affiliation to a party. We reiterate: this series of panel discussions are for the benefit of the People of Montserrat. They are not intended for parties or candidates to pit themselves against each other.
• On the final night, we would like to see Leaders of parties, along with experienced politicians on the panel. This allows the candidates to make their final and most compelling case to the country before general elections. We believe that productive debates among the candidates will showcase their ability to negotiate on Montserrat’s behalf on the regional and international stage.
• No specific topics have been planned for each night. Questions asked are not meant to purposely throw candidates off-balance. We understand that there will be specialists and there may be questions directed towards a candidate in their area of specialty. However, we expect candidates to know and understand their plans for our country. We expect party candidates to know their party’s plans for our country.
Please help us by tagging as many candidates in this year’s election as you can. We will continue making calls and delivering letters to candidates throughout the week. Should any candidate wish to indicate their interest online, please email either Jhovan Daniel or Ashneil Jeffers at MNIDebate2019@gmail.com.
This is an initiative for us the Citizens of Montserrat and Montserratians abroad. Please help us encourage as many candidates as possible to attend this series of Panel Discussions. It is our right and in our best interest to know what their plans are BEFORE they are elected.
Let’s all hear the plans our future Leaders have for our country. We will ask questions and listen to what is said. Send your questions to MNIDebate2019@gmail.com. You can remain anonymous or have your name mentioned if you wish!