Morland Wilson, the JLP’s giant-killer out west
Before last Thursday’s general election, business development specialist, 39-years-old Morland Wilson, was virtually unknown in political circles outside of Westmoreland, and any thought that he was capable of beating an established political giant like Dr Wykeham McNeill was probably viewed as no more than idle chatter.
In addition to winning the previous two elections by substantial margins, McNeill was widely considered a political heavyweight for the People’s National Party (PNP), for which he is a sitting vice-president and which he has served in the high-profile position as minister of tourism.
So for many, possibly including the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which gave him the nod to contest the seat after surviving a run-off, Wilson was probably seen as no more than cannon fodder for his well-established opponent.
However, for international communications specialist and human rights attorney Donavan Reynolds, who guided Wilson through the party’s constituency run-off process, he always felt that based on his passion and commitment, Wilson had the potential to upstage McNeill.
“Morland is blessed with great self-belief and an amazing work ethic,” said Reynolds. “He was prepared to put in the work even when nobody believed it could be done. Seeing him getting it done is just amazing. He really deserves this win, he worked hard for it.”
The JLP has won two of the three Westmoreland seats, which the PNP has had a vice-grip control on since 1980, was a major surprise. Wilson’s win over McNeill, by a comfortable 6,119 to 5,069 margin is considered nothing short of phenomenal.
According to reliable sources, Wilson has been working the constituency since 2017, targeting especially the young people, many of whom were unemployed and crying out for opportunities to improve their lives.
PLANS FOR DEVELOPMENT
“He identified issues such as the underdevelopment of infrastructure, the lack of opportunity and unemployment, and the lack of skills training facilities,” said Reynolds. “He worked assiduously to get across the message that his overall vision was to implement a development plan that will create economic prosperity, community safety and social opportunities.”
In addition to just talking, Wilson, who was serving as the CEO of Prestige Logistics Limited, a company that imports cars and provides logistic training and business consultancy at the time, was bold enough to implement two skills training programmes, in collaboration with the Caribbean Maritime University, training some 240 young people, most of whom subsequently secured employment.
According to Reynolds, Wilson once served as country manager for the British Council, where he introduced many inspirational programmes and policies around safeguarding adults’ and children’s human rights.
Wilson, a past student of the Westmoreland-based Manning’s School, got his political grooming as a member of the G2K, the youth arm of the JLP, where he once served as deputy general secretary.
Having taken down McNeill and based on his passion for politics and his commitment to serve, many persons are now eyeing him as a person with a bright political future.