(CMR) Alden McLaughlin's constituency office now employs former politician and talk show host Austin Harris as the constituency office assistant administrator. This is the first time McLaughlin has had his own constituency office in Red Bay and hired anyone.
Ironically, one of the criticisms levied against MP McLaughlin is that he neglected his constituency and was unavailable to people at the district level. It now appears that he may be attempting a new strategic tactic.
The move has pissed off some people in the community who responded with distain:
In Harris's last political term, the duo was closely aligned as Harris worked under the former Premier as his Councillor for Human Resources, Immigration, and Community Affairs. Harris and McLaughlin also hosted joint meetings during the 2021 general election that saw Harris unseated by political newbie Sabrina Turner.
He has an extensive background as a talk show host with over eight years experience hosting at Cayman Crosstalk on Rooster 101.9 FM and Straight Talk at Star 92.7 FM. He left Star in March 2017 to run for political office in the district of Prospect. However, his successful political bid was short-lived as two other candidates moved ahead of him in the Prospect polls.
Unfortunately, returning to talk radio presently is rife with obstacles as those daily talk shows no longer exist. Additionally, Star 92.7 FM is partly owned by Johann Moxam, who openly campaigned about Harris's ineptness in the Progressive-led Unity Government.
Until this week, Harris was mum about any new employment opportunities, and this latest move came as a surprise to many.
As part of his duties, he will be hosting a Progressives-sponsored weekly online talk show called Let's Talk. It debuted on May 10 with guest MP Joseph Hew who attempted to tackle the issues of the environment and the George Town landfill.
Many speculate that the battle lines are already being drawn for the 2025 general election showdown. Undoubtedly, social media and talk shows will continue to play a pivotal role in the success of political parties and independent candidates. The Progressive struggled in the 2021 election with the level of exposure for meetings and their online marketing strategy. Marketing analysts said they failed miserably to gain traction through live stream meetings and only attempted to rectify the failures in the weeks before the election.
The last-minute attempt to revive their social media campaign flopped and saw them lose control of the government.
The constituency assistant role reports to the Member of Parliament that hires them but is paid via the Parliamentary budget. Their primary duties include running the constituency office and working in the community.
In an ironic twist, Premier Wayne Panton maintained a strong presence in the Savannah/Newlands constituencies, where he maintained his constituency office with full-time staff for the four years that he was out of office.