UNDERSTANDABLY, the mood in the United Workers Party this week would have been euphoric following news that CSA President Mary Isaac had, in effect come to the party and been appointed a Senator as well. However, this may not be the long and short of it all, as we suspect she might also have been identified to carry the Flambeau flag in the next general elections.
Since Tuesday, we have been waiting to hear a diplomatic, if not political explanation for this latest development but none has been offered. Ms. Isaac’s own take on her sudden rise to parliamentary prominence left a lot of important questions unanswered: questions about integrity, honesty and trust, for example, which to us, seem more relevant at this time than some of the arguments that have been advanced as explanation.
It is insulting our collective intelligence to suggest that there is precedent for trade union leaders in the region being called up to take up seats in parliament to crusade on behalf of workers. It should have been pointed out that these appointees were not, at the time of their call, engaged in crucial negotiations with their government and/or that the relationship between their union and the government had generated some considerable acrimony as has been the case here in St Lucia.
Neither was the point made, either by Ms. Isaac or the UWP that these trade unionists, in the other countries she mentioned, had not repeatedly denied, when challenged, an association with their new-found political fraternity as she had done, only to turn around and prove their challengers right in the end.
So we come to the questions of integrity, honesty and trust. Did Ms. Isaac seek to determine whether members of the CSA favoured their president being a frontline member of a political party? If she has not, must her move then not be seen as a betrayal of their trust? Recalling her militant stand against the government earlier this year, will anyone conclude that given this sudden turn of events, she had been negotiating with the government in good faith all along and giving CSA members fair and honest representation untainted by any political considerations?
The UWP too needs to do some self-examination because its supporters are bound to ask whether, as had become “culture” in the other party, it was now going to trade “principle” and “integrity” for “expediency”, “convenience” and “winning at all cost”. Further, even though we agree with the notion that has been advanced that the trade union movement needs to have its concerns aired and represented in parliament, we do not see how Ms. Isaac’s appointment to the upper house, can be effective in meeting that agenda given the present configuration of that chamber.
But we understand why the UWP will be quick to see this latest acquisition as a feather in their cap. Anyone who has followed Ms Isaac’s rise in recent years would conclude that she has the potential to be quite a handful. If she can honestly articulate issues affecting workers, women and others—as she claims she proposes to do—and achieve success in doing so, history may well absolve her of any suggestion that her actions this week were a betrayal of the trust of those who depended on her for honest representation and now feel that they may have been used or duped.