By Alexis B. Montgomery
FORMER Prime Minister Dr. Vaughan Lewis who assumed the office of Prime Minister on April 2, 1996 after Sir John Compton resigned was left decimated politically after the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s demolition crew successfully labelled him with the moniker “tojourssou”. In 1997, Lewis valiantly tried to fight off the encircling and attacking SLP pack. In a remark captured in May, 1997 Lewis is quoted by an online source as referring to the SLP as a bunch of wild men in red shirts and accused them (the SLP) of displaying a lust for power.
That slight may have only served to deepen the ire of the SLP against their numerouno 1997 political foe Lewis. Soon the fourth Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and statesman was the laughing stock of the community, unable to shake off the well ingrained impression that he was nothing but an inebriated fool. Of course the embattled Lewis was unable to recover, leading the UWP to a crushing defeat at the polls. The SLP triumphed, copping a sweeping 16–1 mandate at the UWP’s expense.
Mind you, later Lewis decided to make good on his political amnesia and resigned from the United Workers Party to join the Saint Lucia Labour Party on 7, September, 2006 implying then that he was returning “home” to the traditionally preferred party of the Lewis clan.
The executive of the Labour Party back then has to be given credit for being brave enough to try to salvage and reinvent a man whose image they had unceremoniously torn to pieces. They attempted to put Lewis’ battered image through some emergency reconstruction surgery, re–baptized him in the red sea and declared him born again and washed clean of all the previous character smears levelled at him.
They then endorsed Dr. Vaughan Lewis as the SLP candidate for the Castries Central constituency in the December 2006 general election to wrest the seat from Richard Frederick. Again he failed in that election bid. The same SLP that had demonized Lewis went on record as suggesting that Lewis had been betrayed by the UWP and that they had had no choice but to receive their wandering prodigal son back into the fold. After the St. Lucia Labour Party administration returned to office in 2011, Lewis was appointed as a special advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After his controversial political tryst, this individual appears to have otherwise become an exceedingly quiet and reserved “diplomat” of late.
On the other hand one person that the SLP savagely attacked during the 2011 election campaign who is still standing, although without his U.S. visas in hand , and has surely not gone quiet is enduring Castries Central MP Richard Frederick. The SLP virtually transmuted Mr. Frederick into their personal dart board. In 2011 the SLP, whose nose had grown long enough to weasel its way into the UWP’s internal politics demanded that then Prime Minister Stephenson King fire Frederick whose passports had been revoked by the U.S. government.
A gravely concerned missive fired from the SLP camp claimed that: “This is an outrage. This is a VERY serious matter that calls for IMMEDIATE action by the Prime Minister. The fact that Stephenson King is supporting Frederick is telling. It speaks to the very character of who Stephenson King is. Stephenson King is weak. He’s too weak to stand up to Richard Frederick. He’s too weak to stand up to Guy Joseph. And, he’s too weak to stand up to Rufus Bousquet. These are serious and difficult economic times. Crime in Saint Lucia is at an ALL TIME HIGH. And, unemployment in Saint Lucia is also at an ALL TIME HIGH. Now is not the time for a weak politician like Stephenson King who can’t stand up to Guy Joseph when he makes sexist comments. And, now is not the time for a weak politician who can’t stand up to Richard Frederick even though a clear cloud of suspicion hangs over him. Kenny D. Anthony is a strong and effective leader. He is a Constitutional scholar. He is a respected leader in the region and across the globe. He is the kind of strong, effective and thoughtful leader that Saint Lucia needs right now to turn our country around.”
Dr. Anthony has “turned the country around” all right, but back to Richard Frederick who had stout heartedly faced off with the relentless SLP who had been engaging all their hacks and pundits in a relentlessly scathing onslaught. Frederick held on to the reins, just barely, and managed to win his seat again at the polls along with Stephen King and Guy Joseph. It was loosely speculated during informal talk that the loss of Frederick’s visas may have been largely engineered by his political opponents.
Nevertheless after the elections heat had quelled it seemed that Frederick still remained the target of his political adversaries. A 2013 statement by the MP, two years plus after elections, clearly conveyed to the none too battle-weary SLP battalion that the MP had endured just about enough of the political turbulence provoked by the SLP foot soldiers.
Frederick who had sued an SLP PRO in 2011 came out punching.
“It is noted with interest, how the members of the SLP continue their collaborative effort at attempting to drive me out of the political arena. They have tried incessantly, but all attempts have failed. They are now using a decision pronounced by one of the former ministers, who sat opposite me in Parliament in 2006, from a traffic related matter to further cast aspersions on my character, a matter which is on appeal. Since when, or is it only now that a traffic accident in whatever shape or form, relate to one’s character? If it does, questions need to be asked, questions need to be asked about the current Prime Minister who was involved in one of serious magnitude not too long ago. Ever since I single handedly defeated the Labour Party, I have been their soft target. I have been under severe political attack from them. I have been able to withstand it through the strength of God”, Frederick admitted.
The tensions between the SLP and Frederick seem to have cooled off somewhat and that’s perhaps owed to the common enemy dynamic with Allen Chastanet now squarely irritating the hell out of both the incumbent and Frederick.
And what if individuals are new to politics; do you think they will go unscathed by the Labour Party while they get their toes wet? Well ask Dominic Fedee the newest kid to pop up on the block as a UWP candidate interested in running the Anse la Raye/Canaries seat. In April, Dr. Anthony took a ferocious swipe at the young man, forcing many to come to his defence, calling the actions and words directed at Fedee appalling coming from a political veteran who had also entered the arena as a young, inexperienced player himself.
Dr. Anthony asked Fedee who is a newcomer by any definition to look in his cupboard for skeletons before entering the political arena. Could Fedee possibly be a potential threat to the old fox?
Perhaps the biggest threat to the SLP demolition crew is the electorate because they are so very enlightened now. The irrefutable evidence that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time, for they have seen the light is coming soon.