By Alexis B. Montgemary
THE St. Lucia Labour Party’s debacle with Allen Chastanet rages on in their hope of satisfying a sworn promise that this individual will not be allowed to ever become the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia. Last year August Prime Minister Kenny Anthony dismissed this same individual as “nothing but a disaster”; however, the level of attention that his party has trained on Chastanet points to a heavy concentration of their energies and resources towards this burgeoning politician.
There is something else that each attack confirms and solidifies in the minds of the public day by day; and that is, the Saint Lucia Labour Party will stop at nothing to annihilate a targeted politician whom they believe is foe or threat to their end goals; even though this individual is within their own camp.
The SLP will go the lengths, from undertaking the inventive strategizing, to bearing the financial cost of ventilating the propaganda, to employing down–right bullying tactics all in an effort to painstakingly and ruthlessly tear this person’s image down limb by limb. Allen Chastanet has not been the first to have the SLP grab a fistful of his innards in an iron grip of attempted destruction and he will not be the last. The annals of SLP’s hall of destruction are replete with many well–known names that stood to suffer a similar fate. Some had the arsenal to stand their ground but others crumbled, closed shop and moved on leaving behind an elated SLP supporters.
Sir John Compton clashed with Chief Minister George Charles and moved on to form his own party. George Odlum who was obviously not trusted within the SLP ranks went on to form the Alliance with Morella Joseph and John Compton after tensions imploded (Odlum had been an elected member of the SLP). Former Prime Minister Mickey Pilgrim left the party but Peter Josie stayed behind, becoming the political leader of the SLP and chief cook and bottle washer after the UWP won the elections of 27th April, 1992..
Although he seemed to be the man who loyally held the line when SLP was disintegrating, Josie was not spared a major flogging from the party’s hierarchy when the time was right. The atmosphere of vehemence in the party against Josie skittered to a heated emotional climax that resulted in a dramatic public display. Memorably Josie stripped/ tore off on the political platform, his red T–shirt to reveal beneath it a yellow (UWP) T–shirt marking the “end of days” for his affiliation with the Labour Party.
The trend is clear. When the SLP deems individuals to be non–compliant or not completely resigned to all the nuances of collective responsibility, they will turn on those persons despite being within their camp in equal measure as they would a direct opponent. Mario Michel who had served as Minister of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports and in the position of Deputy Prime Minister had a taste of that wine from SLP’s bitter cup. After the executive of the Saint Lucia Labour Party voted to remove their term limit clause and effectively allow current leader, Dr. Kenny Anthony to take the party into the 2006 elections, Michel announced his intention not to partake in the general elections of that year. He returned to his private legal practice after the party broke their promise, almost literally on his head, denying him the opportunity (as some put it) “to be prime minister”. Despite acknowledging that he was getting many requests from people to return to politics, he seemed to have steered clear of openly engaging in partisan politics since then.
Perhaps it was MP Richard Frederick who captured the SLP‘s use of “at all cost and consequences” tactics best in the wake of Michel’s disappointing departure: “There cannot be talent surrounding the Labour Party. When the Leader of the Opposition entered the Labour Party there was a constitution that essentially said you cannot serve more than two terms. That constitution was amended and all the good fellas had to run like Mario Michel. So right now the Saint Lucia Labour Party has no choice than to settle for UWP rejects because the good people are gone. All the talent had to leave the Labour Party. Poor jab Mario. And let me put on record that Mario Michel would have made a good prime minister.”
But it was with Sarah Flood, SLP elected representative of Central Castries that the SLP’s outrageous “our way or the highway ideology” was most viciously and vividly exposed as this episode unfolded in the Parliament during a live television broadcast. Mrs. Flood made a fatal error that provoked the ire of her party members including a fuming Dr. Anthony by debating against her cabinet colleague’s attempts to pilot an amendment to the Abortion Act in 2003. In January 2004 she was relieved of her portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle. The SLP could not care less about the gender gap in Caribbean politics or the rich contribution Sarah had made in local elective politics as they sent her packing.
Today, having moved on to contribute differently within the perimeters of her convictions in human rights and human dignity Mrs. Flood Beaubrunstands as a major loss of talent for the island’s political evolution especially in the context of having strong female figures in the House of Parliament. Do we have the SLP to thank for her conspicuous absence? (To be continued).